Posted by William Charles on January 16, 2018
Credit Card Review

Published on January 16th, 2018 | by William Charles

263

PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Review – 25,000 Point Sign Up Bonus + $100 Airline Credit & No Annual Fee

Update 01/16/18: Card has launched and it’s significantly better than first thought. I’ve updated our review below with the new details.

It looks like PenFed have discontinued their PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Card and replaced it with the new PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express.

Card Basics

  • Card earns at the following rates:
    • 4x points on all travel purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage Members (to be eligible for this you must be a military member or holder of PenFed’s Access America checking account)
    • 3x Points on on all travel purchases for regular members
    • 1.5x Rewards on everything else
    • Travel includes: Commuter transportation, rail, taxi/Uber/Lyft, bus lines, cruise, air, travel agency, tolls miscellaneous (Transportation and Travel Arrangements), hotel, trailer park/campgrounds, car rental, tourist attractions
  • $100 credit towards eith TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. This applies once every five years
  • $100 airline fee credit
  • Sign up bonus of 25,000 points after spending $2,500 or more within the first 90 days
  • No annual fee
  • 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 12 months. 3% balance transfer fee applies

 

$100 Airline Fee Credit

For more information on this airline fee credit and what does/doesn’t work please read this post.

How Much Are Points Worth?

These points are not the same as previous points from PenFed. Annoyingly PenFed does not make their travel portal available until you have the card, making it difficult to know how much points are worth.

  • Airfare: Points are worth 0.85¢-0.9¢ per point when redeeming for airfare, if you don’t have enough points to pay for the full flight then you can pay the remaining in cash.
  • Hotels: Points are worth 1.18¢-1.25¢ when redeeming for hotels
  • Giftcards: These start at 2,940 points for a $25 gift card (0.85¢ per point)
  • Merchandise: It’s also possible to redeem points for merchandise, although this basically never provides good value

Applying For Card

To apply for this card, you must be a member of PenFed. The easiest way to qualify is to be a previous or existing member of the military. You can also join National Military Family Association ($17) or Voices For Troops ($17). More information about becoming a member of PenFed can be found here. They will also sometimes request pay stubs to verify your income.

Our Verdict

This card reminds me of the FNBO TravElite card that also has a $100 annual airline credit with no annual fee to worry about. Unfortunately that isn’t available for public sign up anymore, but this new PenFed card is. I think it makes sense to sign up and keep the card long term due to the airline credit. The sign up bonus of 25,000 bonus is worth anywhere from $212.25 to $312.25.  It’s usually possible to book hotels at a deep discount (see our guide to stacking Hotels.com here) so I wouldn’t value the points anywhere close to 1.25¢ each. The card is pretty good for travel purchases as well, especially if you’re eligible for the 4x rate. Will you be applying for this card? Let us know in the comments below.

Hat tip to David L



263
Leave a Reply

avatar
 

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Willy
Willy

Love your site, and I love to see the typos you make. It surprises me that you have so few, when I compare your site to my sent mail at work 🙂

See:
Sign up bonus of 25,000 points after spending $2,500 or more within the first three days

JakeFromStateFarm
JakeFromStateFarm

Spend $2,500 in the first three days? Are they targeting overachieving Churners and MSers? 😉

Adam

they would be if it was the first 3 mins after activating your card 😉 any more time than that is just you being lazy lol.

Omer
Omer

Amount to join Penfed for either of the Associations you have mentioned is currently $17

Gloob
Gloob

Word of caution on penfed travel portal – as of last summer, there is no way to tell if you are buying a “basic economy”ticket when booking a award ticket. I got burned bad because I used these points to fly VCE-FCO-ATH-FCO on Alitalia Apparently the last leg of ATH-FCO was booked into basic economy and I got stuck paying about €200 in bag fees for bags that flew for free on every other segment of my trip.

Nothing on my reservation or confirmation said anything about basic economy.

Gene
Gene

Thanks for the heads-up! That’s good to know. Similar problems can be said of other bank travel portals I’ve used: Citi only lists Delta basic economy and not main cabin economy, but usually/always at the price of main cabin economy; BofA practically is just a skin for Orbitz, which isn’t cheaper and makes changing the reservations harder.

Charlie
Charlie

I’m reluctant to use travel portals for this reason. I prefer travel cards that allow me to transfer bank points to airline miles so I can deal directly with the airline when I redeem.

MarkJ
MarkJ

Unless you are rebuilding your credit, or needing to transfer a large balance, you don’t need a Pen Fed card.

Sam
Sam

Actually don’t join Penfed if you need to build your credit, they won’t give you any offers once your credit is no longer shitty.

Alex
Alex

Just to add some info: I was told by a PenFed rep that the points earned on this card are not the same points as those earned from their Platinum Rewards card (5x gas/3x grocery).

JZM
JZM

Application goes live, it has &100 air travel credit and Global entry credit, same as Travelite.

Alex
Alex

I don’t think it has the air travel credit. I know frequent miler posted this, but I didn’t see this benefit anywhere. Was auto approved yesterday before the public app went live. Still not seeing any mention of this $100 air travel credit within the public app.

