PenFed Gold Visa® Card review

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Garrett Yarbrough  in  Low Interest How we rate our cards  | 

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Pentagon FCU Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Pentagon FCU's secure website

Best for low variable APR

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
7.49% - 17.99% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Bankrate Rating

 

Best low-interest card for Pentagon Federal Credit Union members

  • Rewards rate: N/A
  • Welcome offer: $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 on purchases within the first 90 days
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer promotional APR: 0 percent for 12 months (made between now and September 30, 2021)
  • Regular APR: 7.49 percent to 17.99 percent variable

Although we recommend keeping your credit card balance as low as possible (preferably at zero), if you know you’ll need to carry a balance here and there, the PenFed Gold Visa® Card should be at the top of your list.

Its rock-bottom fees and APR, plus a 12-month 0 percent promotional balance transfer APR (3 percent balance transfer fee, 17.99 percent APR ongoing), make it a great balance transfer card and one of the best credit cards for military members with big purchases on the horizon.

And since anyone can join the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, these amazing rates and fees make it one of the best low-interest credit cards available to the general public as well.

Current sign-up bonus

After spending $1,500 on purchases within your first 90 days, you’ll earn a $100 statement credit.

This should be easy to reach if you have upcoming expenses, but the spending requirement is a bit high for the payout. Other no annual fee credit cards typically require spending $500 to $1,000 in the same time frame for a $150 to $200 bonus. Regardless, this sign-up bonus can be a valuable first step toward settling costs with your new card.

Rewards

Unfortunately, the PenFed Gold Visa doesn’t earn rewards. If you plan to carry a balance, that’s not much of an issue, since even the lowest interest rates will eat the lion’s share of any rewards you’d earn.

Several cards focused on balance transfers don’t offer ongoing rewards, such as the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, but many rewards cards with slightly higher APRs offer longer zero-interest offers on both purchases and balance transfers.

Benefits

This card’s selection of benefits is very limited outside standard Visa security features like 24/7 fraud monitoring, $0 liability for unauthorized purchases, digital wallet compatibility and secure remote commerce (SRC), aka Click to Pay.

These benefits are great for making digital transactions safer and easier, but your main perks come from being a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union perks

PenFed is one of our top-rated credit unions and backs that up with a variety of member-exclusive benefits.

You can receive discounts on a vast range of services, including auto rental and protection, tax filing, college fund planning, home insurance and security, health benefits and even online math tutoring.

Plus, you have access to PenFed’s Advice Center and Financial Hardship Center to assist you with your finances. Members of the military preparing for deployment can take advantage PenFed’s handy Deployment Guide to ease the pre- and post-transition arrangements.

Visa Traditional card benefits

As a standard Visa Traditional card, you’ll have access to Visa’s basic perks like auto rental collision damage coverage, 24/7 roadside dispatch and travel accident insurance.

Rates and fees

The PenFed Gold Visa card’s bread and butter is its incredibly low rates and fees. You won’t have to worry about an annual fee or even foreign transaction fees in case you travel with the military. Even the up to $28 late payment fee and up to $25 returned payment fee are lower than average (usually up to $40).

The 7.49 percent to 17.99 percent (variable) APR is one of the best interest rates you’ll find. The upper end of this range is just above the current average APR, even without the best credit.

Plus, if you’re looking to chip away at an existing balance, the PenFed Gold Visa’s 12-month 0 percent promotional balance transfer APR (3 percent balance transfer fee) will keep interest at bay for your entire first year (17.99 percent APR thereafter). Just keep in mind the intro APR does not apply to new purchases.

How the PenFed Gold Visa compares to other low-interest cards

As far as low ongoing interest rates go, the PenFed Gold Visa card is hard to beat. PenFed’s other credit cards—like the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card —offer rewards and extra benefits, but the interest rates aren’t as competitive as the Gold Visa.

However, it might take a few hoops to join PenFed if you haven’t served the military or the federal government as an employee, or if you don’t have a family connection. You’ll need to join an eligible partner association otherwise, such as the Voices for America’s Troops advocacy organization. If you’re not looking to join PenFed or a credit union, Discover credit cards also typically offer rewards and cash back for a low cost.

Zero-interest credit cards like the Citi Diamond Preferred are also fantastic options if you want to avoid interest for as long as possible. But without rewards and more benefits, the Citi Diamond Preferred card’s ongoing value might be as limited as the PenFed Gold Visa’s.

Card Rewards rate Annual fee Welcome bonus
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
  • Unlimited 2% cash back for current/former military members or with an Access America checking account
  • (1.5% otherwise)
$0
  • $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 on purchases within the first 90 days
  • 12-month 0% intro balance transfer APR made between now and September 30, 2021.  (17.99% ongoing)
Discover it® Cash Back
  • 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1%, upon activation)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
$0
  • All cash back earned in the first 12 months will be matched
  • 14-month intro 0% purchase and balance transfer APR (11.99% to 22.99% variable ongoing)
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card N/A $0
  • 18-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers (completed within the first four months) and purchases (14.74% to 24.74% variable ongoing)

Best cards to pair the PenFed Gold Visa with

PenFed’s rewards cards would gel nicely with the Gold Visa, but really any rewards credit card would pair well. Just keep in mind that if you carry a balance, you could lose the bulk of any rewards you earn to interest payments.

Depending on your spending and location, you might want to consider different reward styles. If you’re currently deployed abroad or you travel often, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an excellent choice. Meanwhile, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is perfect for at-home expenses. If your purchases don’t fall within typical bonus categories, you can’t go wrong with a flat-rate cash back card like the Citi® Double Cash Card.

Bankrate’s take—Is the PenFed Gold Visa worth it?

Whether you’ve served with the military or not, the PenFed Gold Visa Credit Card is certainly worth considering if you know you may carry a balance from time to time. Its low rates and fees make it a fantastic opportunity to save money on interest, even if you have less than stellar credit.

However, the PenFed Gold Visa carries few additional benefits and doesn’t offer ongoing rewards or a zero-interest purchase offer. These missing card features might make other cards with slightly higher APRs worth it.

Pros

  • Some of the lowest credit card rates and fees available
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees
  • 12-month 0 percent promotional balance transfer APR (17.99 percent ongoing, intro 3 percent balance transfer fee, see terms)
  • Nongovernment employee civilians are also eligible for this card and PenFed membership by joining one of 50-plus affiliated advocacy groups

Cons

  • Must be a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union to apply
  • No ongoing rewards
  • Minimal card benefits and features