PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card Review

In terms of travel rewards, it's difficult to beat the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card because it offers five points per dollar on all airfare purchases. Although you will have to become a PenFed member first, any initial headache will be worth the long-term rewards and low APR.

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The Good

High rewards for booking airfare

There are many standout features to choose from with this credit card, but the most obvious has to be the five points per dollar spent on airfare purchases. It’s hard to find rewards earnings as high as five points or five miles per dollar spent on any card that’s not specific to a certain airline or travel company.

Large upfront point bonus

When you spend $2,500 within the first three months of opening a PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card, you will earn 20,000 bonus points. That’s essentially worth $200 toward your next flight. Generally, it’s uncommon to find reward cards that have no annual fee and high rewards while still offering a large signup bonus.

No foreign transaction fee

If you’re using a travel credit card, it’s expected that you might be traveling internationally in some cases. When that happens, it’s nice to be able to make purchases and not be charged a foreign transaction fee.

Very low APR

At 9.99% APR, the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards card has one of the lowest APRs in the travel credit card industry. If it’s likely that you’re going to carry a balance over each month, you can save yourself a significant amount of cash by doing it at a lower rate.

Promotional balance transfer rate for 18 months

For those looking to transfer a balance over to another credit card, it would be tough to find a better choice than this PenFed card. With a 0% APR balance transfer rate for 18 months, you don’t get charged an additional amount on your balance for a year and a half. However, this balance transfer deal is only from January to March so you will be missing out if you wait until after March 31. After that date, the APR rate goes to the standard 9.99%.

Variety of reward redemption options

You aren’t limited when redeeming points earned on your PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card. You can redeem for travel, merchandise, and gift cards by using the PenFed rewards website. In addition to rewards, you can also earn a free LOUNGE CLUB membership once you spend $15,000 on the card in one year.

The Bad

Must be a PenFed member

It’s tough to find the negatives with this card, but one issue is that prospective cardmembers have to become a PenFed member as part of the credit card application process. If you aren’t a member through employment, association membership, or from volunteering, you can establish membership through two charity memberships, which will cost you either a $15 or $20 one-time fee.

Dated rewards website

The PenFed rewards website is fairly outdated with old icons and a confusing layout. There are icons for Car Booking, Cruise Booking, and Hotel Booking that you can’t even click on. On a positive note, there is a wide variety of redeemable rewards that you can choose from.

The Details

Rates and Fees

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Cash Advance Fee: None
  • Cash Advance Rate (APR): 9.99% until June 2014, varies thereafter
  • Foreign Currency Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory Rate (APR): 9.99% for 16 months
  • Standard Rate (APR): Varies

Penalty Fees

  • Default Penalty Rate (APR): 17.99%
  • Late Payment Fee: Up to $10 - $25 (depending on balance)
  • Minimum Interest Charge: None
  • Over-Limit Fee: None
  • Returned Payment Fee: Up to $25

Balance Transfers

  • Introductory Balance Transfer Rate (APR): 0% for 18 months
  • Standard Balance Transfer Fee: $10 or 3% per transfer ($250 maximum)
  • Standard Balance Transfer Rate (APR): 9.99%


  • Additional Rewards for Dining: None
  • Additional Rewards for Gas: None
  • Additional Rewards for Groceries: None
  • Additional Rewards for Shopping: None
  • Additional Rewards for Travel: 5 points per $1
  • Bonus Points Offered: None
  • Rewards Earnings for All Purchases: 1 point per $1
  • Sign-Up Bonus: 20,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 within first 3 months
  • Type of Reward: Points

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