USAA Secured Platinum Card Review
The USAA Secured Card Platinum MasterCard is a good way for younger members of the US Armed Services to build their credit score. Retired members of the American military who never felt the need for a credit card and are therefore “credit ghosts” also will like this program.
A secured card uses a security deposit to assure the lending institution that a person with a bad credit history or no rating at all is trustworthy. By spending, these soldiers, sailors, and marines can build or rebuild their FICO score, increasing their rating in the eyes of all potential creditors. This is no prepaid or debit plan, but a real line of credit. You underwrite it yourself with a security deposit.
USAA Secured Platinum Credit Card: Build or Improve Credit
In this article, I’ll provide all the information you need to know about this plan. When you finish reading, you’ll have the details required to make an informed decision. Two versions of the USAA Platinum Card exist–one issued by MasterCard and one issued by American Express–so I’ll provide a comprehensive guide to each.
At the moment, let’s take a look at an overview of the USAA Platinum Secured Card. The following information applies for both versions of the plan. Below that, I’ll give a more detailed explanation.
- Variable APR on Purchases: 9.90%-19.90%. No penalty APR exists, while the annual fee is $35.
- Variable APR on Cash Avdances: 9.90%-19.90%
- Variable APR on Money Transfers: 9.90%-19.90%
- Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
- Cash Advance Transaction: 3%
- Over-the-Credit Limit: $0
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 1%
- Max Fee on Convenience Checks: $200 (waived when sent to USAA account electronically)
- Security Deposit: Between $250 and $5000
- Notable Feature: The security deposit is a 2-year Certificate of Deposit (CD) is an interest-earning deposit account.
Cardholders in New York State might have different rates on their United States Automobile Association cards. To know for certain, call 1-877-226-5697, which is toll-free assistance from the New York State Department of Financial Services. It’s a bureaucracy, so prepare for a bit of a wait.
Apply with MasterCard or Amex
The USAA Secured Card Platinum MasterCard is a real credit card, not some debit or prepaid card. Anytime you buy things with this charger card, you’ll build a personal history and improve your score (if you pay within 25 days). Avoid going over the limit. Make payments on time. When you do, USAA reports it to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
2-Year Certificate of Deposit
To open an account, you’ll need to open a USAA Bank 2-Year CD account. This is an interest-earning deposit with a $250-minimum initial deposit. The important thing to remember is this remains your money, so long as you fulfill your part of the bargain. The Certificate of Deposit or “CD” earns interest throughout the term of the card. When the two years is over, you’ll be able to withdraw the money at any time. At that point, your FICO score should be good enough you can get an unsecured card.
For those new to the concept of borrowing, this is a considered a “secured line of credit“. It’s secured, because you make a security deposit. If you don’t fulfill the agreed-upon bargain, USAA simply collects your deposit and it belongs to them. This assures the finance institution they get their money either way, so they’ll give anyone who makes a CD deposit this line of credit. It’s a starter card, essentially. Let me reiterate, though: this is not some prepaid or debit plan. Each month, all three credit bureaus are given a report, which helps you build or rebuild a spending history. That’s good for the shopper.
Variable Rate of Interest
The CD earns interest for you at a variable rate, which changes throughout the year. At present, the variable rate is currently sitting at 0.54% Annual Percentage Yield. It’s not a lot, but it is meant to provide a small amount of earning for you on the money which is sitting on your account. What that means on a $1,000 CD is you’ll earn less than $10 per year, but it’s better than nothing. Those who want to know the power of compound interest should click on the link I just gave to read my article on that subject.
Credit Limit Increases
The credit limit can be increased at any time on this card. All you have to do is increase the amount of money in the account. This has a 100% or $1-to-$1 matching rate. If you put $500 in the account, you’ll be able to borrow $500 from it, and so on. The advantage to consumers is you build up the amount of borrowing power you have in this way. I know it sounds like you’re tying up a lot of money. From the perspective of someone just starting out, you are. It’s worth the investment of capital in the long run.
Retail, Security, and Travel Benefits
Travel accident insurance is extended to you and your family whenever you purchase air tickets from the common carrier services. The plan’s collision damage waiver coverage pays for physical damage and theft to most rented vehicles.
The main retail benefit of this plan is to extend the warranty of U.S. manufacturers or store brands up to one year over the standard warranty plans. That is a huge benefit to buyers, because corporations have gotten really good at figuring out when their warranties should be ending. It’s a science, but the extended warranty lets you beat the science.
Security and Convenience: Chip Card Technology
The security plan on this program is nice. If you become the victim of identity theft when using this card, the “identity theft resolutions service” provides assistance.
To revisit the security part of the deal above, chip card technology offers added security to your purchases when you buy through a chip-enabled terminal anywhere in the world. This technology provides greater acceptance worldwide, which helps your purchasing power. Even better, the chipcard technology means you are not liable for unauthorized purchases. This is a huge advantage on those rare occasions when your plastic is lost or stolen.
Transaction History via Text
Get text messages about new purchases, or to see your transaction history. Simply make an inquiry online at usaa.com or with your mobile device and a text is set to your personal smartphone or tablet computer. The site is compatible with Android smartphones, iPhones, or iPads.
