Reviews PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card review

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card review

Published: July 18, 2017
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Balance Transfer Rating:
2.5 rating
2.5 rating
2.5 / 5
Introductory Offer: 2.2
Net Value: 3.2
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

Though the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card comes with a very reasonable regular APR, the 12-month interest-free period for balance transfers is far too short.

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0% Introductory Period
12 months

Transfer Fee
3%

Introductory Purchase APR
None

Regular APR
9.49-17.99% (variable)

Annual Fee
$0

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, EMV chip, PenFed Digital Wallet, Visa Signature benefits

Cash Back Rating:
4.2 rating
4.2 rating
4.2 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.8
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.0
Rewards Flexibility: 3.7
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card, a new addition to the very limited category of 2 percent cash back cards, combines generous rewards with a low APR.

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Rewards Rate

  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • 2% cash back for current/former military members or with Access America checking account

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

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$351

APR
9.49-17.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption

Pros

  • No limit on how much cash back you can earn
  • No categories to enroll in
  • Redeem any amount of cash back

Cons

  • Rewards expire after 5 years
  • Can redeem only as a statement credit or deposit in PenFed account, unless you are an Honors Advantage member
  • No options to transfer or pool rewards

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, EMV chip, PenFed Digital Wallet, Visa Signature benefits

Low Interest Rating:
2.5 rating
2.5 rating
2.5 / 5
Rates, Fees, Penalties: 2.4
Rewards: 4.7
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card offers a low interest rate and reasonable fees and penalties, but the card doesn’t include an introductory offer for new purchases. Cardholders seeking to finance a new purchase may be better off finding a card with a 0 percent APR.

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Regular APR
9.49-17.99% (variable)

Introductory Purchase APR
None

Introductory Balance Transfer APR
0%

Fees

  • No annual fee
  • 3% balance transfer
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 5% or $5 cash advance (whichever is higher)

Penalties

  • Up to $25 late fee
  • 17.99% penalty APR
  • Up to $25 returned payment fee

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, EMV chip, PenFed Digital Wallet, Visa Signature benefits

No Annual Fee Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.1
Rewards Flexibility: 3.4
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

With no annual fee, a low interest rate and a high 2 percent cash back rate, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card is a great value, but you’ll have to pass a few entrance requirements to qualify.

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Rewards Rate

  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • 2% cash back for current/former military members or with Access America checking account

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

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$351

APR
9.49-17.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption

Pros

  • No limit on how much cash back you can earn
  • No categories to enroll in
  • Redeem any amount of cash back

Cons

  • Rewards expire after 5 years
  • Can redeem only as a statement credit or deposit in PenFed account, unless you are an Honors Advantage member
  • No options to transfer or pool rewards

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, EMV chip, PenFed Digital Wallet, Visa Signature benefits

Rewards Rating:
3.4 rating
3.4 rating
3.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.5
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.3
Rewards Flexibility: 3.4
Features: 2.0

In a nutshell:

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature card awards a high 2 percent cash back rate, but only PenFed  members can apply.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • 2% cash back for current/former military members or with Access America checking account

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

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$351

APR
9.49-17.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption

Pros

  • No limit on how much cash back you can earn
  • No categories to enroll in
  • Redeem any amount of cash back

Cons

  • Rewards expire after 5 years
  • Can redeem only as a statement credit or deposit in PenFed account, unless you are an Honors Advantage member
  • No options to transfer or pool rewards

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, EMV chip, PenFed Digital Wallet, Visa Signature benefits

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While there are many points-based cards that offer a 2 percent rewards rate, a 2 percent cash back card is a rare phenomenon. Among a smattering of cards, the Citi Double Cash card – which offers 1 percent cash back on purchases and another 1 percent when you pay on time – and the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature – which allots 2 percent cash back to bank account holders – are the most widely available. The new PenFed Power Cash Rewards card joins their ranks by offering up to 2 percent cash back to qualifying card members.

Like the Citi and Fidelity cards, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards card requires card members to cross some hurdles to obtain the full 2 percent rewards rate.  But, especially for current and former military members, those hurdles are not difficult to clear and the rewards are well worth it for those who prefer a simple rewards program. Also, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards cards comes with a very low interest rate, making it a particularly great value.

High general rewards rate
The PenFed Power Cash Rewards card comes with a base rate of 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. This in itself is a high rewards rate, and may be a good incentive for current customers of PenFed credit union to spring for a new card.

For qualifying card members, the rate goes up to 2 percent cash back on every purchase. Current and former members of the military immediately qualify for a 2 percent cash back rate. Other cardholders who meet the general eligibility requirements for PenFed membership can qualify for the 2 percent rate if they sign up for an Access American checking account.

Fair sign-up bonus
The no annual fee PenFed Power Cash Rewards card offers a $100 statement credit to new cardholders who spend $1,500 in the first 90 days. While this is a relatively modest amount compared to the best sign-up bonuses on cash back cards, it is an impressive bonus for a 2 percent cash back card. Neither the Citi Double Cash card nor the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card includes a sign-up bonus, so this feature gives the PenFed Power Cash Rewards card an edge over those two cards.

Some barriers to entry
The PenFed Power Cash rewards card is a military card, which means that cardholders who are not current or former military members may have a harder – though not impossible – time getting this card. All card applicants must be members of PenFed credit union in order to qualify. PenFed membership is open to current and former members of the U.S. military and armed forces, employees of the U.S. government and relatives of an eligible individual. If you don’t fit one of these categories, you can still qualify for a PenFed account by joining an eligible organization, such as the National Military Family Organization or Voice for America’s Troops.

Also, as mentioned above, card members – with the exception of current and former military members – must enroll in an Access America checking account in order to receive the 2 percent cash back rate. On the plus side, the requirements for a checking account are reasonable. There are no monthly service fees as long as you maintain at least $500 in the account.

Simple rewards with some limits
As a flat-rate cash back card, the PenFed Power Cash rewards card aims to keep things simple, with no rewards categories to enroll in or keep track of. There are, however, some restrictions on redeeming your cash rewards. Unless you are an Honors Advantage member, your cash back can be redeemed only as a statement credit or a deposit into a PenFed account. Also, rewards expire after five years. While this is a fairly long period to redeem your rewards, most cash back cards don’t impose any expiration on rewards. Because of the five-year expiration, PenFed Power Cash card members will need to pay attention to make sure they don’t lose any of their cash back.

On the plus side, the card allows you to redeem any amount of cash, which means you can redeem your rewards at any time to avoid hitting the expiration date.

No foreign transaction fees
The PenFed Power Cash card does not charge a fee for foreign transactions – a rare feature for a no-fee card. This makes the card a great value for military members – and other card members – who spend a lot of time overseas. No foreign transaction fees means you can freely use the card without worrying about racking up a long list of fees. Also, the card is a Visa Signature card and comes with Visa Signature benefits and travel protections to make your trip a little easier.

Why get it:

  • You already have a savings or checking account with PenFed.
  • You want a cash back card with a high overall rewards rate.
  • You want a simple rewards program with no bonus categories to enroll in or keep track of.
  • You want a great rewards card with no annual fee and reasonable rates and fees overall.
  • You are looking for a good card to use overseas that charges no foreign transaction fees.

How to use it:

  • Enroll in an Access America checking account to qualify for the card’s 2 percent cash back rate. (Note that current and former military members qualify for the higher rate without a checking account.)
  • Use this card for all of your purchases, since the general rewards rate is high.
  • Be sure to redeem your cash back before it expires in five years.
  • Use this card while traveling abroad, since it doesn’t charge a fee for foreign transactions.

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