Credit Cards » Credit Card Reviews » PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card Review 2023
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PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card Review 2024

If you are prepared to join a credit union, this card offers generous rewards even compared to its more mainstream competitors.
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

We earn a commission from our partner links on this page. It doesn't affect the integrity of our unbiased, independent editorial staff. Transparency is a core value for us, read our advertiser disclosure and how we make money.

PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Visa Signature

Rewards Plan

1.5x – 4x 3 points on all travel categories (4 points for PenFed Honors Advantage Members), and 1.5 points on all other purchases

Welcome Bonus

50,000 points 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days

Credit Rating

Good – Excellent Credit

Intro APR

12 months on balance transfers

Annual Fee

$95 Waived for existing Honors Advantage Members

APR

17.99% (variable)
PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Visa Signature

Rewards Plan

1.5x – 4x 3 points on all travel categories (4 points for PenFed Honors Advantage Members), and 1.5 points on all other purchases

Welcome Bonus

50,000 points 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days

Intro APR

12 months on balance transfers

PROS

CONS

APR

17.99% (variable)

Annual Fee

$95 Waived for existing Honors Advantage Members

Balance Transfer Fee

3%

Credit Requirements

Good – Excellent

You don’t necessarily need to use a large bank to obtain a rewards credit card and the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards is a great example of this. If you are prepared to join a credit union, this card offers generous rewards even compared to its more mainstream competitors.

The card has an impressive 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. You can also earn 3 points on all travel categories (4 points for PenFed Honors Advantage Members), and 1.5 points on all other purchases.

The tiered reward structure is weighted towards travel, but you can still earn some points on your everyday purchases. This makes it a great option for those who are regular travelers, but also want to earn rewards on all their purchases.

The card is also a solid option for those carrying a balance on other cards. There is a 0% APR promotional rate for 12 months on balance transfers, but you will need to pay a 3% fee for each transaction.

What can I redeem Pathfinder® Rewards points for?

Your reward points can be used for travel, gift cards, merchandise, experiences, or charitable donations. For instance:

Choose from a variety of gift cards for dining, shopping, and entertainment from renowned brands. With more than 300 gift card companies to pick from, you can find the ideal present.

Travel – If you're arranging a trip, check out our PenFed catalog to discover where your PenFed Rewards can take you.
Shop for gadgets, children's products, recreational equipment, fashion and cosmetic products, food and wine, household goods, luggage, and more.

  • Domestic air travel credit
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Enhanced Security
  • Access to PenFed Member Discounts
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre Check Credit
  • Priority Pass Membership
  • 0% APR on Balance Transfers
  • Access to Visa Signature Discounts
  • Membership Required
  • Varied Point Values
  • Annual Fee
  • No Cash Redemption

Does PenFed ask for proof of income?

In most cases, you will not be required to provide proof of income, as PenFed will rely on your credit score. However, in some circumstances you may need to support your application with proof of income.

In this case, PenFed will advise you of what is required and how you can submit copies of your payslips, bank statements or other proof of income.

Can I get pre-approved?

There is no pre approval option on the main website, but once you are a member, you may receive a pre approval offer for this card or other PenFed products.

When you shouldn't get the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards card?

The main reason not to get the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards is that you have no interest in becoming a credit union member. You can only open a Pathfinder Rewards card account if you’re already a PenFed member.

Another reason not to consider this card is if you are interested in cash redemption. The Pathfinder Rewards is also not a good option for frequent travelers who are interested in a comprehensive travel perks package.

Does PenFed offer a gooddigital experience?

While PenFed does not offer 24/7 customer service, the website and app are well regarded. The app is available for Android and iOS devices and there is an online chat feature. This combines to create an excellent digital experience?

How’s the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards customer service availability?

Although PenFed does not have a 24/7 helpline, there is a comprehensive help section on the website. This should help you to find answers to common queries and questions. You can also access a chatbot 24/7 or submit a contact form.