Special Benefits for U.S. Military Personnel
For members of the U.S. Armed Forces, special benefits are in-place. The “Military Campaign Benefit” means USAA is going to rebate all finance charges you accumulate while you served in a qualified military campaign. That means you’ll need to make certain the military campaign you’re called away to is considered official, but most American warzones are going to qualify.
The Deployment/PCS rate lets you get a 4% APR on all account balances for up to 12 months during your deployment or “permanent change of station”. As one veteran once said, those three little letters “cause big things to happen”. That same person joked it could be an acronym for “Panic-Cry-Scream” or might stand for “Plead-Choke-Sob”, but you get the point. A PCS might or might not be as traumatic as combat duty, but it can cause as much upheaval in your family’s life. The United States Automobile Association understands that and includes it in the deal. After the term is over with, the standard rate of 9.90% to 19.90% applies.
A similar benefit is offered to those who volunteer for military service. Anytime you enter active military service and have an existing balance, you’ll get the “Special 4% SCRA rate” for the length of your military service plus one year. That rate applies for the length of your time in the US military, no matter how long your career lasts. This applies to the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard.
The terms and conditions can change occasionally, so read this USAA Savings Bank Credit Card Agreement pdf to get the full details. If you read this and it seems to be dated (I’ll try to update), then find an equivalent PDF for the time period in which you’re living. At present, it is November 2015.
USAA Secured Platinum Amex
For those who would prefer an American Express-branded card, the USAA Secured Platinum American Express card is also available. This card offers the exact same terms and conditions as the program described above.
The advantage is you get the prestige of the Amex brand name, which is second-to-none. The disadvantage is fewer vendors worldwide accept American Express, because of its exclusivity.
Those interested in either card should know that either receives full mobile support. To learn how the USAA Secured Platinum Amex mobile app works, read the information at the end of the link I provided.
Upgrading to an Unsecured Card
This offer does not allow you to upgrade to an unsecured card. Once you get a better rating, simply fill out applications like you’ve no doubt been doing to this point. The results should be better next time around.
USAA Corporate Information
The United Services Automobile Association is a diversified financial services group of companies based out of San Antonio, Texas. USAA was founded in 1922, but the conglomerate is now a Fortune 500 company. The company offers banking, insurance, and investment support to people serve (or once served) in the United States military. As the commercials imply, these services are offered to the direct families of those soldiers and sailors. The USAA financial services is part of the reciprocal inter-insurance exchange and subsidiaries, and is regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance.
Over its 9 decades in existence, USAA has become one of the pioneers of direct marketing. Most of its business is conducted over the phone or the Internet by employees–not agents. As of 2015, USAA has total assets of $130.253 billion, a yearly revenue estimated at $24.033 billion, and a net income of $3.41 billion per year.
At present, United States Automobile Association’s chairman is retired USAF General Lester Lyles. The CEO of the company is retired USAF General Stuart Parker, who served 10 years as an Air Force pilot and served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
MasterCard Corporate Profile
MasterCard Incorporated or MasterCard Worldwide is a multinational finances corporation which was founded in 1966 as Master Charge: The Interbank Card. In 1979, the company changed its name to MasterCard. Though the company was founded in California by a banking consortium there, today the MasterCard International Global Headquarters are located in Purchase, New York. For those wondering where Purchase is at, it is found in Westchester County, just outside of New York City (White Plains is the county seat).
MasterCard has total assets of $12.462 billion, with a net income of $2.759 billion, and an yearly revenue of around $9.5 billion. It has 10,300 employees worldwide and is led by President & CEO Ajaypal Singh Banga and Chairman Richard Haythornthwaite.
USAA and MasterCard Video
The following video is a simple commercial for this corporate partnership, but it’s well-done. I’m a visual person and I like the photography. Enjoy.
American Express Company Profile
The American Express Company, often simply called “Amex”, is a multinational financial services corporation which was founded in Buffalo in 1850. Yes, Amex was founded during the presidency of Millard Fillmore–before the Civil War. These days, American Express is located in Three World Financial Center in Manhattan, New York City.
BusinessWeek once listed Amex as the 22nd most valuable brand in the world, while Fortune Magazine listed it as a “Top 20 Most Admired” company in the world. The brand alone is estimated to be worth $14.97 billion. Its current logo was adopted in 1958. The products it offers includes credit cards, charge cards, and traveler’s cheques. Amex offers services to the finance, travel, and insurance industries.
With 165 years to accrue assets, it has assets of $159.1 billion, a net income of $5.885 billion, and a revenue increase of nearly $36 billion. American Express is a massive multinational conglomerate, with over 54,000 employees worldwide. Its chairman and CEO is Kenneth Chenault.
Applying for Secured Credit Cards
Applying for secured credit cards like the USAA Platinum is pretty much a slam dunk, which is why this is recommended. If you have nowhere else to turn, then turn to the USAA Secured Card to build or rebuild your credit rating. Better cards exist for cardholders once you get your foot in the door of modern financing, but this option get you into the system.