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 and manageable fees could help you get out of debt faster 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
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
Regular APR (%) 8.99% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee A 3% balance transfer fee applies to each transfer.
Intro Balance Transfer Fee This product does not offer an intro balance transfer fee.
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
for Fees
for Rewards
for Credit

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 or charge for cash advances. Even the late fees are more reasonable than on many cards.

While some cards initially won’t charge interest on your purchases, 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. 

  • Low interest rate

  • No cash advance fees

  • Sign-up bonus

  • No frills

  • Requires PenFed Credit Union membership

  • Balance transfer catch

Pros Explained

  • Low interest rate: This card has one of the lowest APRs available on the market today. (Your APR will be based on your creditworthiness, and the better your credit history, the closer you will get to the minimum 8.99%, variable.)
  • No cash advance fees: Many credit cards charge a fee and/or higher interest rates on cash advances. This card doesn’t do either, making it an especially good option if you don’t have any savings to fall back on and need emergency cash fast.
  • Sign-up bonus: If you spend at least $1,500 within the first 90 days after opening the card, you’ll get a $100 statement credit. 

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 anything by using the card beyond the $100 sign-up bonus. 
  • Requires PenFed Credit Union membership: While you no longer need any special affiliation to become a member, there is an extra step to take before applying for the card. You’ll need to open a savings account with at least $5. 
  • Balance transfer catch: While a balance transfer promotion may sound great, there’s an important catch. If you transfer a balance by March 31, 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.)

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

PenFed Gold Visa Card’s Sign-Up Bonus

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 sign-up 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 sign-up bonuses at all.

If you have 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 it for normal expenses you know you can pay off at the end of each month. 

PenFed Gold Visa Card’s 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

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. But if you think you see a fraudulent charge, you have access to a 24/7 fraud monitoring phone line. You can also manage your account from PenFed’s mobile app. 

Security Features

PenFed Credit Union employs standard safety features for this card, including $0 liability on unauthorized charges. 

PenFed Gold Visa Card’s Fees

Make sure you choose electronic statements. Otherwise, you'll pay a $1 monthly fee to receive hard copies in the mail.

Beyond that the PenFed Gold Visa Card is pretty reasonable when it comes to fees, charging no annual fee or cash advance fee and the same ongoing APR on all types of transactions (cash advances, balance transfers and purchases.) 

The late payment fees are also lower than on many other cards, at $10 if your balance is under $1,000, $20 if your balance is $1,000-$2,000, and $25 if your balance is more than that. It’s also worth noting that there are no foreign transaction fees.

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See how this card stacks up to the competition
PenFed Gold Visa® Card
overall rating
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
Regular APR (%) 8.99% - 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.