PenFed Gold Visa Card Review

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If you carry a balance from month to month, the PenFed Gold Visa Card may be one of your best options. This card’s low interest rate could help you pay down lingering balances faster (and more affordably) than other credit cards. You’ll need to be a member of PenFed Credit Union in order to qualify, but anyone can now join, even if they’re not part of the military—its core constituency.

PenFed Gold Visa® Card

Overall Rating
2.9
PenFed Gold Visa® Card
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 (%) 7.49% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee A 3% balance transfer fee applies to each transfer.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 12 Months
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
2.3
for Fees
3.5
for Rewards
2.3
for Credit
2.2
Current Offer

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

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Debt Warrior Persona
    Attacks existing balances while avoiding new debt See more cards
    Debt Warrior
  • Avatar for Credit Builder Persona
    Takes improving their finances seriously and wants recognition for using credit responsibly See more cards
    Credit Builder

The PenFed Gold Visa Card is best for people with excellent credit who carry a balance or just want an affordable backup line of credit for emergencies. This card has a low ongoing interest rate (comparable to a personal loan), and there is no annual fee, so you can keep it open year after year for no additional cost. Even the late fees are more reasonable than on many cards.

While some cards initially won’t charge interest on your purchases, those promotional rates are short-lived and only help if you can plan ahead. If you have an unexpected situation you haven’t saved for, the PenFed Gold Visa Card can be a great substitute.

Pros
  • Very low interest rate for eligible card holders

  • No cash advance fees

  • Decent bonus

Cons
  • No frills

  • Requires PenFed Credit Union membership

  • Balance transfer catch

Pros Explained

  • Very low interest rate for eligible card holders: This card has one of the lowest APRs available on the market today. (Your APR will be based on your creditworthiness and membership history, and the better your credit history, the closer you will get to the minimum 7.49%.) On the high end, 17.99% is still a comparatively low rate for a credit card, but carrying a balance at that rate will still rack up hefty interest charges.
  • No cash advance fees: Many credit cards charge a fee and/or much higher interest rates on cash advances. This card doesn’t charge a cash advance fee, and the 17.99% cash advance APR is below average, according to The Balance research. If you don’t have any savings to fall back on and need emergency cash fast, this card is a decent back-up option. However, just note that cash advances made with this card aren’t free. Unlike purchases, cash advances accrue interest from the transaction date. There’s no grace period.
  • Decent Bonus: You’ll get a $100 statement credit if you spend at least $1,500 within the first 90 days after opening the card. Most cards that target balance-transfer and low-interest rate customers don’t offer a bonus at all.

Cons Explained

  • No frills: Since this card’s primary benefit is its low interest rate, there are no ongoing rewards and very few perks. You can’t earn points, miles, or money beyond the $100 bonus for new cardholders. 
  • Requires PenFed Credit Union membership: Although PenFed is short for Pentagon Federal Credit Union and serves Department of Defense employees among others, you don’t need any special affiliation to become a member. But here is an extra step to take before applying for the card. You’ll need to open a savings account with at least $5. As well, your interest rate may be determined by how long you’ve been a PenFed member, along with your creditworthiness. 
  • Balance transfer catch: While a balance transfer promotion may sound great, there’s an important catch. If you transfer a balance by September 30, 2020, you won’t be charged any interest for 12 months (just a 3% balance transfer fee.) But, you’ll also have to forgo the grace period on new purchases, meaning you’ll be charged interest on those purchases immediately, even before you get your bill. (This is the case with many balance transfer cards that don’t also offer an introductory APR on purchases.)

Bonus for New Cardholders

If you spend at least $1,500 within your first 90 days, PenFed Credit Union will credit $100 to your statement. This isn’t a huge bonus when compared to those available on many rewards cards, but it’s notable in the world of low-interest credit cards. Most of those don’t offer any welcome bonuses at all. 

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

If you want to take advantage of the promotional balance transfer APR offer but avoid paying interest on new purchases, don’t use your card until you’ve paid off your transferred debt balance. Otherwise, finance charges from any new use will erase some of your savings from the balance transfer promotion.   

If you have good to excellent credit, consider opening a rewards card alongside the PenFed Gold Visa Card. It’s likely to have a higher interest rate, so just use the rewards card for normal expenses you know you can pay off at the end of each month. 

Excellent Perks

Credit cards often come with extra perks, but only some qualify as “excellent” by our editors’ standards. For the PenFed Gold Visa Card, there’s only one in this category: 

Travel accident insurance: Should you have an accident or die while traveling on an airplane, train, or boat, this provides up to $100,000 worth of coverage if your trip was paid for with your card

Other Features

  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Roadside assistance hotline

Customer Experience

The PenFed Gold Visa Card doesn’t offer the flashy customer service features that some of the bigger-name credit card issuers do such as free credit scores or credit report monitoring. However, PenFed does offer 24/7 assistance if you need to report your card lost or stolen, and require emergency card replacement and emergency cash. 

You can manage your account from PenFed’s mobile app, and the card comes with a tap-to-pay feature. 

Security Features

PenFed Credit Union employs standard safety features for this card, including $0 liability on unauthorized charges. If you think you see a fraudulent charge, you have access to a 24/7 fraud monitoring phone line.

Fees

The PenFed Gold Visa Card is pretty reasonable when it comes to fees. There’s no annual fee, cash advance fee, or foreign transaction fee. The late payment fees are lower than many other standard cards, at $20 if your balance is under $1,000, $25 if your balance is $1,000-$2,000, and $28 if your balance is more than that.

The same ongoing APR of 17.99% is applicable for cash advances, penalty APR, and balance transfers (after the 0% introductory period on balance transfers ends).

Make sure you opt into electronic statements or you’ll pay a $1 monthly fee to receive hard copies in the mail.

Next Steps
For PenFed Gold Visa® Card
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CURRENT CARD
PenFed Gold Visa® Card
overall rating
2.9
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 (%) 7.49% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee A 3% balance transfer fee applies to each transfer.
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. PenFed Credit Union. "PenFed Gold Visa Card Summary of Terms." Accessed July 10, 2020.

  2. PenFed Credit Union. "Cardholder Agreement." Accessed July 10, 2020.

  3. PenFed Credit Union. "PenFed Gold Visa Card." Accessed July 10, 2020.

  4. PenFed Credit Union. "PenFed Visa Benefits Guide." Accessed July 10, 2020.

  5. PenFed Credit Union. "Pricing List and Cardholder Agreement." Accessed July 10, 2020.