PenFed’s new card pays 2% cash back


Ronald Sumners/

Ronald Sumners/

The nation’s third-largest credit union has just unveiled a credit card that pays 2 percent cash back on all purchases, and charges no annual fee.

If you don’t mind the legwork, Pentagon Federal Credit Union’s offer is a decent one.

CARD SEARCH: Going on vacation? Take a card that charges no foreign transaction fee.

To qualify for the Power Cash Rewards Visa card, you’ll have to become a member of this credit union. Membership is open to military personnel and their families, but anyone can join by first joining one of two non-profit groups, Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association. A one-time $17 fee applies.

Members must open a savings account with a $5 minimum deposit. That’s enough to earn you 1.5 percent cash back on purchases with your Power Cash card. Earn another 0.50 percent by either opening a PenFed checking account or by meeting the bank’s military service criteria.

Other features include:

  • A $100 sign-up bonus if you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days of card ownership.
  • 12 month zero-percent interest on balance transfers.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • A variable APR of 9.24 to 17.99 percent based on creditworthiness.

How the card stacks up

You can compare Power Cash rewards program with likes of the Citi Double Cash card and the Discover Cashback Match, the only other programs offering 2-for-1 rewards on everyday spending.

The Double Cash card pays 1 percent back on purchases and then another 1 percent back as you pay your bill. Both have the same balance transfer fee of 3 percent, but the Citi Double Cash card has a longer 18 months interest-free. The Citi Double has a variable APR of 13.49 to 23.49 percent, so for those who qualify for lower interest rates, it’s hard to best PenFed’s 9.24 APR.

The Citi Double Cash card also comes with some great travel protections that PenFed doesn’t offer, but it also has a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent, making a card like the PenFed Power Cash possibly the more economical choice for travel abroad.

The Discover Cashback Match offer is only good for the first year of card ownership. After that, you’ll earn 1 percent on all purchases, except for the quarterly rotating categories that can earn up to 5 percent back.

CARD SEARCH: Get a travel rewards credit card that pays more today.

Other PenFed reward cards

PenFed offers two other rewards credit cards. The Platinum Rewards Visa Signature card pays 5 times points at the gas pump, 3 times at the supermarket and 1 point on other purchases. The Premium Travel Rewards American Express card offers 5 times points on all airfare purchases and 1 point everything else.