Top 10 things I’d do if I were in the military


A few days ago, fellow BoardingArea blogger, The Military Frequent Flyer, published “How to Get Your Annual Fees Waived on American Express.”  This was a guest post by the author of a financial blog: Military Money Manual.  And, the guest post linked to the original (and more complete) post: American Express Waives All Card Holder Fees for Active Duty Military.  Wow!  Amex will waive card fees for active duty military personnel.  This includes annual fees.

If I were in the military I’d be really stoked about this!  Amex cards offer some of the best perks in the industry, but often with exorbitant annual fees.  If I were in the military, here is what I would do:

  1. I would get the Amex Platinum card (usual annual fee: $450).  In addition to airport lounge benefits, I’d make full use of the card’s annual $200 airline fee credits.  I would also sign up for all of the elite benefits the card offers (see details here).
  2. I would get the Amex Mercedes-Benz Platinum card ($475).  The benefits of this card almost completely overlap with the regular Platinum card (unless you want to buy a Mercedes), but I would happily make use of the additional $200 in airline fee credits.
  3. I would get the Blue Cash Preferred card ($75) so as to get 6% cash back at grocery stores (up to $6K spend per year).
  4. I would get the Delta Reserve card ($450) for its annual companion pass, free checked bags, and priority boarding.  SkyClub access wouldn’t be worth much since I would already get in for free thanks to all of the other cards listed above!
  5. I would get the Premier Rewards Gold card ($175) so as to earn 3X for paid flights and 2X at gas stations and supermarkets.
  6. I would get the Starwood Preferred Guest card ($65) so as to earn extra SPG points during SPG stays.  If I was chasing Platinum elite status with Starwood, the card would help by giving me credit towards 5 elite nights per year and 2 elite stays.  I wouldn’t use it to chase SPG Gold status, though, since my Platinum cards would give me that for free.
  7. I would ask Amex if they would also waive fees for business cards.  If so, I’d consider: The Business Platinum card ($200 more in refunded airline fees!), The Delta Reserve business card (another free companion pass!), SPG business card (more credit towards elite status), and the Business Gold Rewards card (2X online advertising and shipping).
  8. I would accept an invitation for the American Express Centurion card and ask them to waive the $7,500 initiation fee and $2,500 annual fee (see the Membership Agreement here).  The card’s benefits are very similar to the much less expensive (relative to this one) Platinum card(s), but it does additionally include elite status to a few airline programs.  Unfortunately, you have to be invited to this one and that’s only likely to happen if you’re super rich.  So… which branch of the military would make me super rich while I’m still serving?
  9. I would call the other banks where I have credit cards and ask them if they would match Amex’s offer.  I doubt it would work, but you never know!
  10. And, last, but not least, I would hopefully serve our country well.  Would they let me keep blogging too?

No, I’m not seriously considering joining the military.  And, no, I’m not advocating joining just for free credit cards.  If you’re in the military, though, this post might be helpful to see some of the benefits you can get for free from American Express.  I think its awesome that Amex does this for our military!

Ironically, I already have most of the cards listed above even though they’re not free for me.  For some, I am in the middle of a first year free offer.  And, for a few, I paid the annual fee when I signed up because the signup bonus made it well worth it.  In both of these cases, when the annual fees comes due I’ll decide then whether to keep, cancel, or downgrade the cards.  In addition to those first year trial situations, though, I have several Amex cards where I feel that the perks are worth the annual fee and so I do pay for them year after year.

One other thing worth mentioning here: once every year, American Express does its Small Business Saturday thing where they give you back up to $25 for using their cards at local small businesses.  The more Amex cards you have, the more you can support local businesses and get paid back.

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