JZM
JZM
Dan
Dan

here is a link to the info about $100 airline credit (clicking the link in the reddit conversation downloads the pdf) https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comments/7qt6ad/0_annual_fee_american_express_card_from_penfed/dsrofos/

Alex
Alex

Nice! Thanks!

Drew S
Drew S

I applied and appoved. The TSA/GE credit is probably useful for some that wont pay an annual fee. Hopefully the $100 travel credit stays around for a few years. Add those two things and the 25k points and it seemed like a reasonable bonus to me.

Can you still load serve with 3rd party amex cards and get credit for them?

Bhanna
Bhanna

Did you pay the penfed $17 to become a member, or did you not even bother becoming a member or were you already a member?

Drew S
Drew S

I paid the $17 donation. You get approved before you have to commit to the $17.

zalmy

I’d like to know this too. If yes, this card is a no-brainer for me.. I still have 5 active Serve cards and that would turn this into a gold mine

RY
RY

If I already have the Penfed Travel Rewards AMEX card am I going to be automatically converted to this card?

Michael
Michael

What counts as travel for this? Just approved, seems like an awesome long term keeper for the global and 100 credit for incidentals. I don’t have a card yet that pays for tsa so looking forward to getting that!

Sam
Sam

TSA/GE is once every 5 or 4 years?

Joe
Joe

5

Bhanna
Bhanna

Do you think the RAT team applies to Amex cards like this? or is it less likely since this is a card issued by a different card issuer?

Sorry if this is a stupid question–

Dave
Dave

Not the Amex RAT. The PenFed RAT, sure.

Bhanna
Bhanna

So manufactured spending would be a no-no for this card in trying to meet the spending requirement?

Charles
Charles

I just applied and was approved. I found one of the terms very interesting. I don’t recall ever having been asked to agree to this before. I thought credit cards were supposed to be unsecured debt? Looks like they want the right to take anything you got even after death.
14. GRANT OF SECURITY INTEREST IN SHARES. To
protect us if you are in default on any credit extended or
cash advanced under this account, you have granted a
security interest in all of your shares, deposits, payments
and dividends which may be received, whether held jointly
or individually, up to the amount of your outstanding
balance. The foregoing security interest includes the right
to apply funds available to you in any jointly held account
on your date of death. This does not include your individual
retirement account (IRA). We may take all the shares
needed by us to repay your credit extension or cash advance.
If it is necessary to take all of your shares for the payment of
this account, you understand your membership in PenFed
may end. Collateral securing other loans with the credit
union may also secure this loan

Ian
Ian

Mind sharing some more data about your credit profile for those of us wanting to apply? i.e. current FICO, average age of accounts, how many new accounts in the past 2 years, how many inquiries, which bureau they pulled, etc. Thanks in advance!

Charles
Charles

Sure Ian. FICO runs 810-825. I’m currently 814 and 16/24 per credit journey though I’ve added at least 3 that haven’t hit chase yet. Don’t know AAoA or who they pulled yet. I’ve had a mortgage with them for 10+ years. Instant approval for 25k.

Ian
Ian

Thanks a lot!

PT
PT

This is because PenFed is a credit union. Any credit union that grants you credit lines has these terms, whereby they will take any deposits you may have with that credit union if you default on a credit line. So, yes, technically credit union credit cards range from minimally secured (if you have say $100-300 in savings) to fully secured (if your deposits in the CU are higher than your card credit line).

Charlie
Charlie

This is the exact same Grant of Security Interest in Shares that I had to sign when I got the PenFed Power Cash Rewards Card last year. I think they’re probably using it for all new cards these days. (I’ve been a PenFed member since 1993 and have FICO scores in the 800s.)

Ryan
Ryan

This is actually pretty common for credit unions. Navy Fed has the same thing on my cards there, and I think I remember the same w/ DCU.

Josh
Josh

DP:
not military, not PenFed member, no PenFed checking/ saving
applied card, auto approved with 4x travel rewards

CongestionCharge
CongestionCharge

What did they pull?

Josh
Josh

Equifax

Sa
Sa

Joined the CU through signing up for one of the Assoc. Applied for the amex pathfinder. No id verification questions. Approved with message telling me limit and apr. No pulls in any of the three major reporting agencies. I find it strange. I have been getting new cards every month since september. Too lazy to look up scores and 24 month accounts. Will post again if anything develops.

Charlie
Charlie

You may see a pull within a few days.

Sa
Sa

What do they pull?

Charlie
Charlie

Equifax.

Sa
Sa

Update: they pulled Equifax. It showed on credit karma after two days.
The pathfinder account showed online one day after approval.
Still find it super strange that during the application, for both cu membership and credit card, I was not presented with any identity verification questions. Anyone recalls if they had to answer identity questions during the application for this?
And, thank you Charlie for the answers below.

Michael H
Michael H

I did not, but my wife did. I found it strange as well.

Robert
Robert

I just the CU and also didn’t receive any pull notifications. Did any pop-up ever?

Back to Top ↑