Penfed Visa Platinum Cashback Rewards Card – 5% Cash Back on Gas

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There used to be a bunch of great cashback cards for gas, but now the only one that still offers 5% back to consumers is the PenFed Visa® Platinum Cash Rewards Card. It offers:

  • 5% cash back on gas purchases (must pay at pump)
  • 0.25% cash back on everything else.

No annual fee. The rewards are credited on each monthly statement, so that you don’t have to wait to meet any $50 thresholds or remember to call in. If your family spends $200 on gas per month, that alone will have this card paying you $120 per year in rewards.

The catch? You must also be a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and you can apply for membership as part of the credit card application. In general, membership is open to members of the military and affiliated organizations, US government employees, or the family or household of existing members. However, anyone can become eligible by joining the National Military Family Association (NMFA) for a $20 one-time fee (and it goes to a good cause). PenFed also offers other competitive financial products, including low-rate mortgages and long-term CD rates.

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  1. also the Exxon Mobil platinum MC is good, 15 cents off per gallon in rebates towards Exxon/Mobil gas. Get a Speedpass from them too (on the card application check yes). Depending on the cost of gas, this is better or the same as 5% rebate. ($2.99 x .05 = 14.95 cents off)

    Apply for it on

    In my area (San Diego) many Exxons are closing because Exxon doesn’t want to franchise anymore, so check your area first to see if there are any stations left. Mobil seems to be holding steady though. Still, it’s a pain in the butt to have to plan out my route so I can get gas at the nearest Mobil (about 5 miles out)

  2. The relative value of all these different rewards cards depend on how much you spend in each of the various categories the cards feature. For me, the trifecta is: Citi Forward VISA for 5% back at restaurants, fast food, entertainment and; Chase Freedom VISA for ~5% back on all small purchases (< $10) regardless of category; and (for everything else) Fidelity Rewards AMEX offering 2% on everything.

    I’ve fined-tuned this to match my personal spending habits, so the three above are not applicable to everyone. For example, my biggest spending category is by far food+drink so I went for Citi Forward; I don’t own a car so I’ve eschewed cards that perhaps offer more than 2% back in gas, etc, etc.

    But for what it’s worth, I really reccommend Citi Forward – not only is its cash back % generous but it also provides even more points for good credit activity like paying your bill on time. Chase Freedom is good ONLY if you have a Chase checking account to have their “Ultimate Rewards” point system which works out to 5% back for small purchases (it’s stated value is 1% but you get bonus points or whatever they call their gimmick if you have the checking acct with them so the return on small purchases is high). And the Fidelity card requires a Fidelity acct to deposit the rewards into. (I believe Schwab offers something similar.)

    So there are caveats but if you do your research – all these cards have been written up here in My Money Blog – you can do well esp if you charge a lot.

  3. Informer says

    AMEX Blue Cash still pays 5% on gas – and on groceries and pharmacy, while still paying 1.25% on everything else. You do need to spend $6500 to reach that level and the rewards are paid out on your anniversary date – so some different hurdles that might not make it seem as shiny. But this remains a great card – and getting 5% back on groceries (our personal biggest expense) is really a boon!

  4. Don’t forget about the Fort Knox Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum.

    It’s similar to the PenFed card, but it’s 5% gas and 1.25% on everything else. Membership is open to everyone – they will automatically sign you up for the “American Consumer Council”, which is free.

  5. This card is the reason I joined PenFed many years ago. Their interest rates are great and I have since financed 2 cars through them and will continue to give them first crack at any financial needs I may have.

    An important note to add is that the NMFA membership does NOT need to be maintained from year to year. The NMFA will send renewal information, but once you are a member of PenFed, you’re in.

  6. I clicked on the link, and i didnt see 5% back for gas, i saw it back for air travel.

    is the link correct?

    edit: never mind, i found it, its the second credit card listed, and its not bullet-ed as obviously as the first CC

  7. Do you signup for NMFA first separately then PenFed or does the PenFed application go through the process of NMFA?

  8. Informer, for the AMEX Blue Cash, if I spent $6500.01 in gas & groceries a year, do I get 5% rebate of the $6500.01? Or is just the $0.01 qualified for the 5% rebate?

