Credit Card Military Benefits (SCRA)

For just about anything you want to get off your chest about credit cards.
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Battery111
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Credit Card Military Benefits (SCRA)

Postby Battery111 » Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:05 pm

There are a few webpages around the web describing the various benefits credit issuers extend to active duty service members. Unfortunately, there seems to be some incomplete, dated, or just inaccurate info out there. I decided it may be helpful to others who qualify to give you my own experiences with the various issuers I have accounts with.

Firstly, please understand that what creditors are actually required to do under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), and what many choose to do are different things altogether. Understand that while many creditors go far above and beyond what is required by law, they are not obligated to do so. I hope my fellow service members keep this in mind, and don't abuse the good will gesture that many banks give to us. The law only requires creditors to apply the benefits to accounts that were open prior to entering active duty, as a sort of safety net for reservists that may have better paying civilian jobs but are called to active duty and therefore take a pay cut. Also so that those who may have better paying jobs but are considering joining the armed forces have some relief in compensation for their service. These benefits required by law include a provision that while the individual is on active duty, their interest rates may not exceed 6%. There is no mention in the law regarding annual fees, or many of the other things many creditors choose to extend. Again, be grateful.

That being said, some creditors choose to go above and beyond by extending these benefits to service members regardless of whether or not the account was opened prior to active duty status. Following are my experiences with the various creditors I personally have experience with regarding this benefit.

American Express

American Express seems to be among the most military friendly. They don't care whether an account was opened before or after active duty. Upon request of SCRA benefits and their verification, they will waive all annual fees, including the $450 annual fee on the platinum card. Additionally they will waive overlimit fees, late payment fees, returned payment fees, and statement copy request fees. While they don't overtly state it in the letter they send out upon qualification, they waive the fees for additional cardholders for accounts, such as the platinum, that charge for this as well. At least they did for me. I believe they will only reduce the APR to 6% on revolvers for amounts incurred prior to entry into the service. I can't confirm one way or the other for sure, as my only revolver with them is still in it's promo 0% APR period. However looking at my account it appears that it will be the standard APR upon that period expiring. Still, the savings on the platinum alone are more than generous in my opinion.

They are also very painless to get this benefit as well. You just call the number on the back of your card, let them know you're active duty, and request SCRA benefits. They'll take down some basic info such as your BASD and expected separation date. They then let you know they will verify the info in some DOD databases and advise you by mail of their decision. Less than two weeks later I had a letter in my mailbox for each of my accounts advising me I was extended these benefits. Never needed to send any documentation.

One caveat is that after being approved, a few months later I opened up my EDP account. I initially saw the annual fee appear on my first statement. However, a simple phone call to ask about this was all it took. About a week later I received another round of letters for all of my accounts, including the EDP, that they qualified for SCRA status and the AF was refunded. Anecdotal evidence on ye old inter webs suggest that AMEX will even retroactively credit annual fees paid back to your BASD if you had accounts with them for several years before you found out about this benefit.

Discover

Discover is another one that goes above and beyond. They care not whether or not your account was opened prior to entering active service. Upon verification, they will lower your APR to 5.9% for the entire term of your service. They will also do this for spouses of active duty service members. I believe they waive many fees as well, but since Discover doesn't charge many fees anyway, I don't specifically remember which ones. Again, I've read they will retroactively refund interest above 5.9% that you have paid in the past while on active duty once they approve your account for this status. You can even request this status up to 180 days after exiting active duty for retroactive credit.

To request these benefits, just go to discover.com . Towards the bottom of the page, click on frequently asked questions, then military (SCRA) benefits on the left hand side. Follow the instructions. It's pretty simple. They do require documentation but it's easy to get basic things like an LES (Leave and Earnings Statement). Additionally if you're requesting benefits for a spouse account I believe you need to include a marriage certificate, along with the qualifying documentation for the actual service member.

Chase

Chase, while they still go above and beyond the law, are not quite as lax as Discover and AMEX. Chase will only extend these benefits for accounts opened before entry into active duty. I know, I checked and was denied. Again, no hard feelings. Creditors aren't required to extend any benefits whatsoever to accounts established after you enter Active Duty, with the possible exception of deployments.

