The PenFed Promise Visa® Card gets less recognition than it deserves. While industry-leading credit cards garner fanfare with their generous sign-up bonuses, introductory 0% APRs and myriad travel perks, the PenFed Promise Visa® Card is merely the best no-fee credit card in America.
PenFed Promise Visa® Card: Benefits and basics
When the PenFed Promise Visa® Card says no fees, it means it. It has no late fees, balance transfer fees, cash advance fees, foreign transaction fees or penalty APR, and the annual fee is $0. Check out this chart to get the lowdown:
- Recommended Credit Score
- 690850Good - Excellent
- Card Details
- No late fee
- No annual fee
- 4.99% promotional balance transfer rate for 12 Months on transfers made between July 1, 2017 - September 30, 2017.
- No foreign transaction fee
- No rewards
- Min APR: 9.49%, Variable
- Max APR: 17.99%, Variable
- Cash Advance APR: 17.99%, Variable
Bonus Offers$100 Statement Creditƚ when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days.
- Purchase: None
- Transfer: 4.99% for 12 mos
- Additional Information
- $100 Statement Creditƚ when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days.
- No annual fee, No foreign transaction fee, No balance transfer fee, No cash advance fee, No late fee
- Low APR on purchases
- EMV chip-enabled for added security
To give you an idea of just how valuable the PenFed Promise Visa® Card can be, let’s take a look at what “no fees” really means:
No balance transfer fee
The typical credit card balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred. That might not seem like much, but a large transfer can be costly. For example, transferring $5,000 from a high-interest card will cost you $150 upfront. Depending on which card you’re transferring your balance to, that fee could be more than the interest you would save. That’s not a worry with the PenFed Promise Visa® Card.
No cash advance fee
Turning your line of credit into cash isn’t always the best choice, but the PenFed Promise Visa® Card is the perfect card to have if you’re in a pinch and need some quick cash. Most credit cards charge a fee of 3% to 5% of the amount advanced and impose a higher APR on cash advances. The PenFed Promise Visa® Card does neither. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll still have to pay interest on the cash advance, so it’s wise to pay it off as soon as possible.
No late fee or penalty APR
The Nerds recommend that you always pay your balance on time and in full. But that’s not always possible. Perhaps you’ve lost your job and can’t afford your bills. Or you had a hectic week and simply forgot to make a payment by the due date. Most credit cards will hit you with a penalty APR much higher than your normal one on the late balance, and tack on a late fee to boot. With the PenFed Promise Visa® Card, you won’t be penalized for making mistakes every now and then.
PenFed Promise Visa® Card: Pitfalls and alternatives
While the PenFed Promise Visa® Card stands out for its no-fee offering, it may not be the best choice for some. Here are a few reasons you may want to pass:
No introductory 0% APR period
You’ll avoid a fee when transferring a balance to the PenFed Promise Visa® Card, but the card doesn’t offer a 0% APR to help you save on interest.
The Chase Slate®, on the other hand, waives its balance transfer fee for the first 60 days after you open the account (after which it charges 5% of the transferred balance, with a $5 minimum), and it has an introductory APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.99% - 24.74% Variable APR. Read our full review for more details.
Your APR may be high
While the PenFed Promise Visa® Card is a fee-hater’s dream, you may get a relatively high interest rate — 4.99% promotional balance transfer rate for 12 Months on transfers made between July 1, 2017 - September 30, 2017., and then the ongoing APR of 9.49% - 17.99% Variable — depending on your creditworthiness. If you want a guarantee that you’ll get a low interest rate, the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® may be a better choice: 0% on Purchases for 15 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening), and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% Variable APR.
If you’re still partial to the no-fee feature, the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® is also light on the fees. It has a $0 annual fee and doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee or foreign transaction fees. While its late payment fee can reach $26, it has no penalty APR and the cash advance fee is a flat $3.
Having a card with no fees is nice, but if you never miss payments, and you use your card regularly for reasons other than balance transfers or cash advances, the PenFed Promise Visa® Card doesn’t have much to offer. In this case, you’re better off with a card that offers rewards.
You have to be a PenFed Credit Union member
Like most federal credit unions, PenFed membership isn’t available to everyone. Eligibility requirements include:
- You are affiliated with a branch of the United States military or work for the United States government.
- You work for an approved employer or belong to an approved association or organization.
- You live or work at an eligible location.
- You are a relative or housemate of someone who is eligible.
- You make a one-time donation to an eligible charity.
Is the PenFed Promise Visa® Card right for you?
The PenFed Promise Visa® Card is perfect for someone who seldom uses credit cards. Its no-fee approach gives you flexibility that other cards are likely to charge you for. However, if you plan to use your card regularly, and only for purchases (no transfers or advances), a rewards card is a better option.
Image via iStock.