Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card Review

overall rating
4.4

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For credit card users who prefer a simple, flat rewards rate to a complex, tiered rewards structure, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature Card could feel like a breath of fresh air. And if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member, you’ll earn one of the best cash-back rewards rates available.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Overall Rating
4.4
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
On PenFed Credit Union's Secured Site.
Current Offer

$100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.99% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases made with your card, and 2% total cash back for PenFed Honors Advantage Members.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 12 Months
Balance Transfer Fee A 3% balance transfer fee applies to each transfer.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

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

Pros
  • The chance for a high, flat rewards rate

  • Decent balance transfer savings

  • Light on fees

Cons
  • Relatively low introductory bonus

  • Requires a relationship to maximize rewards

  • No introductory 0% APR on purchases

Pros Explained

  • 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.

Cons Explained

  • 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. 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

  • Avatar for Cash Back Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
    Cash Back Strategist
  • Avatar for Minimalist Persona
    Prefers uncomplicated rewards with single rate for all spending
    Minimalist
  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse

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

Standard Benefits

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Emergency card replacement and emergency cash disbursement
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Lost and stolen card reporting
  • Purchase security
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Travel accident insurance

Cardholder Experience

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.

Security Features

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.

Our Verdict

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.

Apply Now
For PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
on PenFed Credit Union's Secured Site.
Compare This Card
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CURRENT CARD
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
overall rating
4.4
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.99% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases made with your card, and 2% total cash back for PenFed Honors Advantage Members.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.