Reviews PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature card review
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature card review

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature card review

Published: April 25, 2017
Ratings Policy
No Annual Fee Rating:
4.5 rating
4.5 rating
4.5 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.8
Rewards Flexibility: 4.1
Features: 4.6

In a nutshell:

The Platinum Rewards Visa Signature card offers a 5 percent rewards rate on gas purchases, a 3 percent rewards rate on grocery purchases, plus some pretty decent travel perks for a no-annual-fee card. Though the rewards points are worth a little less than the average rewards point, you can still rack up a pretty high return on your spending.

Rewards Rate

  • 5:1 gas purchases
  • 3:1 grocery purchases
  • 1:1 general purchases

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

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$289

APR
9.24-17.99%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No limit on the number of points you can earn
  • No blackout dates
  • Redeem points for travel, merchandise or gift cards
  • Option to pay for travel with partial pointsC

Cons

  • Points are worth less than a penny each
  • Must go through Pentagon Federal Credit Union to redeem points for travel
  • $15 fee for online bookings and a $25 fee for bookings by phone
  • Points expire after 5 years
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty programs

Other Notable Features: No foreign-transaction fees, extended warranty, purchase security, travel discounts and upgrades, special access to dining and entertainment events, concierge service, shopping discounts, emergency card services, roadside dispatch, travel and emergency assistance services, car rental insurance

Rewards Rating:
3.4 rating
3.4 rating
3.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.7
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.9
Rewards Flexibility: 4.1
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

With an affordable APR and some of the best rewards you can get on gas and grocery purchases, the PenFed Platinum Rewards card is a great card for heavy-spending families.

Rewards Rate

  • 5:1 gas purchases
  • 3:1 grocery purchases
  • 1:1 general purchases

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

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$289

APR
9.24-17.99%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No limit on the number of points you can earn
  • No blackout dates
  • Redeem points for travel, merchandise or gift cards
  • Option to pay for travel with partial points

Cons

  • Points are worth less than a penny each
  • Must go through Pentagon Federal Credit Union to redeem points for travel
  • $15 fee for online bookings and a $25 fee for bookings by phone
  • Points expire after 5 years
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty programs

Other Notable Features: No foreign-transaction fees, extended warranty, purchase security, travel discounts and upgrades, special access to dining and entertainment events, concierge service, shopping discounts, emergency card services, roadside dispatch, travel and emergency assistance services, car rental insurance

Travel Rating:
3.2 rating
3.2 rating
3.2 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.4
Annual Percentage Rate: 5.0
Rewards Flexibility: 4.1
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The PenFed Platinum Rewards card offers generous rewards and ample benefits for an appealing price, but its travel booking fees drag down the card’s appeal.

Rewards Rate

  • 5:1 gas purchases
  • 3:1 grocery purchases
  • 1:1 general purchases

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

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$289

APR
9.24-17.99%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No limit on the number of points you can earn
  • No blackout dates
  • Redeem points for travel, merchandise or gift cards
  • Option to pay for travel with partial points

Cons

  • Points are worth less than a penny each
  • Must go through Pentagon Federal Credit Union to redeem points for travel
  • $15 fee for online bookings and a $25 fee for bookings by phone
  • Points expire after 5 years
  • Can’t transfer points to other loyalty programs

Other Notable Features: No foreign-transaction fees, extended warranty, purchase security, travel discounts and upgrades, special access to dining and entertainment events, concierge service, shopping discounts, emergency card services, roadside dispatch, travel and emergency assistance services, car rental insurance

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If you’re looking to rack up points with everyday purchases, but don’t want to overspend on interest, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature card is worth a careful look. This dependable credit union card offers one of the highest rewards rates available for gas and grocery purchases, making it one of our favorite cards for everyday purchases. If your primary goal is to earn rewards in order to fund free travel, though, you may be disappointed. The PenFed Platinum Rewards card offers more flexibility than many rewards credit cards, but it charges onerous booking fees when you redeem points for travel.

The PenFed card’s availability is also limited. The Platinum Rewards card is only available to cardholders eligible for a Pentagon Federal Credit Union membership, including military service members, government employees and their families.

Excellent rewards rate
If you spend a lot on gas and groceries, but prefer to use credit for your purchases, it’s hard to go wrong with this family-friendly credit card. The PenFed Platinum Rewards card offers five points for every dollar you spend on gas, making it an ideal card to take with you on the road. It also offers three points for every dollar you spend on groceries. All other purchases earn one point for every dollar spent. Amounting to just $.008 each, the Platinum Rewards card’s rewards points are worth slightly less than the average credit card rewards point, which typically goes for about a penny each. However, the points are still valuable enough to add up quickly – especially if you spend a lot on gas.

Enough points to fund an airline ticket
Despite the PenFed card’s slightly less generous points value, you don’t need to be a heavy spender to take home a substantial amount with this credit union card. For example, if you spend just $1,325 a month, we estimate you’ll take home roughly $288 a year, which is significantly more money than most rewards cards with similar terms offer.

Meanwhile, if you spend more than $1,325 a month, you’ll easily earn enough points to purchase a round-trip flight or lengthy luxury hotel stay – especially since the Platinum Rewards card doesn’t restrict how many points you can earn. In addition, Pentagon Federal Credit Union gives you a small head start in your card’s first year by offering you a $100 sign-up bonus if you spend $1,500 – roughly $500 a month – in the card’s first 90 days.

Significant drawbacks for aspiring travelers
On the downside, Pentagon Federal Credit Union charges a sizable booking fee for cardholders who redeem points for travel, which drags down the card’s overall value and makes it less appealing as a travel rewards card. Like most lenders, Pentagon Federal Credit Union requires you to book travel through the credit union, limiting your ability to snag the best ticket for the least expensive price. In addition, it charges a $15 booking fee for online booking and a $25 booking fee if you book travel by phone. That’s the equivalent of spending an extra 1,875 to 3,125 rewards points just on booking travel.  A round-trip domestic flight, by comparison, costs around 50,000 rewards points.

Low fees and APR
The PenFed Platinum Rewards card’s consumer-friendly terms are among its best features. Cardholders with the highest scores are charged a minimum APR of just 9.24 percent, which is well below average for a rewards credit card. Meanwhile, cardholders with lower scores are charged a maximum APR of just 17.99 percent. The credit union also limits the number of fees it charges and doesn’t penalize cardholders nearly as much as some competitors. For example, it doesn’t charge a foreign-transaction or cash advance fee and it keeps the card’s late fees and penalty APR relatively low.

Reasons to get it:

  • You want an affordable rewards card that you can depend on for everyday purchases.
  • You spend a lot on gas and groceries and so can earn the maximum amount.
  • You don’t plan to travel or don’t mind paying a $15 to $25 booking fee.

How to use it:

  • To maximize the card’s value, use it for all gas and grocery purchases.
  • Consider signing family members on as authorized users in order to squeeze more rewards from your family’s monthly spending.
  • Compare prices before you redeem points for travel. You may be better off shopping around for airfare and hotel stays and redeeming points for gift cards or merchandise.

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