The only info I can provide is what I've read, as I have no accounts with Chase that existed prior to my enlistment many moons ago. Internet evidence suggests they will reduce your APR to 4%, and waive annual fees. However, some have reported they won't waive the annual fees on the higher AF cards, like the United Club card. Again, I can't say for certain as I have no personal experience. Some have also stated that if you PCS, they will accept those orders as active duty orders and extend the benefits for accounts opened prior to that PCS. I'm sure I'll try again next time I PCS just to see.

You can request this benefit either by calling the number on the back of your card, or initiating an online secure message. They will give you the info to provide documentation, such as an LES or active duty orders, then verify you meet their requirements. You will then receive their decision via snail mail. Everything I've read states they will also retroactively credit all interest over 6% and annual fees if you are approved for the program.

Citi

There is a ton of conflicting info on whether or not Citi extends their benefits to accounts opened after active duty. I've seen an overwhelming number of reports saying they do not, but then a number saying they do. I actually finally decided to request the benefits myself tonight, and submit the requested documentation, so I will report back on my own experience. Again, I don't have any accounts with Citi that were opened prior to entering active duty.

If approved, however, the nice gentleman on the phone stated they would reduce the APR on my cards to 0% for the remainder of my active duty, and retroactively apply this benefit to refund any interest previously paid. Also, they would waive annual fees. He also went so far as to check various databases for any other Citi accounts I may have to ensure they also received the benefit. This included bank accounts, mortgages, car loans, even credit cards with affiliates such as Sears. As I understood him, things like mortgages and car loans ARE NOT reduced to 0%, but if they're higher than 6% they will be reduced to that level and retroactively credited. Dang, that would be a pretty sweet mortgage refi. I appreciated the pro-activeness, and I wasn't summarily denied based on my BASD being before my accounts were established, so here's hoping.

This will be a nice one if they let me have it, since I currently have the Citi Executive AA card. As I have stated in other posts, I'm fully willing to pay for this AF, as I have had an Admirals Club membership for years due to the amount of travel my job requires. Still, I will understand if they decide I don't qualify and won't hold a grudge. I truly don't feel entitled to anything for my career choice, but will accept the savings if offered.

To apply, I recommend calling their SCRA unit at 1-877-804-1082. I've read of spotty responses from first line customer service agents. He requested my BASD and expected separation date. In my case I'm indefinite, and he seemed to understand what that meant and was able to list that, instead of the arbitrary ETS date in my records of 2029. He then provided me with an email to send my LES to. They also accept fax and snail mail, but it seemed quickest and easiest to just download my LES off of MyPay and email it. I should hear back in a week or two regarding their decision.

Barclays

I'm going to come back to them once I know more. Everything I've read is that they're about as good as AMEX about waiving AF's and whatnot. However, I have not yet asked, so I will report back once I do.

I hope this information is helpful to those it applies to. Let me know any questions you may have, and hopefully I will have answers for you. I again ask my fellow service members to please not abuse these benefits. They're truly a privilege, not an entitlement. We all made the decision to sign on the dotted line, and regardless of our own personal reasons for that decision, I would hope it's not because you want everyone to feel they owe you something.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
AMEX Platinum
AMEX Everyday Preferred
USAA AMEX
Discover IT
Chase Freedom
Chase Sapphire Preferred
NFCU nRewards Visa


Twisted Innovator
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Postby Twisted Innovator » Sat Mar 14, 2015 3:41 am

Nice. Thanks Battery

darkguy2
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Postby darkguy2 » Sat Mar 14, 2015 1:00 pm

Nice info. I will pass this along to my brother who's in the Navy. So he could get an Amex Platinum card and then call to get the benefits and have the AF refunded? That seems pretty sweet.
Discover IT - $5,700
Chase Freedom - $5,700
Costco Citi - $13,000
Sallie Mae - $4,000
Chase Sapphire Preferred - $6,000
Chase Sapphire Reserve - $19,500
Citi Double Cash - $6,500
Amex BCE - $13,000

FICOs: Discover (777), SallieMae (764), Amex (767), Citi (772)
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Battery111
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Postby Battery111 » Sat Mar 14, 2015 5:55 pm

darkguy2 wrote:Nice info. I will pass this along to my brother who's in the Navy. So he could get an Amex Platinum card and then call to get the benefits and have the AF refunded? That seems pretty sweet.


