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For no annual fee, the PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card gives you a $100 travel credit, reimburses your Global Entry application fee, and lets you earn up to 4x points on every travel purchase. Is this travel rewards credit card a good deal?

The information for the PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

What Are The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards Benefits?

The Pathfinder Rewards American Express credit card offers the following benefits:

  • Up to 4x rewards points on all travel purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage members
  • 3 points per dollar on travel purchases for all other cardholders
  • 1.5x points for all non-travel purchases
  • No earning caps or limits on rewards
  • $100 annual air travel credit
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement
  • 25,000 bonus points ($250 value) after spending $2,500 in the first 90 days

You will get all of these benefits for no annual fee, which makes this travel credit card pure profit as you enjoy several premium travel credit card perks without the high annual fee.

The $100 air travel credit will reimburse your incidental expenses like checked baggage fees, in-flight purchases, change fees, and lounge passes.

Eligibility

Everyone is eligible to apply for membership to PenFed, though some products require military affiliation in order to receive specific benefits. To earn 4x points on the Pathfinder card, you must be a member of the PenFed Honors Advantage Program. To be eligible for the program, you must:

  • Be in an active military service status, a member of the Reserves or National Guard, an honorably discharged U.S. Military Veteran or retired from such service OR
  • The member must be the primary owner on both the credit card and checking accounts of any existing open or newly established PenFed product, excluding PenCheck Limited accounts

There are no membership fees to worry about, but all members must open and maintain a required $5 share in savings. Learn more here.

Advantages of the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards

Let’s quickly review what makes the PathFinder Rewards Amex a great option:

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Up to 4x points on all travel purchases
  • $100 travel credit
  • $100 Global Entry application fee reimbursement (renews every five years)

By redeeming the annual travel credit and having Global Entry access, you automatically receive free benefits before you spend your first dollar.

Considering most flexible travel credit cards only earn 2x points on all travel purchases, you will earn double the points. Since the primary strength of no-fee credit cards is how quickly you can accrue points, the 4x bonus is a major selling point.

Disadvantages of the Pathfinder Rewards

There are four looming disadvantages that can deter you from applying for the Pathfinder Rewards:

  • Cannot transfer rewards points to travel partners
  • Don’t get other “premium” travel benefits like airport lounge access

Is it worth switching banks or opening another bank account just to get a new credit card? It depends on how badly you want to earn 4x points on travel purchases and the other travel credits.

Alternatives to the PenFed PathFinder Rewards

If the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards doesn’t provide enough value for your taste, you need to consider these four alternatives that might offer the secret sauce the PathFinder Rewards is missing:

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Annual Fee: $95
Reasons to Consider: 1:1 point transfer partners/ 2x points on all travel and dining purchases

If you primarily want a card that makes it easy to earn and redeem rewards points, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

You won’t get the air travel credit or Global Entry application fee reimbursement, but your points can easily be worth 1.25 cents or more while each point with the Pathfinder Rewards is only worth 1 cent each:

  • Points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed directly through Chase
  • Transfer points on a 1:1 basis to 13 airline and hotel partners

Transferring your points directly to your travel loyalty programs is well worth the annual fee because you can easily make your points worth 2 cents each with these Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer hacks. You can transfer your points in 1,000 point increments to United, Southwest Airlines, British Airways (American Airlines partner flights), Hyatt, and Marriott to name a few of the possibilities.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express card

Annual Fee: $0
Reasons to Consider: 3x points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals, 3x points on eating out and ordering in, 3x points on gas stations, rideshares and transit, 3x points on popular streaming services

One of the best travel credit cards with no annual fees, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has several benefits. Each point is worth 50% more when you book award flights directly through Wells Fargo. The Propel Card makes it easy to optimize your daily spending as you earn unlimited 3x points on dining, travel, gas and transit, and popular streaming services. There is no annual fee or foreign transaction fee.

Platinum Card from American Express

Advantages: 1:1 point transfers, $400 in annual travel credits, 5x on airfare, airport lounge access, other travel amenities

If you’re the kid that goes to the ice cream shop and orders a sundae with a cherry and sprinkles on top, The Platinum Card® from American Express is right up your alley.
You will enjoy the following travel benefits:

  • 5x points on airfare and hotel purchases
  • 1:1 point transfer
  • $200 air travel credit
  • $200 Uber credits
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement
  • Complimentary airport lounge access to The Centurion, International American Express, Priority Pass, and Delta SkyClub
  • Upgraded Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest membership status

Additionally, cardholders can get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on their Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. However, they must be enrolled for this benefit to apply.

If you enjoy luxury travel, it only makes sense to consider a true premium travel rewards card like the Amex Platinum. The hybrid “no-fee” cards like the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards don’t charge a fee for a reason.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Reasons to Consider: 1:1 point transfers, 3x points on dining, $300 travel credit

If you like the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards because of the opportunities, but still want a rewards card with more benefits or isn’t issued by American Express, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be your best alternative.

Like the $95-a-year Sapphire Preferred, you can transfer your points on a 1:1 basis or redeem for 1.5 cents each, but you get a few extra perks along the way:

  • 3x points on dining (1x for all remaining purchases)
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access
  • Global Entry application fee reimbursement

You can also earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. You will only earn 1 point less per dollar for your travel purchases compared to the Pathfinder Rewards. That’s a fair tradeoff for the 50% point redemption bonus or 1:1 points transfer opportunities.

And, the $300 travel credit can be applied to all travel purchases–not just baggage fees or other air travel incidentals.

Summary

If you want to earn the most points possible and don’t want to transfer them to a travel partner, the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards can be a good option because you’ll never pay an annual fee. But, if you want to have the 1:1 transfer option and other premium travel benefits, spring for a flexible rewards card with an annual fee, especially since most are waived for the first year.

Johnny Jet Editorial
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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