  9. @Adam – Nice find. Do you have this card? What do you think? I wish their website was better, but it does appear that you can join for only $10 and a $5 share savings deposit.

    @Nuri – Yep, it’s the 2nd card on the bottom. Added some clarification to the post.

    @Ryan – If you click on the application link for the card, they will guide you through membership process. It’s integrated.

    @TL – Only the 0.01 will qualify for in your example for 5%. Here’s a pretty chart I put together that shows how the average gas cashback changes with Blue Cash depending on your charge amounts.

  10. @Jonathan
    Funny thing… their website is brand new, actually. They just updated it a couple weeks ago. 🙂

    I have a share account and was approved for the card. I’m just waiting to receive it in the mail.

    It’s definitely a “mom & pop” type of credit union. Opening an account and applying for the card involved sending in paper forms and a couple of phone calls. But the customer service is very friendly. There’s a good thread on FatWallet about this card if you’re looking for more info.

  11. It says before starting the application that you must “Open a Regular Share Account with at least $5”. Do i have to leave that money with them for as long as I use the card, or can I withdraw it after I get accepted?

  12. @SteveW – You have to leave the $5 in the share account as long as you are a credit union member. In theory, you are keeping money in some sort of pool that “credit union” members can borrow from. It can be withdrawn later if you decide to leave later on.

  13. It says it’s a $20 ANNUAL feel, didn’t say ONE time…

  14. It’s a $20 annual fee to stay a member of the NMFA. You just have to be a member of the NMFA *when* you join Penfed. Your future Penfed membership is then independent of whether you renew your NMFA membership.

    I’ve been a PenFed member for a few years now, with no need to renew. NMFA does offer GEICO discounts that can be worth the $20 if you use them.

  15. Doesnt PenFed have its own Geico discounts? (as well as Liberty Mutual)

  16. Also, many are reporting that PenFed has a “Summer Bonus” on their June statements which is 3% back on Electronics and Home Improvement…

  17. Do you if non US citizens can apply for this card ? I am a US resident.

  18. Do credit card paper statements cost $0.50/statement?

  19. I love this credit card. The customer service at PenFed is the best I have received. They often tell me that its fine if I am a few days late in making my payment. The website now lets you schedule payments (before it only allowed immediate payments) and they can link quickly to any US checking or savings account.

    Also PenFed does not charge any foreign transaction fees, but Visa does slap a 1% free on there, but hey, when you get 1.25% back then you are still making money by buying abroad.

    This card keeps me from gassing up at Costco because after the 5% discount gas is cheaper elsewhere. But I do wonder if gassing up at Safeway gas station counts for the full 5%?

    • One of the little known tricks at Costco is you use the laser scanner to read the bar code on the back of you Costco Visa, and then Insert the Penfed Cash Rewards Visa into the credit card reader to get your 5% gas cash back. It’s great because you get the Costco member price, and the Penfed cash back is deposited at the end of the statement period, you don’t have to wait until the end of the year!

  20. Once in awhile I respond to the latest offer for a particular card that might help out my finances. Lately they are all turning me down. I know my credit score and have gotten the complete record. Funny, but they are good, but the turndown that upset me was one from Fidelity AMEX saying that I sufficient credit from others and I was late one time. Now, with all the confusion of electronic payment, user names, passwords, URLs, and the rest of the electronic world, I am hoping that eventually I will need nothing except a credit card for those that won’t take cash and the cash that otherwise would be tied up in e- this and that. My final credit card payment will be for prepaid funeral expenses and then I will be happy. No more credit cards or other accounts to get me into dept! Hurrah!

    PS: If I ever tried to figure out what credit card was better for what spending, I would truly go berserk. Sometimes simplifying life is a better route to take, but I have not quite reached nirvana.

  21. I got this card back February and really like the rewards. I see the rebate credited to my account each period.

    There are two ways to pay for the card. You can either pay the card directly by linking it to your external checking, or you can transfer money to your PenFed checking and then pay the card (which I prefer, more of a money trail).

    The only problem I have with this is that since I only use PenFed for the card and not a bank (no local branches), I have to resort to depositing via ACH. And, for some reason, my daily limit for ACH transactions is $50.

