SCRA Benefits: How Active Duty Members Can Get Credit Card Annual Fee Waivers and Other Benefits

What is SCRA?

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is a U.S. federal law that provides protections for military members as they enter active duty. It covers issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, credit card interest rates, and much more. Read more about SCRA here.

Which credit card issuers offer SCRA benefits?

Barclays

Barclays used to be one of the most accommodating credit card issuers for active members of the military by waiving annual fees and interest.  In November 2016,  they cut back on benefits and now only offer the minimum under the SCRA.

Barclays will only offer the minimum benefits like capping interest charges at 6% and reduced monthly minimum payments.

If you're wondering why a lot of active military members use to have the Luxury card, it was because Barclays was waiving the high annual fees and not charging interest, while still issuing the signup bonus and gifts.

American Express

American Express will provide a fee waiver for ALL of their credit cards and charge cards, as long as you're active duty. 

According to Amex, the following are eligible for SCRA:

  • Any member of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) or a reserve component called to active duty (Reserve, National Guard, and Air National Guard).
  • National Guard personnel under a call or order to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days (for purposes of responding to a national emergency declared by the President and supported by federal funds).
  • Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officers.
  • U.S. citizens serving with the forces of a nation with which U.S. is allied in the prosecution of a war or military action.
  • Spouses of active duty Servicemembers listed above where credit is extended to a Servicemember and spouse jointly.

Amex will also refund any annual fees that were previously charged to you before active duty. 

How to claim benefits:

Phone
Call the number on the back of your Amex card and ask them to waive the annual fees under SCRA. 

  • If within the U.S. call  1-800-253-1720
  • If outside the U.S., call collect at 1-336-393-1111

Online  
Submit an online request to Amex. You may also submit any relevant documents through the Document Center: this includes paperwork establishing active duty, such as documentation prepared exclusively by a branch of the military, the Department of Defense or your commanding officer which indicates that you are on active duty (e.g., active duty orders, change of station orders, DD-214 forms, letters from commanding officers, etc.).

SCRA benefits can only be requested online if the card is enrolled.

Amex cards worth considering: Amex Platinum ($450 annual fee), Amex Platinum for Mercedes-Benz ($475 annual fee), and the Amex Delta Reserve ($450 annual fee).

Capital One

Capital One offers no annual fees and interest is capped at 4%. 

According to Capital One's website, SCRA benefits and protections available are:

  • Credit cards and lines of credit
  • Installment and auto loans
  • Mortgage and home equity loans
  • Other loans and lines of credit

Loans other than credit cards and lines of credit are eligible as long as they were opened before the start of the active duty period.

To request benefits, do one of the following:

  • Submit a form online here to request SCRA benefits.  
  • fax your SCRA Benefits Request Form to 1-866-516-4023
  • Visit a Capital One branch to submit a  request.
  • Mail your request to the address listed below. Please be sure to include military orders or a letter from your commanding office on military letterhead that shows your active duty period(s).

Capital One
Attn: SCRA Request
P.O. Box 30285
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0285

Chase

Chase Bank is hit-or-miss. Some members have reported success in getting fees waived, and others haven't. It seems like Chase favors those who have a previous banking relationship with them. 

To be safe, double check with Chase to see if the annual fees will be waived before applying.

If you can get fees waived, we recommend applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee). The signup bonus is 50,000 UR points and $300/year travel credit.

The Chase Ritz-Carlton card ($450 annual fee)  is also worth considering. The signup bonus is 2-3 free nights at a Ritz-Carlton hotel and access to the Visa Infinite Discount Air Portal.

Citi

Similar to Chase, most people have reported that Citi will waive annual fees if you had an existing banking relationship with them. If you can get the fee waived, we recommend applying for the Citi Prestige ($450 annual fee).

Conclusion

If you are a member of the military, there are tons of travel perks and credit card benefits that you can take advantage of. We recommend applying for the travel cards with high annual fees to get outsized value from the waived fees.