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PenFed Credit Union is a federal financial institution that has over 1.5 million members and roots in serving US military personnel. But don’t worry if you’re not affiliated with the military — you can still apply. PenFed cards come with the same bells and whistles you’ve come to expect from bigger providers, including rewards, promo APRs and no-annual-fee cards.
What's in this guide?
Best of PenFed credit cards
PenFed offers a handful of cards, but each carves a unique niche. Chances are there’s one that fits your needs and spending.
Best card for travel rewards: PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card
- Rewards: Best for travel. Earn 3x points on travel purchases and 1.5x points on all other purchases. If you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member, you’re bumped up to 4x points on travel. You can qualify by opening a PenFed Access America checking account or by being a member of military services.
- Welcome offer: 25,000 points. Spend $2,500 on purchases within the first 90 days your account is open to earn your welcome offer.
- Promo APR: 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months. This is a solid promo APR on balance transfers. After the promo period expires, your balance transfer APR reverts to 12.74% to 17.99% variable. Transfer balances before March 31, 2020 to qualify.
- $100 annual air travel credit. Use the credit toward incidental charges like baggage fees, lounge passes and in-flight refreshments.
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit. Every five years, you’re eligible for a statement credit equal to your $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck application fee.
Best for flat cash back: PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
- Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases. A simple — and solid — rewards rate that doesn’t require keeping track of categories. PenFed Honors Advantage members get 2% cash back on purchases. To qualify, just open an Access America Checking account. You can also qualify as a military services member.
- Promo APR: 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months. This is a solid promo APR on balance transfers. After the promo expires, your APR reverts to a variable 11.74% to 17.99%. You must transfer balances before March 31, 2020, to qualify.
- Signup bonus: $100 statement credit after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days. It’s not as strong as the bonuses you’ll find with other cards, but it’s a nice sweetener for a card with no annual fee.
Best for gas and grocery rewards: PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card
- Rewards: Best for gas and groceries. Earn an unlimited 5x points on gas and 3x on groceries — surprisingly good rewards that make the card a contender with some of the top players on the market. On all other purchases, you’ll earn 1x points.
- Signup bonus: $100 statement credit after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days. It’s not as high a bonus as other cards offer, but it’s a nice sweetener for a card with no annual fee.
- Promo APR: Enjoy a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months. This is a solid promo APR on balance transfers. After the promo period expires, your APR reverts to 11.74% to 17.99% variable. Transfer your balances before March 31, 2020, to qualify.
Best for low APR: PenFed Gold Visa® Card
- Potentially low variable APR. Depending on your credit, your normal purchase, balance transfer and cash advance APR will be between 8.24% to 17.99% variable. This is a relatively low rate, considering the average credit card APR is around 16%.
- Signup bonus: 100 statement credit after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days. It’s not as strong as the bonuses you’ll find with other cards, but it’s a nice sweetener for a card with no annual fee.
- Promo APR: 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. This is a solid promo APR on balance transfers, reverting to 8.99% to 17.99% variable after the promo expires. You must transfer balances before March 31, 2020, to qualify.
Best for no fees: PenFed Promise Visa® Card
- No fees. Pay zero fees for balance transfers, cash advances and foreign transactions. And you won’t be assessed penalty fees for late payments, returned payments or overlimit transactions.
- Signup bonus: $100 statement credit after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days. It’s not as high as bonuses you’ll find with other cards, but it’s a nice sweetener for a no-fee card.
- Promo APR: 4.99% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. It’s not a 0% intro APR, but it’s a low rate supported by no balance transfer fees. After the promo APR expires, you’ll receive an ongoing APR of 12.49% to 17.99%. Transfers must be made before March 31, 2020 to qualify.
Quick look at best PenFed credit cards
- PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card: Best card for travel rewards.
- PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card: Best card for cashback rewards.
- PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card: Best card for gas and grocery rewards.
- PenFed Gold Visa® Card: Best card for low APR rewards.
- PenFed Promise Visa® Card: Best card for no fees.
How we selected our best cards
We examined all of PenFed’s cards, identifying their flagship features and classifying them as best for certain categories. Each card offers specialized perks in their respective spaces, and these benefits hold up very well against those you’ll find from other card providers.
Compare PenFed credit cards
Full list of PenFed credit cards
How to apply for a PenFed card
Apply for a credit card through the PenFed Credit Union website. Before you apply, check that you meet the eligibility requirements and prepare the required information.
- You’re at least 18 years old.
- You’re a US citizen or permanent resident.
- You’re a member of the PenFed Credit Union.
Am I eligible for PenFed membership?
Though this card is geared toward those with military affiliations, anyone can become Pentagon Federal Credit Union member.
Previously, if you had no military affiliation, you could become a member by making a $17 one-time donation to Voices for America’s Troops or National Military Family Association. This is no longer a requirement.
Information you’ll need
To complete PenFed’s application, you’ll provide information that includes:
- Your name and residential address.
- Your Social Security number and date of birth.
- Your email address and phone number.
- Financial information like your annual income and income source.
PenFed rewards program
PenFed’s rewards cards offer either cash back or points, depending on the product you choose.
If your card offers cash back, you can redeem your rewards for a:
- Statement credit to your account.
- Deposit into your PenFed checking account.
- Deposit into your PenFed share account.
- Deposit via ACH into an account at another institution.
If your card offers points, redeem them for a variety of rewards that include:
- Gift cards and certificates.
- Travel redemption toward hotels, car rentals, flights, vacation tours and vacation deals.
How can you redeem points?
To redeem points, log in to the PenFed Rewards Redemption Center with your account credentials. Follow the instructions specific to your card.
How much are points worth?
PenFed points are worth the industry standard of 1 point generally equals 1 cent. That’s great news especially since the credit union’s products offer strong rewards compared to the competition.
Typical card features and benefits of a PenFed card
- PenFed Honors Advantage bonus. PenFed cards typically offer good rewards by default. But if you’re an Honors Advantage member, you’ll get a boost to your earnings. You can become a member if you’re part of military services, or by signing up for an Access America checking account.
- Potentially low normal APR. PenFed may offer you a normal APR as low as 8.24% variable on all balances with the PenFed Gold Visa® Card.
- Promo APR on balance transfers. Most PenFed cards come with a promo APR on balance transfers when you request your transfer by a certain date.
- No annual or foreign transaction fees. PenFed doesn’t charge annual or foreign transaction fees on any of its cards.
- Signup bonus. Most PenFed cards offer a relatively easy-to-earn signup bonus after you spend a certain amount on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.
See offers for cards from other brands
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How does PenFed keep my credit card information secure?
PenFed offers many of the same security features that you’ll find with big banks. For example, it encrypts sensitive information you send online, and you’re logged out automatically if your web session idles.
The credit union offers 24/7 fraud monitoring, and you’re not liable for unauthorized charges to your account. For extra security, you can sign up for Card Security Text Alerts. If PenFed spots an unusual transaction on your card account, it texts you a message. At that time, you can validate or reject the transaction.
All PenFed cards come with EMV — Europay, Mastercard and Visa — chip technology. For the most part, this makes them more secure than magnetic-stripe cards.
For solid credit cards with no annual fee, consider PenFed Credit Union. If you have strong credit, you might qualify for a low interest rate on all of your balances. And if you’re hunting for rewards, you’ll find highly attractive options.
Before applying for any card, learn more about other providers offering no-fee cards to get a full view of what’s offered.
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