PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card: Earn Top Rewards on Gas, Dining and Groceries

If you spend a lot of money traveling from place to place, the Visa Signature® PenFed Platinum Rewards* Card can make the journey even more rewarding. This card offers 5x points for petrol at gas stations and electric vehicle filling stations.

5x payouts go head-to-head with some best gas credit card — and your earning potential is not limited to your time behind the wheel. You’ll also get 3x the points from everything you eat; bonus payments apply to supermarkets — including most Target and Walmart locations — and restaurants. Plus, you’ll earn 3x your points on TV, cable, radio, and streaming services. All other purchases qualify for 1x points per dollar spent.

Other notable perks include a welcome bonus offer of 15,000 points after spending $1,500 in the first 90 days and an introductory 12 months 0% APR on balance transfers (then 17.99% APR). All of these advantages come with a price tag worth celebrating: The card has no annual fees and you won’t pay foreign transaction fees if you travel outside the US.

There’s one catch: To apply for this card, you must also be a member of the PenFed Credit Union. Signing up is simple, though. Membership is open to everyone, and to get started, you need to deposit $5 into your new PenFed bank account. It should be noted that PenFed offers several of these best CD rates available, free checking accounts and other tools can be a perfect match if you need a new place to store your money. But if you’re not interested in setting up a new bank account, there are other rewards credit cards with wider redemption options and clearer points ratings to consider.

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Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Introductory Offer15,000 Bonus Points when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days

APR17.99% Variable

Introduction to APR PurchasesN/A

Recommended Credit Great, Great

Prize Rates

  • 5x Points for gas paid at EV pumps and filling stations
  • 3x Points at supermarkets (including most Target and Walmart locations), restaurants, and TV, radio, cable, streaming services
  • 1x Points for all other purchases

Annual fee$0

Introduction to APR Balance TransferCredit Transfer Promo 0% APR for 12 months

Balance Transfer APR17.99%

Balance Transfer Fee A 3% fee applies for each transfer

APR penalty See Requirements

  • 5x Points for gas paid at EV pumps and filling stations
  • 3x Points at supermarkets (including most Target and Walmart locations), restaurants, and TV, radio, cable, streaming services
  • 1x Points for all other purchases


PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature provides the greatest reward for an activity you might do every day — driving. You’ll get 5x the points for the gas you pay for at the gas station — don’t pay inside the station if you want to make sure you get extra points. If you drive an electric vehicle, you’re also eligible to earn 5x points towards purchasing EV charging stations.

This is also a great card to have when buying groceries at the grocery store or eating at restaurants, as you’ll get 3x the points for each card. This payout structure puts PenFed Platinum in the same category as either one best restaurant credit card: Visa Signature® Bank Altitude® Go US Card, which earns 4x points for food and restaurant delivery but less payout at gas stations (2x points).

You’ll also earn 3x the points in the following categories with a PenFed card: cable, TV, radio, and streaming services. All other purchases qualify for 1x points per dollar.

While the 5x and 3x bonus categories seem worthy of headlines, there is a big question mark around the value of points with these cards. CNET reached out to PenFed to get a points rating for this card, but so far haven’t had a response. The program’s terms and conditions fail to spell out cash equivalent valuations. And, without the option to convert your points into cash back, it’s hard to estimate the true value of this card.

Gift exchange

When you accumulate points with PenFed Platinum Rewards, you’ll have a variety of ways to cash them out — book trips, get gift cards from various merchants, shop at credit union rewards portals, use them at an Apple Store or donate them to charity. However, the lack of simple and immediate cash-back redemption is a big downside for this card. Some cardholders prefer the convenience of a credit statement or cash deposit into their bank account. If that’s you, this card isn’t the right choice. you are better off with a cash back credit card instead.

Welcome bonus

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature comes with a welcome bonus offer: Spend $1,500 in the first 90 days, and you’ll get 15,000 bonus points in your account. While it’s great to see a no annual fee card come with extra benefits, this offer pales in comparison The best sign-up bonus available today. For example, cardholders who open Pursue Freedom Flex℠* can score a $200 bonus when they spend $500 in the first three months. If you are willing to wait a little longer, the Discover it® Cash Back* also offers a potentially lucrative year-end paycheck by matching your full cash back from the first year you earn rewards.

