PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card Review

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The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card is a worthwhile credit card if you spend a lot on gas and groceries, and prefer to redeem your rewards for travel.

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Overall Rating
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® 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 (%) 13.49% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5x back at gas stations, 3x back on groceries, and 1x back on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
for Fees
for Rewards
for Credit
Current Offer

Earn 15,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days.

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Jet Setter Persona
    Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free See more cards
    Jet Setter
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
    Deal Seeker
  • Avatar for Road Warrior Persona
    Hits the road often, whether for work or play See more cards
    Road Warrior
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
    Adventure Seeker

If you’re on the road a lot or your vehicle is just a gas guzzler, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature is a worthy contender for anyone with excellent credit. The rewards-earning rate for gasoline purchases is impressive and you’ll get decent bonus points on your grocery spending too, which you can redeem for travel at an excellent rate compared to other cards with no annual fee.

  • Big rewards at the gas pump

  • Low APR

  • Low fees

  • PenFed Credit Union membership required

  • Redemption restrictions

  • Disappointing bonus for new cardholders

Pros Explained

  • Big rewards at the gas pump: If you drive a lot, take note. This card rewards gas purchases at 5 points per $1 spent—a higher rate than you’ll find on most competitors. (And unlike many of those cards, there’s no limit on what you can earn in a year.) You’ll also earn 3 points per $1 on groceries, including at military commissaries.
  • Low APR: While we don’t recommend carrying a balance on your credit card, if you have to, this is a good card to have. Even the highest variable interest rate offered is lower than the average APR for a travel rewards card.
  • Low fees: This card doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fee, which means you can avoid fees completely, depending on how you use the card. It also lacks a cash advance fee, and even its late fees are more reasonable than other travel rewards cards (up to $28, depending on your balance).

Cons Explained

  • PenFed Credit Union membership required: While anyone (military or not) can become a member of PenFed, having to belong to the credit union does add an extra step in the application process. You’ll have to open a savings account and keep at least $5 in it to have the card.
  • Redemption restrictions: If you want cash or a statement credit for your rewards, you should look for a different card. The redemption options are limited to travel, gift cards, and merchandise, and you won’t get much more information until you get the card. (There’s an online redemption center, but you have to log in to your account to browse the options.)
  • Disappointing bonus for new cardholders: The combination of a hefty spending requirement and a paltry points payoff make this deal a dud.

Bonus for New Cardholders 

New cardholders will earn a 15,000 points when they spend $1,500 during the first 90 days they have the card. This is relatively less than you’d get with most comparable rewards cards, and the spending requirement is sky high compared to competitors’ deals. 

Earning Points & Rewards

You’ll earn 5 points for every $1 you spend on gas, 3 points for every $1 at supermarkets (including military commissaries), and 1 point for every $1 on everything else. The gas rewards are particularly good relative to other cards, and even the 3 points per $1 at supermarkets is competitive. Points expire five years from the end of the month in which you earned them.

While there’s no limit on the points you can earn, gas for airplanes and boats only earns 1 point per $1 rather than 5.

Conveniently, PenFed also offers a points calculator that figures out how much you’ll earn based on estimates of your monthly gas and grocery budget (and whatever falls into the “everything else” category.)

Redeeming Rewards

PenFed doesn’t make the process of redeeming rewards very transparent. Here’s what we know: You must have at least 1,000 points to redeem rewards and you can’t get cash back or a credit on your statement. You do, however, have several options:

  • Gift cards and certificates
  • Merchandise
  • Hotels, airfare, car rentals and vacation tours and packages

You won’t be able to browse your redemption options online until you have an account, but according to a PenFed spokesperson, points used for travel have the highest average value, at 1.7 cents each. Points redeemed for gift cards and merchandise, by contrast, are worth just 0.85 cents each.

As a general rule of thumb, points or miles worth more than 1 cent each are a good deal, and 1.7 cents is particularly good for this kind of card.

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

You’ll build up your points balance quickly by using this card exclusively for bonus categories. Use it whenever you’re at the gas pump, for sure. You should also stick to true supermarkets when buying food, since groceries at superstores and warehouse clubs don’t qualify for the bonus points.

If you use the card to transfer a balance at the promotional rate, avoid using it for any new purchases until you’ve paid off the entire transferred balance. Otherwise, your new purchases will accrue interest, offsetting the value of the rewards you’ve earned.

You’ll lose the normal grace period on new purchases if you participate in the balance transfer promotion. That means even if you pay your new purchases off as soon as you get your bill, they’ll be charged interest from the purchase date. (This is a problem on many cards that don’t have a simultaneous promotion on the purchase APR.)

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature’s Excellent Perks 

Credit cards often come with a variety of perks and benefits, so we’ve narrowed down the ones we think have an exceptional value. The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature has one that makes the cut:

  • Travel accident insurance: If you use your card to cover the cost of a trip, this accidental death and dismemberment coverage benefit may apply if there’s an incident while you’re traveling. The benefit is as high as $250,000 and covers you, your spouse, and unmarried dependents. 

Other Features 

  • Extended warranties
  • Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Roadside assistance hotline
  • Travel and emergency hotline
  • Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services

Customer Experience

The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card doesn’t have any standout customer service features like online chat capabilities. However, cardholders can use the PenFed mobile app to manage all accounts with the credit union.

Security Features 

The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature has industry-standard security features.

Fees That Stand Out

The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card is quite reasonable about fees. It doesn’t charge an annual fee or a fee on foreign transactions. There is also no cash advance fee and the APR on cash advances is relatively low. Even the late fees aren’t too bad when compared to other rewards cards.

Next Steps
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PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® 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 (%) 13.49% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5x back at gas stations, 3x back on groceries, and 1x back on all other purchases.
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.