In this Review..

Benefits

You can enjoy up to $100 per year in statement credit for domestic air ancillary travel costs.

This is a great perk for travelers as you won’t be charged an extra fee if you use your card outside the U.S.

The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards has enhanced security features for greater reassurance. There is not only 24/7 fraud monitoring, but also Secure Remote Commerce technologies to protect against unauthorized use when you shop online.

Additionally, the details of your account including your name and security codes are not stored on your device, so merchants will not see your personal account information.

You will be able to enjoy access to PenFed member discounts. 

These vary, but current discounts include a discount on car rentals with National or Alamo, exclusive car and home insurance rates, savings on your wireless bills, dental benefits, and retailer discounts on replacement auto parts, flowers and electronics.

Top Offers

Amex gold

Rewards Plan:
1X – 4X 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
60,000 points 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership

upgrade cash rewards

Rewards Plan:
1.5% 1.5% cash back on payments
Welcome Bonus:
$200 Earn a $200 bonus after you open & fund a Rewards Checking Plus account & make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days. If you previously opened a checking account through Upgrade or do not do so as part of this process, you are not eligible. Payout made within 60 days of meeting the conditions.

AMEX Blue Cash Preferred Card review

Rewards Plan:
1-6% 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) and selected U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back on transit and U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
$250 $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
Top Offers From Our Partners

Amex gold

Rewards Plan:
1X – 4X 4X points at restaurants (including Uber Eats purchases in the U.S.) and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
60,000 points 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership

upgrade cash rewards

Rewards Plan:
1.5% 1.5% cash back on payments
Welcome Bonus:
$200 Earn a $200 bonus after you open & fund a Rewards Checking Plus account & make 3 debit card transactions within 60 days. If you previously opened a checking account through Upgrade or do not do so as part of this process, you are not eligible. Payout made within 60 days of meeting the conditions.

AMEX Blue Cash Preferred Card review

Rewards Plan:
1-6% 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) and selected U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back on transit and U.S. gas stations, 1% cash back on other purchases
Welcome Bonus:
$250 $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

If you pay for your Global Entry or TSA Pre Check using your card, you’ll receive a statement credit to reimburse you for your application fee.

The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards offers a complimentary annual Priority Pass membership. Your Priority Pass can provide access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world.

If you are looking to save money woth 0% Intro APR, this card offers 12 months on balance transfers

The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards is a Visa Signature card, which also provides access to further discounts and deals. 

The variety of offers include shopping, hotels, entertainment, car rentals, sports, food, wine and more.

Drawbacks

You do need to become a member of the PenFed credit union. While membership is open to everyone, there are a number of requirements to becoming a member.

The points earned with the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards do not have a set value. This means that your preferred redemption method will determine the points value. 

However, the average point value is 0.8 cents each, which is below the industry standard. There are better rewards cards out there.

Unlike many cards that don't charge an annual fee, the card does carry a $95 annual fee, and this is only waived if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member.

Although there are a few different redemption methods including gift cards and travel, there is no option to obtain cash for your accumulated points. 

This is a fairly standard option with many reward cards, even if it does not represent the best redemption value.

Rewards Simulation: How Much You Can Earn?

Based on the type of purchase, the card offers two tiers of rewards.

This table will show you how much money you will actually be getting back. Don't forget to modify it to reflect your personal spending style. The rewards calculation relevant for the average customers (PenFed Honors Advantage Members members will earn more).

PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Visa Signature
Spend Per Category
PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
$12,000 – U.S Supermarkets
$12,000 points
$5,000 – Restaurants
$5,000 points
$5,000 – Airline
$15,000 points
$5,000 – Hotels/Car Rental
$15,000 points
$4,000 – Gas
$4,000 points
Estimated Annual Value
$51,000 points

How Much Does 51,000 Points Worth?