Introductory balance transfer APR

If you’re carrying a sizable debt discount on another credit card, PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature’s introductory balance transfer offer can make a significant difference in managing your money. You must make the transfer within the first 90 days of opening the card and pay a 3% balance transfer fee (standard fee among top balance transfer cards) to lock in an introductory 0% APR for 12 months (then 17.99% APR). However, if you’re thinking about taking advantage of this offer, you’ll need to have a solid strategy in place to pay off that debt in full within a 12 month period.

Privileges and other features

Since this card is part of the Visa Signature range, you will get some extra features that may be useful in certain situations. When you travel, you can receive free breakfast and room upgrades at hotels (where available) that are part of the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection. The collection includes more than 900 properties such as The Pierre in New York, Shangri-La in Vancouver and St. Register in Bali. Plus, you’ll have access to a Visa Signature Concierge to help organize your plans wherever you go.

Plus, you get purchase security for certain items you buy using the card. For example, if you bought an iPad that was stolen, you may be able to get a replacement. There are certain caveats that apply to secure purchases, so this isn’t a reason to get this card in itself.

Alternative card

Citi Custom Cash Card℠

That Citi Custom Cash Card adapts to your spending habits to give you 5% cash back on the first $500 of purchases each billing cycle (then 1%) in the highest qualifying spend category. So, for example, if you spend $500 on gas stations in May and $500 in June, you can get $25 in cash back each billing cycle. While the $500 per billing cycle limit is a drawback, it can still add up to $300 in cash back each year. Plus, you’ll get the standard 1% cashback on all your other purchases.

Custom Cash Cards also have a $200 welcome bonus if you spend $1,500 on the card within the first six months after you open it (meets as 20,000 Thank You points that can be redeemed for $200 cash back) — a very accessible spending threshold. And like PenFed cards, there are no annual fees. However, if you plan to travel outside the US, a PenFed card may be a better choice: The Citi Custom Cash card has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

If you’re interested in gas and restaurant giveaways and also like shopping at Costco, the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi* probably worth the $60 annual Costco membership fee. The card has similar bonus categories to the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card: 4% cash back on qualifying fuel and EV purchases up to $7,000 per year (then 1%), 3% cash back on qualified restaurant and travel expenses terms, 2% cash back on purchases at Costco and on and 1% cash back on everything else.

While the 4% cash back on fuel is noticeably lower than the 5x point payout with a PenFed card, the ability to exchange these rewards for cash back is nice, and the $7,000 maximum isn’t too much of a concern unless you drive significantly more than the average American. Plus, since PenFed card reward ratings are so opaque, it’s hard to say whether 5x points are better than 4% cash back in this case.

The main drawback of Costco Anywhere Visa compared to PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature is the lack of a welcome bonus.


When does a balance transfer offer make sense?

If you carry a large balance on another credit card, transferring that balance to a new card with an initial 0% APR offer can save interest. However, you need to understand that balance transfers are usually not free — most cards charge 3% of the amount you transfer. So if you transfer a balance of $10,000, you’ll pay $300 up front. However, the cash is worth it, if you move balances from high APR cards.

The best balance transfer credit cards offer an initial APR period of 21 months, giving you more time to pay off your debt.

How much are credit card rewards points worth?

In most industries, points are generally worth 1 cent each when you convert them to cash back. However, the scoring of points ultimately depends on your card, your loyalty program and your plans to redeem them. With some credit card programs, you can get the best return on cashing in points by transferring them to the airline to reserve a business class seat.

Credit card issuers offer welcome bonuses to attract new customers. For example, a card might promise 20,000 points to new customers in exchange for spending a certain amount of money within a limited time. The issuer wants to make it a habit for you to use the card every time you make a purchase. It’s important to know that a few hundred dollar welcome bonus sounds appealing, but you should still be diligent about paying off your balance in full each month. If you do end up carrying a balance, you simply return the bonus to the credit card company via your monthly finance fee.

*All information regarding the Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card, Chase Freedom Flex, Discover it Cash Back, and Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi was independently collected by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective and independent judgment of our authors and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

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