That's correct. There doesn't seem to be any way to do it during the initial signup, but the process is pretty smooth once you receive the card and activate it to get the SCRA benefits added. Depending on how quickly he does it, how long they take to verify, and when his statement cuts, he may need to pay the annual fee in the short term, but it will then be refunded and never charged again. At least not until he separates from the service.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
AMEX Platinum
AMEX Everyday Preferred
USAA AMEX
Discover IT
Chase Freedom
Chase Sapphire Preferred
NFCU nRewards Visa

Battery111
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Postby Battery111 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:57 pm

Just wanted to update. I received an E-communication from Citi today denying me for an APR reduction under SCRA since the account was established after I joined. The letter only referred to the APR benefit, there was no mention of the annual fee. I've noticed that I have not yet been charged the AF on the executive card since I did the PC, but I'm not sure if that means anything. I'll keep you guys updated if I find out anything more about the annual fee issue.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
AMEX Platinum
AMEX Everyday Preferred
USAA AMEX
Discover IT
Chase Freedom
Chase Sapphire Preferred
NFCU nRewards Visa

Battery111
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Location: Lawton, ok

Postby Battery111 » Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:20 pm

Just noticed today that I have a credit to my citi account for "refund membership fee". It's for an odd amount, $63.32. I'm just wondering if it's prorated to when I put in the request to receive any benefits. I'm perfectly cool with that if so. I still haven't been charged the AF on the executive card so I guess we'll see what happens there.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
AMEX Platinum
AMEX Everyday Preferred
USAA AMEX
Discover IT
Chase Freedom
Chase Sapphire Preferred
NFCU nRewards Visa

rockyrock
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Postby rockyrock » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:16 am

Thanks for posting such a comprehensive list!

I too have benefited greatly from this during a recent 33 month recall. Amex retroactively credited me nearly $1700 for AFs, finance charges, etc. It was like getting the last three years of my Platinum card for free! It only took a short call to customer service and I was set, they did everything from there.

The best part was I was nearly a year out of service when I applied for the benefit.

My experiences, YMMV.
American Express (2005): Green & Blue Cash Everyday
Chase: Freedom & UA Club USAA: Signature Visa & American Express
Discover it Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines WEMC Synchrony Sam's MC
Navy FCU Platinum Visa Citi Double Cash & AT&T Access MC

TWest
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Postby TWest » Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:50 pm

I've been an AmEx Green Card holder for around six months now. I only applied because I received a pre-screened offer in the mail. Two days ago, I called to ask about upgrading my card. The CSR informed me that I had an offer for a platinum card in my profile. I can attest to their customer service in regards to the SCRA. They have waived my AF for my green card, and I'm sure will do the same when I receive my Platinum. I didn't realize that Discover offered a similar service as well in regards to post-enlistment. I plan to call them first thing in the morning to inquire. Thank you for the detailed post!

Battery111
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Postby Battery111 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:31 pm

Glad I could help a few guys. I'm going to report back again in a month or so to let everyone know if I in fact have the AF on the AA executive card waived. I also have what is now the Aviator Red card from Barclays. I have not yet called them but as I said before I will once I do to see if they waive the fees for accounts created after service entry as well.

There have been reports that Chase will waive the fees if you produce PCS orders or deployment orders with a date after the account was created. If true you don't necessarily need to have had the account prior to entry into service, just prior to your most recent PCS. If anyone here has a card that meets that definition and is willing to be a guinnea pig, please report back with your experience.
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
AMEX Platinum
AMEX Everyday Preferred
USAA AMEX
Discover IT
Chase Freedom
Chase Sapphire Preferred
NFCU nRewards Visa

Battery111
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Location: Lawton, ok

Postby Battery111 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:04 pm

To report back, the $450 AF on the Citi AA Executive card hit today, so it seems no joy for citi on AF waiver if the account was established after entry to active duty.

I would like to re-emphasize this isn't a huge deal. Prior to getting this card I analyzed the fee, compared it to the benefits, and determined that in my very specific case the AF was worth it for me. Getting it waived would have been nice but I'm not the type to throw a fit because someone isn't giving me something for nothing. Almost everything here is YMMV so enter into agreements willing to adhere to the published terms if all else fails. We're owed nothing but our paycheck, and only that if congress approves our budget annually . . .
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
AMEX Platinum
AMEX Everyday Preferred
USAA AMEX
Discover IT
Chase Freedom
Chase Sapphire Preferred
NFCU nRewards Visa



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