Review: PenFed Gold Visa® Card – Is It Right for Balance Transfers?
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The PenFed Gold Visa Card features few fees, low interest rates, and an introductory period for balance transfers. While there are no rewards and very few benefits, the main reason to get this card is to pay off a balance from another card at a lower interest rate.
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Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
We give the PenFed Gold Visa® Card four out of five Stars. It provides an uncomplicated approach to balance transfers and has few fees, which is especially nice when you’re trying to pay down debt.
Why We Like It
- Introductory balance transfer offer
- Few fees
- Introductory bonus statement credit
- Decent benefits
Why It Could Be Better
- Balance transfer fee
- No spending rewards
- Must be a PenFed member to apply
- $1 fee for each paper statement received (you can opt for electronic statements instead)
So there are the basics, but why should you get this card?
The most obvious answer, and arguably the most important, is to save yourself money. This card exists solely to let you pay down a balance at no interest, after transferring it from a card with a high rate. It’ll cost a fee, but you can save yourself some cash with the lower rate.
The balance transfer offer is 0% for 12 months, after which the rate will be 17.99%. And there’s no annual fee, late fee, or foreign transaction fee.
Although there are no spending rewards, there is a welcome bonus for spending a certain amount after opening the card. This seems out of place on a card designed for balance transfers, because it generally doesn’t make sense to make purchases on a card while it has a balance transfer balance, since there won’t be a grace period. More on that later.
If you’re looking for a straightforward balance transfer card with little else to pay attention to, keep reading to find out if your search is finally over.
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
- Take advantage of the intro balance transfer APR: You’ll get 0% for 12 months, then 17.99%. During that time, you’ll be able to carry a balance on this card without accruing interest, saving you money and giving you time to pay down a debt.
- Pay off the balance before the window closes: Do your best to finish off the balance before the intro period is up. But even if you might not hit that mark, carrying a balance at 0% interest would still save you money compared to a higher rate.
- Pay off your purchases each month: If you transfer a balance and carry it from month to month, you’ll lose your grace period for purchases. That means any purchases you make will begin to accrue interest immediately. To pay them off, you’ll need to pay more than your minimum payment each month — enough to cover those purchases in full.
- Consider the welcome bonus: You can use this card for all your spending until you reach the signup bonus, but be aware, your purchases will accrue interest if you don’t pay off your balances in full each month by the due date. It may be wise to spend enough to get the bonus before conducting a balance transfer; otherwise your purchases will accrue some interest until you pay them off, although the bonus will likely make up for that.
- Use this card when you travel: There’s no foreign transaction fee so you could use this card when you’re outside of the country without being charged extra.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
While the PenFed Gold doesn’t offer any rewards on purchases, there is a welcome bonus attached. The main focus of this card is transferring a balance over at low interest so that you can pay down a debt, but earning that credit is handy too.
You should know, however, that if you don’t pay off your balance in full by the due date, you’ll lose your grace period. That means purchases will accrue interest (both in that statement period and going forward).
So, if you use this card for a balance transfer and carry that balance from one month to the next, you’ll lose your grace period. That could cause a bit of concern if you’re also trying to get this bonus, because your purchases will accrue interest. But, in most cases, the amount of interest you pay will likely be far less than the value of the bonus.
One way to get around this would be to spend enough to get the bonus, pay off the card, and then conduct any necessary balance transfers. But this would eat into your 0% intro APR period.
Or, if you transfer a balance and then make purchases (or do those things at about the same time), things get a bit more complicated.
You’ll have two balances on your account at once: one balance from the balance transfer (at 0% APR) and another balance from the purchases (at a higher APR).
Your minimum monthly payments will always be applied to the balance with the lowest APR; any payments made above the required minimum will be applied to the balance with the highest APR.
So, if you make purchases along with your balance transfer, you’ll need to pay the required minimum plus the amount you spent on purchases, plus any accrued interest.
For example, let’s say you make a $1,000 balance transfer in your first month (at 0% APR), and pay $30 for a minimum payment that month (remaining balance is $970). Next month, you make a $100 purchase (at 10% APR), which accrues 30 cents in interest by the end of the billing period.
When you get the bill for that second statement period, your total balance is $1,070.30. Say your minimum payment due is $30.
