USAA has raised the cash-back bar. Its Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card gives an advertised “limitless” 2.5 percent back on all spending with no annual fee.
There are limitations, however, particularly when it comes to your ability to get the card. More on those – and what the card provides to those who can get it – in this review.
The Limitless card, like USAA’s other products, is not available to anyone. You must currently be a USAA member to apply, or fit one of the qualifying circumstances:
- You’re in the U.S. military or received an honorable discharge.
- You are joining the U.S. military.
- Your parent or spouse has (or had) a USAA account.
- Your spouse served in the U.S. military.
You must prove one of the above, and, if you can’t, you will not be able to apply for the Limitless card.
Assuming you get the card, you’ll get 2.5 percent cash back IF:
- You have a USAA checking account.
- You make a direct deposit of at least $1,000 every month (an electronic deposit from your employer would count for this). Deposits must occur every 30 days, but you’ll have 90 days from account-opening to make the first deposit. Transfers from other USAA banking accounts do not count.
If you do NOT meet the checking-account requirement, you will earn 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases.
If you’re humming along, earning 2.5 percent cash back and then fail to make a $1,000 a particular month, USAA will contact you and give you a deadline for making the deposit. If you don’t comply, cash back earned will be reduced to 1.5 percent. If that happens, you can get back to 2.5 percent within five days of making an eligible deposit.
Cash back rewards can be redeemed (in increments of $1) as follows:
- Account credits
- Deposits into a USAA checking or savings account
How it compares
This card is getting buzz because it currently offers the highest flat rate of cash back possible on the market.
Other cards offer up to 6 percent back in certain categories or up to 10 percent for a limited time in certain categories.
USAA itself even has a category card offering up to 5 percent cash back:
But, when it comes to flat-rate cash-back cards, the USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature is now in the lead – its competition comes in at 2 percent cash back or lower.
USAA can afford to offer 2.5 percent back on this card by limiting its applicant pool and by adding some barriers for entry – banking with USAA, for example. Mainstream card products tend to be more flexible and therefore can’t offer that much cash back to the masses.
If you don’t qualify for USAA’s Limitless Cashback Rewards card, here are its closest no-annual-fee competitors:
- Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature: 2 percent cash back when you deposit rewards into an eligible Fidelity account.
- Citi Double Cash: Earn 1 percent cash back when you make a purchase, plus another 1 percent cash back when you pay it off.
- Various 1.5 percent cash back cards: 1.5 percent cash back is where most other flat-rate cash-back cards tend to cluster. The Capital One Quicksilver card was the pioneer, but, these days you’ll find plenty of cards offering 1.5 percent cash back. Find a list here, and see the offers below:
Why we gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars
This card was rated based our standards for cash-back cards, as cash back is its advertised mode of redemption.
It performed strongly in our standards assessing rewards value and earnings rate. It was penalized for its barriers to entry.
|Rewards-earning rate: This card meets our standards for no-annual-fee cards by offering above 1 percent on all spending.|
|Cash-back redemption value: This card meets our standards by giving at least a 1-cent-per point redemption value on cash-back redemptions.|
|Rewards simplicity and transparency: We docked half a star for the $1,000-per-month deposit requirement to unlock the 2.5 percent cash back. However, if you meet that requirement, the redemption process (for statement credits and direct deposit) is clear and simple.|
|Bonus-earning opportunities: This card doesn’t have an advertised sign-up bonus and also doesn’t have a deals program/shopping portal that would allow you to boost your earnings beyond the advertised rate.|
|Unique perks: This card’s extra-high rate of 2.5 percent cash back is, in and of itself, a unique perk. At the time of the card’s launch, it was the only product offering a flat rate of cash back this high.|