The best use of your rewards is to use them for travel, which, according to Nerdwallet, has an average point worth of 1.7 cents. The average point value, however, is 0.8 cents per point, which is less than the industry average.

So, if you redeem 51,000 points for travel – you'll earn an annual value of about $867. In case you would like to redeem for any other category such as guft card, your 51,000 points is worth about $408.

How to Maximize the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards?

While the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards card is quite straightforward, there are some ways that you can maximize the value of this card. These include:

  • Become a PenFed Honors Advantage Member: Not only will you earn a higher number of points on your travel purchases as a PenFed Honors Advantage Member, but the annual fee is also waived.

Fortunately, becoming an Honors Advantage member is easy. You can qualify through a military service connection, as an active duty, reserve, retired or honorably discharged military service personnel. The other qualification option is to open and maintain a PenFed checking account. Provided you keep the checking account open and in good standing, you’ll maintain your Honors Advantage status.

  • Sign Up For TSA PreCheck or Global Entry with Your Card: Global Entry or TSA PreCheck is a fantastic service for regular travelers and if you use your card to pay for the application fee, you’ll be reimbursed.
  • Check for Insurance Deals Before You Renew: There are some exclusive membership deals and discounts available on both home and auto insurance. This means that having your PenFed Pathfinder Rewards card could actually save you money as well as earn rewards.

How to Get a GM Rewards Card?

It is possible to apply for your PenFed Pathfinder Rewards card online, but it is a little more complicated compared to a conventional card.

  1. The first step you’ll need to complete is to join PenFed. There is a “Join PenFed” button on the main website page.
  2. After you click the button, you’ll need to provide your name, address, email and phone number. You will also need to provide a minimum $5 initial deposit to open your savings account. Once the account is opened, you are a PenFed member.
  3. When you have your membership credentials, you can then apply for your new PenFed Pathfinder Rewards card. This can also be done online and the process is fairly standard across all financial institutions.
  4. PenFed will automatically have your basic personal details, but you will also need to provide some financial information including your income. PenFed will initiate a credit pull and you will need good to excellent credit to qualify.

Compare The Alternatives

If you're looking for a travel card, there are many alternatives in the market. Here are some of the best:

Bank of America® travel rewards

capital-one-venture

chase_sapphire_preffered

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee
$0
$95
$95
Rewards
1.5X 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
2X – 5X 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, plus 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
2X – 5X 5x total points on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3x points on dining, online grocery purchases and select streaming services. 2x on other travel purchases. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Welcome bonus
25,000 points 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
75,000 miles
60,000 points 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Foreign Transaction Fee
$0
$0
$0
Purchase APR
18.24% – 28.24% Variable APR will apply.
19.99% – 29.99% (Variable)
21.24%–28.24% variable APR

FAQ

While it may not be as quick as with a conventional credit card, since you also need to become a member, PenFed does process credit card applications quite quickly.

So, you should only be waiting a day or two at most for your approval decision.

It is possible to add an authorized user to your PenFed Pathfinder Rewards card. You’ll need to complete and submit a form or call the customer support line.

You will need to provide the full name, date of birth, and the Social Security Number of the person, along with their relationship to you

The initial credit limit for the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards is $5,000, but if your income, credit score or other financial factors qualify you, you may receive a higher starting credit limit.

There is no set income requirement for the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards. However, you do need good to excellent credit. This means that not only your income, but your debt obligations, ability to repay new debt and other factors will be considered.

Picture of Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Credit Card Reviews Methodology

In order to determine the best possible credit cards, we look at things like fees, interest rates and rewards. We do this with companies that are associated with us as partners as well as other offerings. From there, we make a decision about what the best card is related to different categories and needs. We focus on interest rate cost & fees, especially the cost of carrying a balance, rewards – cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely usability – cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting. We also consider customer reviews.

We look at cards related to good or excellent credit ratings that will then provide a range of different benefits and improvements for someone who has these scores. We also look at low fees when it comes to those who have lower credit scores.