Advertiser Disclosure

5 Things to Know About the PenFed Promise Visa Card

June 19, 2019
5 Things to Know About the PenFed Promise Visa Card
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

In a market where issuers dangle flashy rewards, juicy sign-up bonuses and other eye-catching extras to entice you, the PenFed Promise Visa® Card can seem pretty pedestrian.

But there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple, and sometimes basic can be better. As a cost-conscious option, the PenFed Promise Visa® Card stands tall among its peers for what it doesn’t have: There’s no annual fee to carry the card, no foreign transaction fee and, crucially, no balance transfer fee

Here’s what else you should know about the PenFed Promise Visa® Card.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best balance transfer credit cards

1. Membership is required, but anyone can join

Like most credit unions, PenFed requires that you become a member to apply for and use any of its financial products. But PenFed has relaxed its eligibility requirements. You no longer need to be related to a member, nor do you have to be affiliated with (or make a donation to) any particular organization.

To become a PenFed credit union member, just fill out the basic information form, open a required minimum $5 savings account, and you’re in.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best credit union credit cards

2. It’s a good pick for a balance transfer card

When you’re looking to transfer debt from a high-interest credit card, you typically have a choice: You can pick a card that offers the longest available terms (ideally at a 0% intro APR), or you can opt for a card that charges the lowest fees to make a balance transfer. The PenFed Promise Visa® Card offers a twist on these options. There’s no balance transfer fee, but there’s also no 0% introductory APR period, either. The card offers a 4.99% promotional rate for 12 months on transfers made now through September 30, 2019, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 17.99% Variable.

That’s still a vast improvement from the double-digit ongoing APRs charged by many credit cards, and it landed the card a spot on our list of the best no balance transfer fee credit cards.

But it pays to do the math. Long term, it could be cheaper to pick another card with a 0% intro offer if what you’ll save on interest payments overall is greater than what you’ll pay upfront for the balance transfer fee.

» MORE: How to choose a balance transfer card

3. There are no ongoing rewards …

You won’t earn ongoing rewards on everyday purchases with the PenFed Promise Visa® Card. So if you aren’t looking to transfer a balance — and assuming you always pay your bills in full and on time — you’d benefit more from a rewards card that can snag you cash back or points.

» MORE: How to choose a rewards credit card

4. … But there is a sign-up offer

That’s not to say there’s no upfront rewards incentive at all. Somewhat oddly, while the PenFed Promise Visa® Card doesn’t earn ongoing rewards, it does offer new members a sign-up bonus: Earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in purchase transactions within the first 90 days of account opening.

That may not be the best credit card bonus offer around, but it’s relatively attainable. 

5. No penalty APR or late fees

Sometimes things happen and you miss or skip a payment. If this sounds like you, the PenFed Promise Visa® Card’s forgiving nature could be appealing. There are no late fees and no penalty APRs — although paying late can still affect your credit scores