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PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card Review

With the opportunity to earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, the Penfed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card is a welcome addition to the flat-rate cash-back rewards landscape. Plus, you can take advantage of 12 months of zero interest on balance transfers and the chance to earn bonus cash-back.

 CardRatings Senior Manager  | Updated

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PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
Our Rating:   
Excellent
on PenFed Credit Union's secure website

CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons

  • You can earn up to 2% cash back on every purchase if you are a member of the Penfed Honors Advantage Program. If you aren't, you'll still earn a nice 1.5% back.
  • With no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees to offset, all your rewards can go directly back to your pocket.
  • Earn a $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 within the first 90 days.
  • If you tend to spend disproportionately in particular categories such as groceries or gas, you could likely stand to earn more cash back with a card that features tiered or rotating rewards for those categories.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card Essentials

Flat-rate cash-back rewards credit cards offer you a ton of convenience and simplicity, but not always the best possible cash-back rate. The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card, however, takes a step in the right direction by upping the amount you can earn over that offered by several existing heavy hitters in the flat-rate rewards field.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card cardholders earn 1.5%cash back on all their purchases – a pretty standard rate across the flat-rate cash-back rewards board. But you can earn up to 2% cash back on all your purchases if you qualify for the Penfed Honors Advantage Program – and it's fairly easy to do so. You qualify by either having a PenFed Access America Checking Account (yes, you can open a new account in order to qualify for the program) or if the primary or joint applicant is in active military service, the National Guard, the Reserves, has been honorably discharged or is a veteran. Plus, you can earn a $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 within the first 90 days of card membership.

Suddenly, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card stacks up nicely against some of the more well-established flat-rate cards like Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Here are some key features of the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card:

  • Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases; up the earn rate to 2% on all purchases as a member of the Penfed Honors Advantage Program.
  • Earn a $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 within the first 90 days.
  • 0% APR on balance transfers made by March 31, 2021, for the first 12 months (then, 17.99% non-variable APR). If you take advantage of this balance transfer, you will immediately be charged interest on all purchases made with your credit card unless you pay the entire account balance, including balance transfers, in full each month by the payment due date.
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees.

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union is, as the name suggests, a credit union so you need to be a member to take advantage of the products and services (including the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card). It's fairly simply to qualify, however. Current or former members of the military, U.S. government employees, employees of certain organizations, membership in particular organizations or associations and more categories are eligible. In fact, anyone can join simply by becoming a dues paying member of Voices for America's Troops or the National Military Family Association, both of which currently require modest one-time, non-refundable dues. Pay your dues and you're eligible for Penfed membership.

Top Features

 Cash Back on Gas
1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases. Earn 2% cash back through the PenFed Honors Advantage program
 Cash Back on Groceries
1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases. Earn 2% cash back through the PenFed Honors Advantage program
 Cash Back on Other
1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases. Earn 2% cash back through the PenFed Honors Advantage program

What Our Editors Like Most About the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

In a word, it's the simplicity that attracts us to flat-rate cash back cards. Sure, there are ways to earn greater amounts of cash back, but you have to be willing to keep up with rotating or at least tiered reward structures. If you just want to use your card and know you're earning solid cash back whether you're at the gas station or buying tickets to a summer concert, than a flat-rate card like the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card is right for you.

In the case of the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card, the possible earn rate is greater than with some other flat-rate cards. Two percent is a not-too-shabby amount of cash back to rake in every time you use your card. While the 1.5% basic rate is fine, there's really no reason not to do what it takes to qualify for the Penfed Honors Advantage Program since you can do so with only a checking account.

"PenFed has certainly raised the bar with their new cash-back card," said Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings and a consumer credit card educator and advocate. "They have leaped overnight from a good cash back card to a best-of-breed category, particularly for members of the military and PenFed banking customers. The 2% earn rate, coupled with the reputation of PenFed, makes their new card a very compelling offer."

In addition to its solid cash-back opportunities, this could be a good card for you if you already have some credit card debt you're looking to spend a few extra months paying off interest free. New cardholders have 12 months of no APR on balance transfers, so be sure to take advantage of that money-saving option if you need it.

Lastly, there's no annual fee or foreign transaction fees to contend with, so you can carry this card in your wallet for a rainy day or for that trip overseas.

Potential Downsides of the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Even if you're earning the 2% back on all your purchases, you could be missing out on even higher rewards if you are the kind of person who can keep up with rotating categories or tiered rewards. In particular, if you know you spend disproportionately on, say, groceries, there are cards out there that will reward you handsomely for that spending (to the tune of 5 or 6% cash back, actually).

One other consideration is that you will pay a 3% fee for each balance transfer, even during that introductory 0% period. Sure, you could still stand to save money in the long haul since you won't be paying interest during the intro period, but there are cards available that offer 0% intro periods without a balance transfer fee.

How the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card Compares to Other Cash-Back Cards

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card vs. Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is a no-annual-fee, tiered-rewards, cash-back card. That means that you stand to earn more cash back if you spend within the higher tier categories. Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card members can take advantage of a new offer to maximize cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings. Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the mobile banking app or online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same.

With that in mind, PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card members who take advantage of the Penfed Honors Advantage Program might be able to earn more cash back in the long run since they earn an unlimited 2% back on all their purchases.

That said, Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card also offers a $200 online cash-back bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening (a lower threshold for the bonus than with the Penfed card).

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card vs. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

If you're not a member of the Penfed Honors Advantage Program, at first glance, not much seems different between the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card and the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card (). Neither has an annual fee, both earn unlimited 1.5% on all purchases (or 1.8% with Wells Fargo for the first year when making purchases with a qualified digital wallet), and both have a new member sign up bonus (though the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card's is a bit more at $150).

Perhaps the most notable differences between the two cards are 1) the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card does not have foreign transaction fees, whereas the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card does; and 2) the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card includes up to $600 annually in cell phone protection, a nice perk for anyone worried about something happening to their phone.

Who Should Get This Card?

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card is an excellent option for the person wanting to earn cash back, but who doesn't have a particular interest in keeping up with rotating categories or caps on the earning. If you decide this is the card for you and you aren't military, seriously consider opening a Penfed checking account in order to  take advantage of the bonus cash-back earning rate.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card Compared to Other Cash back Cards

Apply online for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Apply online for Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Apply online for Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
Cash Back on Gas
1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases. Earn 2% cash back through the PenFed Honors Advantage program 
Cash Back on Gas
3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 
Cash Back on Gas
1.5% 
Cash Back on Gas
1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay 
Cash Back on Gas
1.5% 
Cash Back on Groceries
1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases. Earn 2% cash back through the PenFed Honors Advantage program 
Cash Back on Groceries
6% at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) 
Cash Back on Groceries
5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target(R) or Walmart(R) purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. 
Cash Back on Groceries
1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay 
Cash Back on Groceries
1.5% 
Cash Back on other
1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases. Earn 2% cash back through the PenFed Honors Advantage program 
Cash Back on other
1% cash back on other purchases 
Cash Back on other
1.5% 
Cash Back on other
1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay 
Cash Back on other
1.5% 

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