PenFed Platinum Rewards Review: Earn Revved-Up Gas Rewards

The card offers one of the highest rewards rates in the category, but speed bumps include membership eligibility, uneven point value and limited redemption options.

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: The high rewards rates on gas and groceries are attractive, but be mindful of the hurdles you may face when it comes to redemption.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card

on Pentagon Federal Credit Union's website

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

13.49% - 17.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% promotional rate for 12 months on balance transfers made between now and September 30, 2021

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Bonus categories

Cons

  • Must be a member/customer
  • Complicated redemptions

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$95

Regular APR

13.49% - 17.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% promotional rate for 12 months on balance transfers made between now and September 30, 2021

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

Commuters, rideshare drivers and other road warriors may want to stay seated for this: The earns an unlimited 5 points per dollar spent at the gas pump, and for an annual fee of  to boot.

That's among the very best rewards rates on gas you'll find anywhere.

In addition to free-flowing fuel rewards, the card also pays an unlimited 3 points per dollar on groceries and an unlimited 1 point per dollar on all other qualifying purchases.

There are some catches, though. Redemption options are limited — cash back is not available — and point values may not be equal to other cards' rewards currencies. Plus, you'll have to join PenFed's credit union to apply.

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Card type: .

Annual fee: 

Sign-up bonus: 

Rewards:

Points are redeemable for travel, gift cards and merchandise. Note that actual cash back isn't an option. Typically, travel redemptions yield the highest point value, usually about 1.7 cents per point, although according to a PenFed spokesperson, hotel bookings tend to inch slightly higher in value. When it comes to gift cards and merchandise, you can generally expect a value of about 0.85 cent per point, although you may be able to take advantage of periodic point sales where gift cards, merchandise and hotels can be purchased with fewer points than the standard price.

Introductory APR offer: .

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If you would have paid for those pit stops with the , you'd have earned 10,500 rewards points by year's end, or about $89 worth of gift cards. Not too shabby.

The 3 points back per dollar spent on groceries, dining, and cable and streaming services is a nice plus, too. That rate might sound similar to the , which also has an annual fee of and earns 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Terms apply — see . But the  has no such cap in this category, and it also earns a higher ongoing rate on gas.

Unlike some other gas-rewards-focused credit cards, the  doesn't cap the amount of rewards you can earn quarterly or annually on its bonus categories. There's no limit to how many points you can earn.

The comes with a sign-up bonus:  That's not as high as some other rewards cards, but it's still some extra dough that could go a long way toward filling up your tank or your grocery cart.

Also, it's a , so cardholders get benefits at hotels that are part of the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection, such as complimentary breakfast daily and room upgrades when available. It also means access to a Visa Signature concierge, auto rental collision coverage, travel accident insurance, and roadside dispatch service in the U.S. and Canada.

And, of course, because the  isn't issued by a megabank, you'll instead enjoy the .

To apply for the , you have to be a member of the PenFed Credit Union.

Everyone is eligible to join, but it does require a few extra steps. You'll have to submit an application and make a $5 deposit into a PenFed savings account to set up your membership.

Although you can redeem your rewards for merchandise, gift cards and travel (by air, hotel and car), you can't redeem your earnings for actual money. Also, note that a minimum point balance of 1,000 is required for redemptions. Other gas rewards cards give you the option of a direct deposit to your bank account, a statement credit, a check that's mailed to you or in some cases a direct ATM withdrawal of your rewards.

The points earned on a are worth less than one cent each in most cases, typically about 0.85 cent, a PenFed spokesperson confirmed. This is a poor rate compared with other rewards cards that charge no annual fee.

The exception are points redeemed for travel, which — depending on dates and options — are worth, on average, 1.7 cents each, according to a PenFed spokesperson.

When it comes to strong cash-back value, you could instead consider the . It earns 3% cash back in a category you choose (from a list of six options, including gas) and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 in combined choice-category/grocery/wholesale club spending per quarter. All other purchases earn 1%. The quarterly caps can make this card a little more complicated, but you'll have access to cash back when you want to redeem your points. And if you're already a Bank of America® customer, you could .

Keep in mind that unlike a lot of other gas credit cards, this card's high rewards rate on gas applies only to what you are purchasing specifically at the pump. That means that purchases you make inside an attached convenience store may not be eligible to earn 5 points per dollar spent.

To find out how this card measures up to other rewards cards, visit our roundup of .

If a hefty portion of your household budget goes toward gas, followed by groceries, the  might earn you more total points than the competition. And if you're OK with redeeming for things like travel or even gift cards, you'll likely be satisfied with the return.

But if your lifestyle has less predictable spending patterns, if you spend more in other areas, or if you just want plain old cash back, another card may be a better fit over the long haul.

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To view rates and fees of the , see .

on Pentagon Federal Credit Union's website