Pentagon Federal Credit Union built itself into one of the country's largest nonprofit lenders by helping military families and the citizens who support them. With a mandate to pursue member benefits instead of shareholder profits, PenFed can afford to experiment with some unusual products, like this cash back credit card that acts more like a gas rebate card.
While other cash back card issuers battle for supremacy, the PenFed Visa Platinum Cash Rewards Card Plus version offers a wild, offer of 5 percent rebate whenever you pay for gas at the pump. With the Plus version of this Card you will need to have or open a qualifying PenFed product for example a checking account with direct deposit ($250 min.) or a money market certificate. The Plus Card carries no annual fee. While the Standard Card offers 3 percent cash back on gas purchases paid at the pump and has an introductory annual fee of $0, then a $25 annual fee. Fuel purchases for airplanes and boats do not receive cash back rewards with either the Plus Standard version of this card.
Best gas credit card, despite the name
Normally, a 5 percent rebate ties you to a brand-specific gas credit card that can cost you more money than you save. We hear plenty of anecdotes about readers who have to drive past two or three competing gas stations, often advertising lower prices, just to get to a pump that accepts their card.
Not so with this cash back card, good anywhere Visa's accepted. Just pay at the pump with your Plus Card to get your 5 percent rebate on gas purchases, regardless of the brand you see on the sign. Instead of waiting for an annual rebate check, or redeeming rewards points, you only have to watch your monthly statement to see your rebate applied automatically to your balance.
Watch for special balance transfer offers and signup bonuses
Pentagon Federal has learned how to get attention without a huge advertising budget. Every few months, the credit union floats a special signup bonus for new members. For instance, over the past few years we've tracked this card, we've seen PenFed offer it with a low introductory rate, with zero-balance transfer fees, and with bonus cash rewards of up to $250. Promotions change often, so compare credit card reviews with the latest deals posted on PenFed's website.
Like other credit unions and regional banks that have made waves on the national credit card market, PenFed remains choosy about selecting new members. First, you must join Pentagon Federal with a "share account," a credit union's version of a savings account with a small opening deposit. If you're not an active-duty service person, a veteran, or the relative of a soldier, you can still join PenFed by paying a one-time fee to an approved organization. Once you're in, you'll need an excellent credit history to help you qualify for this card.
How this card compares to other cash back rewards cards.
For purchasing categories other than gas, it's hardly a fair fight.
For instance, Chase Freedom offers a 1 percent rebate, while including gas purchases as one of its rotating up to 5 percent rebate categories subject to enrollment and quarterly maximum spend.
Highlights: PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa® Card
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- Plus Card: 5% cash back on gas paid at the pump with a qualifying PenFed product*
- Plus Card: No annual fee
- Standard Card: 3% cash back on gas purchases paid at the pump
- Standard Card: $0 First Year, then $25 Annual Fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- Automatic cash back every month
- No limit to cash reward earnings
- * PenFed qualifying products include: An active checking account with direct deposit ($250 min.); a money market certificate or IRA certificate; a mortgage; an installment loan (auto loans, boat loans, motorcycle loans, travel trailer loans, personal and educational loans); an equity loan or equity line of credit with a balance; thrifty credit service, personal line of credit, education line of credit, money market savings accounts.
promotional balance transfer rate on transfers made from October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013 for the life of balance
3% ($10 min. - $250 max.)