Even though you’ve probably seen hundreds of commercials for Discover, Citibank, Chase, Capital One, Bank of America and American Express, the best credit card issuer continues to be Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and their line of six — only six — credit cards, three of which we list below. PenFed is a credit union designed to focus on members of the military, but anyone can apply and be approved. The only requirement is that you be a member of the credit union, which can be obtained in a variety of ways, explained below.
Here is a quick review of three of the credit cards currently offered by PenFed.
PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa Card. This credit card is one of the kings of the cash back credit card world, the Plus version is offering 5 percent cash back on gasoline purchases paid at the pump. This 5 percent cash back on gasoline purchases is the largest reward offered today for this spending category and with no limits on the amount of rewards you can earn, this card easily finds its way into thousands of consumers’ wallets. If you opt for the Plus version of the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa Card there is no annual fee and no annual fee is rare these days considering the sweeping credit card reform. To qualify for the Plus version of the card you need to obtain a qualifying PenFed product like an active checking account with direct deposit ($250 min.) or a money market certificate. With the Standard version of the card you can earn 3 percent for gas purchases paid at the pump and there is an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year then the annual fee is $25. Fuel purchases for airplanes and boats do not receive cash back rewards for either the Plus Card or the Standard Card.
PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card. A top-notch travel rewards credit card, the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card offers 20,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 within the first three months of card ownership. Cardholders receive five points per dollar on airfare purchases and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Like all other PenFed credit cards, the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card carries no annual fee.
PenFed Promise VISA Card. For those not interested in rewards and more concerned about finding a low interest rate, the PenFed Promise VISA Card carries one of the lowest interest rates available today. First, the card offers an introductory purchase rate of 7.49% APR for 36 months. Following this introductory period, the purchase APR will vary with the Prime Rate, and is currently 9.99% APR, which is still low compared to other credit cards on the market today. Without a rewards program, the PenFed Promise VISA Card offers other perks. This card has no fees, so there is no cash advance fee, no foreign transaction fee, no balance transfer fee, no annual fee, no late fees and no over-limit fees.
PenFed is a credit union, and in order to be considered for approval for these cards, you must be a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed). It is important to note being a member of PenFed does not guarantee approval for a credit card, you must also meet the credit standards set forth by PenFed. Becoming a member is simple, and can be accomplished by meeting one of the following criteria:
- Members of the United States Military or Uniformed Services
- Employed by the US government
- Members of an eligible military association
- Family members of someone in the United States military
- Employees or volunteers of the American Red Cross
- Employees of a qualifying organization
- Residents of a military base
- One-time donation of $15 to Voices for America’s Troops
- One-time donation of $20 to the National Military Family Association
Although the Pentagon Federal Credit Union is designed for military members and employees of the U.S. government, it’s quite simple for anyone to join. The one-time donations are likely the easiest gateway for most people who aren’t eligible through the other requirements.
Updated March 23, 2014 and originally published April 1, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.