The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card is not one of our top-rated rewards credit cards. You can review our list of the best rewards credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card
The chance for a high, flat rewards rate
Decent balance transfer savings
Light on fees
Relatively low introductory bonus
Requires a relationship to maximize rewards
No introductory 0% APR on purchases
- The Chance for a High, Flat Rewards Rate: The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card offers up to 2% cash back on every purchase you make, which is among the best rewards rates you can get with a cash-back credit card. The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Card offers 2.5% back on every purchase, but it also charges a $99 annual fee after the first year. This card, on the other hand, has no annual fee.
- Decent Balance Transfer Savings: If you transfer a balance from another credit card during the introductory period, you’ll pay no interest for 12 months. After that, the card’s balance transfer interest rate will apply only to the remaining balance, if applicable. Depending on how much credit card debt you have, this feature could save you hundreds of dollars in interest. Just keep in mind that a 3% balance transfer fee will be added to your balance. But compared with the potential savings, the upfront fee may be more than worth it.
- Light on Fees: It’s common for a cash-back credit card to have no annual fee. But charging no foreign transaction fees is associated more with travel credit cards, making it a standout feature for the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card. In addition, the card charges no cash-advance fees, and its charges for late or returned payments are lower than those for most major credit cards. If you’re thinking of using the card for cash advances, though, it’s important to note that those transactions carry the card’s highest APR. What’s more, interest on cash advances begins accruing immediately—there is no grace period like the one you get with purchases.
- Relatively Low Introductory Bonus: Most of the best cash-back credit cards provide welcome offers worth $150 or even $200, and you usually only have to spend $1,000 or less to qualify. With this card you'll get $100 after spending $1,500. If you want a card with a slightly higher one-time offer with a lower spending requirement, this card may not be the best bet.
- Requires a Relationship to Maximize Rewards: Unless you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member, you’ll earn just 1.5% cash back with the card, which you can get with a long list of other credit cards. To become an Honors Advantage member, you must either be a member of the military (active duty, reserve, honorably discharged, or retired) or maintain a PenFed Access America Checking Account. The account carries a $10 monthly servicing fee, which comes to $120 per year, but you can get that fee waived if you have a daily balance or monthly direct deposit of $500 or more. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to join PenFed before you can apply for a checking account or credit card. However, anyone is eligible to join.
- No Introductory 0% APR on Purchases: Getting an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers can be helpful if you have a lot of existing credit card debt. But if you’re looking to make a large purchase and pay it down over time, you won’t get a similar benefit on new purchases. Several other cash-back credit cards offer a 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers, giving you more flexibility.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Prefers uncomplicated rewards with single rate for all spending
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card is best suited for military members and people who use PenFed Credit Union for their regular banking. If you’re thinking of opening a PenFed Access America Checking Account solely for the 2% cash-back rate, you’ll need to make sure you meet the requirements for avoiding its monthly fee.
This card may also be appealing if you don’t want the hassle of dealing with multiple rewards rates. While tiered-rewards cards can help you maximize your cash back in certain categories, some credit card users might enjoy the simplicity of a flat rate for all purchases.
If you’d like similar cash back without becoming a PenFed Honors Advantage member, consider the Citi Double Cash Card, which offers 1% on purchases and 1% when you pay your bill, or the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card instead.
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card One-Time Offer
The card offers a $100 statement credit after you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days from the date you open your account. That requirement comes out to $500 per month on average, so reconsider if your typical spending is below that. Remember, many other cash-back cards have bigger welcome offers and require you to spend only $500 or $1,000 to earn them.
Rewards Earning Details
The card offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. That rewards rate jumps to 2% cash back if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member. The higher rate is one of the best cash-back rates you can get, but if you’re not a member of the military and don’t want to open a new checking account, consider one of the other 2% cash-back cards on the market.
Rewards Redemption Details
PenFed offers three redemption options for your cash-back rewards:
- Statement credit posted to your credit card account
- Deposit into your PenFed checking or share account
- Transfer to an account with another financial institution
There’s no minimum redemption amount listed in the program guide, and your rewards will never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. If you’re thinking of closing your account, though, be sure to redeem your rewards first. Otherwise, you’ll forfeit what you’ve earned.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
The best way to maximize your rewards is to become a PenFed Honors Advantage member. If you’re a member of the military community, you won’t need to do anything to make that happen—it’s automatic.
But if you need to open the credit union’s flagship checking account to become a member, you’ll want to be sure you always satisfy the requirements to have the monthly fee waived. Otherwise, that cost will eat into the extra rewards you’re earning with the card.
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card’s Outstanding Benefits
- Event access, upgrades, savings on entertainment, and additional Visa Signature card benefits
- Unique culinary events, which includes special access and savings at more than 50 wineries in Sonoma Country
- Discounts at top retailers and online merchants
- Special offers on golf experiences, event tickets, and more. Plus, golf benefits at more than 95 courses worldwide through Troon Rewards, as well as discounts on premium ground transportation with Silvercar Audi rentals
- Special offers and upgrades at more than 900 hotels and resorts in the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection
- Emergency card replacement and emergency cash disbursement
- Extended warranty protection
- Lost and stolen card reporting
- Purchase security
- Roadside dispatch
- Travel accident insurance
PenFed Credit Union has received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau but isn’t rated in any J.D. Power satisfaction studies of credit card issuers.
If you want to contact customer service, you can do so through secure online messaging or by phone. That said, PenFed doesn’t provide 24/7 customer service access, which is a standard feature among major credit card issuers. You can manage your credit card account online or with the credit union’s mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android devices.
PenFed Credit Union offers FICO score access, which can be helpful as you work to build and maintain a strong credit history. This is also a common benefit among major credit card companies.
The credit union employs all the standard security measures you would expect from a credit card issuer. Additionally, you can use your card to make contactless payments where available. This technology uses the same security measures as your card’s EMV chip, but the process goes more quickly and doesn’t require you to swipe your card or insert it into the reader.
PenFed also offers a click-to-pay function when you’re shopping online with certain retailers. With click-to-pay, you can avoid entering your credit card number directly on the retailer’s website, which can prevent fraud if the merchant suffers a data breach.
The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card can be a great way to rack up cash-back rewards without having to keep track of differing rewards rates and bonus categories.
However, the card requires you to meet certain criteria to earn its maximum rewards rate. If you want that same rate, but without having to jump through a few hoops, there are alternatives available.