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PenFed Defender Visa Signature card review

PenFed Defender Visa Signature card review

Published: December 17, 2018
Published: December 17, 2018
Ratings Policy
Cash Back Rating:
0 rating
0 rating
0 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.9
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.2
Rewards Flexibility: 3.3
Features: 4.0

In a Nutshell:

The PenFed Defender Visa Signature card offers a lower APR than most cash back credit cards, as well as simple, straightforward rewards. This offer is no longer available.

Rewards Rate
1.5% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus

Annual Fee

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)


Rewards Redemption

  • Cash rewards don’t expire
  • No limit on cash back
  • Redeem any amount of cash back
  • Cash is automatically credited to account


  • Can’t transfer cash to other accounts
  • Can’t redeem cash for gift cards or other types of rewards

Other Notable Features: Car rental insurance, extended warranty, purchase protection, travel and emergency assistance, travel discounts and upgrades, concierge service, roadside dispatch

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more affordable cash back card with a comparable rewards rate than this flat-rate rewards card. The PenFed Defender Visa Signature card offers a strikingly low interest rate for cardholders with high scores, making it a good choice if you plan to carry a balance but still want to be rewarded for your spending. The Defender card’s simple rewards structure also makes it appealing if you don’t want to mess with bonus points or rotating categories.

Unfortunately, the card isn’t available to everyone. Only cardholders who are eligible for a Pentagon Federal Credit Union membership – including military service members, government employees and their families – are eligible to apply.

Industry-leading APR

At 10.74 percent, the starting APR on the PenFed Defender card is about as low as you can get these days for a rewards card. The average rewards card charges a minimum of 16.06 percent, while the average cash back card charges a minimum of 16.17 percent, according to data.

Fuss-free rewards

The PenFed Defender card doesn’t skimp on the rewards it offers, either. Cardholders are awarded 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase, which is generous for a card with such a low APR. Most rewards cards with comparably low interest rates offer a measly 1 percent cash back per dollar.

The Defender card’s low maintenance rewards program is also ideal for cardholders who don’t want to mess with complicated rewards programs that require you to opt in and keep track of rotating bonuses.

Relatively few limits

The PenFed Defender card comes with fewer limits than many cash back cards. For example, there’s no limit on the cash back you can earn. So if you’re a relatively heavy spender, you can take home a substantial amount. There’s also no expiration date, so you can leave your cash sitting in your account for as long as you want without worrying you’ll lose it. Unlike many cash back cards, PenFed doesn’t set a minimum for how much you can take out, nor does it make you request cash when you need it. Instead, the credit union will automatically deposit your cash into your account each month.

Decent perks

For such a low-rate credit card, the PenFed Defender card includes a generous suite of perks. Because it’s a Visa Signature card, the card offers a range of premium travel perks, including car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, travel and emergency assistance, roadside assistance, travel discounts, upgrades and more. It also offers round-the-clock concierge service, extended warranty and purchase protection among other valuable cardholder benefits. Many cards with comparable perks either charge a higher APR or require some kind of annual fee.

Why get the PenFed Defender Visa Signature card?

  • You plan to carry a balance but still want to be rewarded for your spending.
  • You want premium perks and generous rewards without paying a premium price.
  • You’re looking for simple, straightforward rewards without the fuss.
  • You’re already a Pentagon Federal Credit Union member and want a card with the same credit union.

How to use the PenFed Defender Visa Signature card:

  • Spend at least $500 a month for the card’s first three months to earn the $100 rewards bonus.
  • Use your card for all purchases in order to maximize your rewards earnings.
  • Pay for domestic travel with your PenFed Defender card in order to take advantage of the travel benefits.

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All reviews are prepared by staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

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