Summary of the Penfed Premium Travel Rewards Amex Credit Card

Last Reviewed: 1/31/2011

The Pentagon Federal Premium Travel Rewards card offers an excellent 5 points per dollar spent on airfare, and should definitely be in your consideration set if you are a frequent flyer-type. And if you don’t travel at least a bit, you should. It’s fun. And you might find international romance.

Possible Warning: I’ve come across a fair number of comments on various blogs indicating potential customer service issues with PenFed (I have experienced this pain first-hand with the one PenFed card I do have, the Platinum Rewards card, which I got for it’s balance transfer offer).

A Quick Note on Joining the PenFed Credit Union: PFCU is a credit union, and as such you need to become a member before you can obtain their credit products.  If you’re not ex-military, you’ll need to join the National Military Family Association, which will set you back $20 (also, once PenFed accepts you, you don’t need to renew the NMFA membership).  Additionally, you’ll need to open a PenFed savings account and fund it with $5.  While these extra hurdles are a bit of a drag, they’re easily worth it given the card’s upside.

PFCU Premium Travel Rewards Credit Card Snapshot
Issuer/Network Penfed/Amex
Reward Program Details
Dollar value per point $0.010 (gift cards)
Base Rewards 1 point/$1 of spend
Bonus Category Rewards 5 points per $1 of airline spend
Sign Up Bonus None
Spend Target Bonus 20,000 points when you spend $650 in 1st 3 months
Redemption Details See below
Other Benefits Annual membership plus 2 complimentary passes per year in Priorty Pass. Must spend $15K per year to qualify.
Points Caps None
Points Expiration 5 years
APR Info
Std Purchase APR/Intro APR 13.99% / None
Std Bal Transfer APR/Intro APR 13.99% / 2.89% for 12 months, then standard Bal X-fer APR
Default APR 17.99%
Grace Period 25 days
Fee Details
Annual Fee None
Foreign Transaction Fee None
Balance Transfer Fee 3%, min $10, max $250

Taking A Closer Look At the PenFed Credit Union Travel Card Rewards

The Penfed Travel Rewards credit card has a number of things going for it, including:

  • The 3-month spend target bonus of 20,000 points.
  • The value of the Priority Pass membership and 2 certificates (valued at about $150 per year if your spend reaches $15K annually). Note that even excluding this value, the Penfed Travel Amex card still winds up near or at the top of the list.
  • Earning 5 points for every dollar spent on airfare.

PFCU Travel Credit Card Fees: Some Pleasant Surprises

While it’s usually the rewards story that carries the day, in the case of the PFCU Travel Card, the fee story is also appealing. Perhaps most notably, there is no foreign transaction fee for the PenFed Premium Travel Card-quite a rare feature these days. The card used to have an annual fee of $50, but that’s been done away with as well. Another rarity-the balance transfer fee is capped at $250-not super low, but you’ll save $50 if you were to transfer $10K (versus a normal 3% fee card with no fee limit).

Some Final Thoughts from GetDebit on the Penfed Premium Travel Rewards Amex Credit Card

This is another example of a niche credit card.  You should only apply for this credit card under these conditions: 1) you do a reasonable amount of travel (enough to make it worthwhile to get 5 points per dollar spent on travel), and 2) you have the discipline to only use it for travel purchases (since it only earns 1 point on all other purchases).  Finally, I can say first-hand that PenFed’s “organizational” skills and processes can be very frustrating to deal with (it took me more than a month to get my Platinum Rewards card after being approved for it, including numerous phone calls, filling out and faxing in documents, etc).

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