PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa card review

PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa card review

Published: November 15, 2017
Ratings Policy
Cash Back Rating:
3.7 rating
3.7 rating
3.7 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.1
Rewards Flexibility: 3.3
Features: 1.0

In a nutshell:

An outstanding card for PenFed credit union customers, the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa card pairs an exceptionally low interest rate with generous rewards for road warriors.

Rewards Rate

  • 3-5% cash back on gas purchases, depending on rewards status
  • 1% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
$100 if you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days

Annual Fee
$0 for plus card; $25 for standard card

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$338

APR
9.24-17.99%

Pros

  • Rewards don’t expire
  • No limit on cash that you can earn
  • Cash automatically credited to your account each month

Cons

  • Can only redeem cash as a deposit into a Pentagon Federal Credit Union account
  • You must have a qualifying PenFed product to qualify for Plus rewards

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, EMV chip, travel accident insurance

Rewards Rating:
3.1 rating
3.1 rating
3.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.5
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.3
Rewards Flexibility: 2.9
Features: 1.0

In a nutshell:

For PenFed members, the Platinum Cash Rewards card offers an excellent bonus on gas purchases and a convenient option to automatically deposit your rewards into your bank account.

Rewards Rate

  • 3-5% cash back on gas purchases, depending on rewards status
  • 1% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
$100 if you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days

Annual Fee
$0 for plus card; $25 for standard card

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$338

APR
9.24-17.99%

Pros

  • Rewards don’t expire
  • No limit on cash that you can earn
  • Cash automatically credited to your account each month

Cons

  • Can only redeem cash as a deposit into a Pentagon Federal Credit Union account
  • You must have a qualifying PenFed product to qualify for Plus rewards

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, EMV chip, travel accident insurance

Pentagon Federal Credit Union members who spend a lot of time on the road should be able to squeeze a substantial amount of value out of this road trip friendly rewards card – especially if they’ve opened another PenFed account, such as a checking account with direct deposit, a money market savings account or a loan. The PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards card offers loyal credit union members with additional PenFed products one of the best cash back rates you can get for gas station purchases.

It also offers an exceptionally low interest rate, making it a good card for carrying a balance. It can be difficult to qualify for Pentagon Federal Credit Union membership, though, so not all readers will benefit. To open an account, you need to be a military service member or government worker or be directly related to one.

Top rewards for PenFed regulars

Loyalty pays with this credit union credit card. Pentagon Federal Credit Union reserves its best cash back rewards for cardholders who have opened at least one other qualifying account, such as a Pentagon Federal Credit Union mortgage, equity loan or equity line of credit, an installment loan, a personal line of credit, thrifty credit service, a checking account with direct deposit, a money market savings account, or a money market or IRA certificate.

Cardholders who qualify for the Plus version of the card will be awarded 5 percent cash back on gas — which is one of the richest gas bonuses available on a card without an annual fee — and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases. Cardholders who don’t have a qualifying PenFed account will also receive a cash back bonus on gas purchases, but the bonus will only amount to 3 percent cash back (which still beats the rates offered by most competitors), rather than 5 percent cash back.

Few additional fees

Cardholders who qualify for the standard version of the cash back card, but not the plus version, will also have to pay a $25 annual fee, which is steep for a card that offers fairly average rewards. However, cardholders will be exempt from a number of other standard credit card fees, including foreign transaction fees, over limit fees and cash advance fees, and will pay less than most on other card terms.

For example, late payments will only cost cardholders $10 to $25, depending on how much was owed. Meanwhile, balance transfers will be charged just 3 percent per transaction. Cardholders who qualify for the plus version of the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards card also won’t have to pay an annual fee.

Uncommonly low APR

In addition to its below average fees and generous cash back bonus on gas, the most appealing feature offered by the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards card is its exceptionally low interest rate. Cardholders with the best credit scores could qualify for an APR as low as 9.24 percent — more than 5 percentage points below the average APR for cash back credit cards. Because it’s a credit union card with limits on how much it can charge, the PenFed card’s maximum rate of 17.99 percent is also relatively low, making it a safer card for consumers with imperfect credit.

Modest sign-up bonus

The PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards card doesn’t offer a huge sign-up bonus, so cardholders will have to wait before they collect a large return. New cardholders are awarded a modest $100 bonus after they spend $1,500 in the card’s first three months.

Few standard credit card perks

The PenFed card also awards relatively few perks compared to most cash back credit cards. For example, it doesn’t offer car rental insurance or purchase protection, which are standard on most cards. However, it does waive foreign transaction fees, which is a big perk for cardholders who frequently travel abroad.

Why get the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards card?

  • You plan to carry a balance and want a low rate card with robust rewards.
  • You have another Pentagon Federal Credit Union account, such as an installment loan or a mortgage, and so qualify for the card’s largest bonus.
  • You prefer cash back instead of points.

 How to use the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards card:

  • Use your card for all your gas purchases in order to receive the maximum amount of cash back.
  • Consider opening a qualifying account such as a checking account with direct deposit or a money market savings account, to qualify for the Plus version of the PenFed Platinum card.
  • Use this card for any foreign purchases you make in order to duck the foreign transaction fee.

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