  22. I just checked the Pen Fed disclosures on their Visa Platinum Cash rewards card, and it says there is a 2% foreign transaction fee.

  23. Amex Blue offers 5% back on gas and 1.25% on other items. Not all places take Amex, but most gas stations do.

  24. BEWARE PenFed AmEx Travel Card. Yes its easy to accumulate points. Its quite another matter to redeem them. The people at the company they hired are rude and not helpful. I’ve been trying for a week to obtain plane tickets. They told me they are forbidden to talk to customers about plane tickets. I have been told repeatedly “there is no help available”. Wish I’d gotten a cash back card.

  25. Deputy, thanks for the head up. I just signed up for this card. I like PenFed a lot, but I think I will take my sign-up bonuses and run. I don’t reward crappy products, I exploit them for all they can legally/ethically do for me and then I discard them.

  26. I use the BP Chase Credit Card. No annual fee, and 5% cash back for all purchases (gas or other items) at BP gas stations.

  27. Charles McKeldin says

    You still owe me a $10.00 reward card. I received my first one but never received my second one, I have stopped using BP because I can not seem to get a response from BP. I was purchasing about $65.00 a day in Fuel for Jobsite. I have sent many of emails and comments. I guess I will bug the 1-800 number. After reading the comment on this page and several others I am beginning to think your company is a scam artist. I want my $10.00 reward card that is due me. Charles McKeldin 521 south 7th street Fernandina Beach FL 32034. How about an RSVP just for something new.

  28. @Charles – Um… you do realize that I am not BP, right? This is a personal website that has no affiliation with BP whatsoever.

  29. Just an update- the PennFed card does NOT give 2% on supermarket purchases (may have when this blog entry was published, does not today- I just called). It still works out better for us, so I am going to go ahead with the application.

  30. Tyrone Biggums says

    Charles McKeldin- I just read your story and feel very sorry for you. I just mailed you a $500 check. Enjoy! 🙂

  31. Mint Waxed says

    PenFed Credit Union: Credit card reward points can be deceptive. When I first obtained their Visa Platinum Rewards card, the reward was expressed purely as a percentage but was subsequently changed to a point system. So, 5% on gasoline, 3% on supermarkets, and 1% on other purchases became 5 points on gasoline, 3 points on supermarkets, and 1 point on other purchases. But here is where the knife drops. A devaluation was realized because 5,880 points are required to be redeemed to receive a $50 cash card. Under the old purely percentage system, this would have been equivalent to only 5,000 points. Frustrated by this deception, I’ve build a spreadsheet to convert points rewarded to a percentage. Calculations reveal that the actual reward amounts are now 4.25% on gasoline, 2.55% on supermarkets, and 0.85% on other purchases. To calculate the point-to-percent figure, you must first divide the reward amount by the number of points required. Currently, PenFed requires 5,880 points for a $50 cash card. Therefore, each point is worth (50 / 5880) = 0.008503401. In the 1xpoints category, this is equivalent to .85%. In the 3xpoints category, (3 x .008503401) is equal to .025510203 or 2.55%. Finally in the 5xpoints category, (5x .008503401) is equal to .042517005 or 4.25%. Bottom line, when rewards are expressed as points, you never know what you are getting until you find the value of each point and how many points are required to redeem a given money amount.

    • I also just signed up for this card for thinking it was 5% gas and 3% supermarkets. I discovered the same thing after looking at redemption options, frustrating.

      @Johnathan – I know this was written in 2010 so redemption options Likely changed but do you know if there is any way to redeem for statement credits for .01 per point value? It’s either he’s to find or they’ve discontinued altogether.

  32. Do all gas stations pay the 5% ?? I have asked PenFed and they give me the run around…..

    • Mint Waxed says

      To answer questions, they have a 3-ring notebook where they look up pre-written answers to the most common questions . . . sort of like Q-cards. In my opinion and from past experience, the answers they pick do not always address the problem at hand. I had to write a complaint letter to the agency that governs credit unions to get them to pay 5% rather than a fractional amount.

      Re: “Do all gas stations pay the 5%”. Yes, they should but be advised you will only get 5% on gasoline. Other items purchased in the store default to 1%.

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