Now, you’ll need to make a payment of $130.30 to pay off your purchase balance in full: $30 of that will go toward your transferred balance, and $100.30 (the amount over the minimum payment) will go toward your purchase balance.
This might be worth it for a month or two to get the bonus, but it’d be a hassle to go through all this month after month. So we recommend:
- Trying to get the bonus first, and quickly
- Paying off the full balance after that
- Using this card primarily for balance transfers after paying off the bonus
The PenFed Gold doesn’t have an overly impressive selection of benefits. While some of these are still useful, this card isn’t chosen based on the perks and benefits.
- Free FICO credit score: Cardholders can see their FICO NextGen Scores, based on their Equifax credit reports.
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage for collision damage and theft of eligible rented vehicles, when you decline the rental company’s own insurance
- Roadside Dispatch: Pay-per-use roadside assistance should you ever run into car trouble during your travels
- Travel Accident Insurance: Get covered for accidental death or dismemberment for no additional cost, up to $100,000.
- Emergency Card Replacement/Emergency Cash Disbursement: Should you lose your card, PenFed will quickly get another card to you, and provide some emergency cash to a convenient location if you’re in a pinch.
The Terms & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|7.49% to 17.99% Variable||0% for 12 months, then 17.99%||17.99%|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|3% per transaction||None|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|17.99%||Up to $28||Up to $25|
The main thing to be aware of here is the balance transfer opportunity. There’s a 0% interest offer for your first year, but there’s also a balance transfer fee of 3% per transaction. Luckily that fee is actually relatively low, considering many cards charge 5%.
So, let’s say you have a $3,000 balance on another card that’s about to start incurring interest. You’d be able to transfer that balance over to the PenFed Gold to avoid the interest for a $90 fee — 3% of the transferred balance. Then you’d have additional time to pay off that balance before it starts to grow, saving you money in the long run (as long as the transfer fee is less than the interest you would’ve paid).
Keep in mind if you don’t make your minimum payment within 60 days of your due date, you will lose the 0% interest offer.
2021’s Best Credit Cards With No Balance Transfer Fees and 0% APRTake a look!
The Bottom Line
If you need to transfer over a balance that’s incurring interest on another card, the PenFed Gold Visa® Card is a decent option. While it does feature an intro balance transfer offer, it also has a transfer fee, no rewards, and limited benefits.
There are some better cards on the market that have longer introductory periods, no transfer fee, and rewards (though you may not care to earn rewards with a balance transfer card).
The PenFed Gold’s singular purpose is to provide a balance transfer so that you can save money by paying down a debt at no interest. So if you want to use this card for anything else, you should consider looking elsewhere.
How to Apply for the PenFed Gold Visa Card
Simply follow the Apply Now link below to be directed to the credit union’s site. You’ll apply with PenFed; after giving them the necessary information (and signing up to be a member) you should typically hear back pretty quickly.
It’s interesting to note that in the card terms, PenFed states the length of your membership is taken into account when determining your creditworthiness. Having been a member for longer will probably help, but it’s hard to say for sure how membership affects your approval odds.
What Credit Scores Do You Need for the PenFed Gold Visa?
The PenFed Gold is designed with people who have fair or average credit scores in mind. This amounts to a FICO score of at least 580 or so, and a VantageScore of at least 650.
But, you should know that credit approval decisions use more than just your credit scores; other factors, like income, matter as well. So you may be approved with scores below that range, or denied with better scores.
Qualifications and Requirements
- Must be 18 to apply
- Must be a PenFed credit union member
- Personal information: Name, date of birth, Social Security number, U.S. citizenship status
- Address and contact information: Home address and how long you’ve lived there, phone number, email address
- Financial information: Total annual income, monthly mortgage or rent payment
Alternatives to the PenFed Gold Visa Card
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The information related to Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
The information related to Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
Do you use the PenFed Gold Card? Tell us how you like it, or let us know which balance transfer card you prefer. We’d love to hear from you!Find other great options for paying down a balance Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of October 2021
Evan graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in journalism and creative writing. In his professional writing career, he strives for precision and comprehension in his work. He’s written news articles, blog posts, and copy, working across a slew of different mediums. With in-depth research and great care for accuracy and detail, he now works to bring you the most up-to-date credit information.
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