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Last updated on August 9th, 2021
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At a Glance
A credit card with absolutely no fees is wishful thinking no longer. Completely devoid of all fees, cardholders can rest easy knowing that they’ll never be charged an annual fee, foreign transaction fee, late payment fee, balance transfer or cash advance fee.
Ideal for Those Who
- Want a backup credit card to use for emergencies
- Plan on using balance transfer or cash advance capabilities throughout the life of the card
- Would rather have a great APR than rewards
- Are new to credit cards and want to build good habits (with minimal risks)
- Will spend $1,500 within the first 90 days
- Are already a PenFed member or are eligible to join the credit union
PenFed Promise Visa® Card Review
Among the Pentagon Federal Credit Union’s diverse credit card lineup, the PenFed Promise Visa® credit card is their simplest and most transparent option, having no fees of any kind. Fees for foreign transactions, late payment, balance transfers, and cash advances are all waived, making the PenFed Promise Visa® Card one of the lowest maintenance credit cards on the market.
Although the Promise Visa isn’t the first credit card with absolutely no fees (it’s common of the newer digital-based fintech credit cards), the PenFed Promise card has the advantage of an already-established banking infrastructure—such as access to ATM’s and physical branches— as well as a significantly lower APR than similar options. The PenFed Promise Visa® card does not earn rewards on purchases but promises ease of use, affordability, and reasonable interest rate that would be ideal for small spenders and first-time credit card users.
$100 Statement Credit Signup Bonus
Newly approved PenFed Promise Visa® cardholders will receive a $100 statement credit after spending $1,500 within the first 90 days of opening the card. Once earned, the statement credit may take up to 4 weeks to post to the account. The spending requirement breaks down to $500 per month, a reasonable amount for the average individual to meet but could pose a challenge without the aid of an introductory 0% purchase.
Low APR Card for Everyday Use
The card’s interest rate makes it an attractive low APR option useful for those who tend to carry a credit card balance from month to month and is just as suitable to be used a backup credit card for who want the safety net of a low APR in the instance of a large unexpected expense. The best interest rates are often reserved solely for those with the best credit scores, but applicants with Good or Fair credit will still be able to enjoy a great rate with the PenFed Promise Visa®. Even at the higher end of PenFed Promise Visa® APR range are still squarely in line with national averages.
Excellent Card for Balance Transfers and Cash Advances
But the low APR spells more than just good news for those want to pay as little as possible in interest. The low-interest rates paired with the lack of fees make the PenFed Promise Visa® an incredibly powerful financial tool for balance transfer and cash advances as well. All APRs (including balance transfers and cash advances, which isn’t as common) vary based on creditworthiness which gives this card tremendous potential as a long-term balance transfer/cash advance card – particularly those with Excellent credit and can secure the most competitive rates.
Low Introductory Rate for Balance Transfers
While all PenFed’s credit cards come with an introductory balance transfer offer, the Promise Visa® is the only one that features a lowered balance transfer APR rather than an outright 0% rate. For the first 12 months, new cardholders will have a 4.99% APR for balance transfers. After this promotional period is over, the remaining transferred balance will have the regular APR applied.
Keep in mind that if payment is not received 60 days from the due date then the promotional rate will end and the normal APR will immediately be instated.
Misconceptions about No Fee Credit Cards
The biggest misconception about credit cards with no fees is that they don’t have consequences for things like missing payments or paying less than the minimum due. Although the PenFed Promise Visa® does not charge penalty fees (nor a penalty APR, irresponsible card usage will still result in repercussions for the user. Aside from the normal interest charges incurred from any unpaid balances, PenFed reports to all three major credit bureaus. This will result in negative comments on your credit report and has the potential to lower your credit score.
Differences Between the PenFed Promise Visa® and the PenFed Gold Visa®
Although similar to the PenFed Gold card, the Promise Visa has several noticeable differences that make this card less suited for tackling existing debt than the Gold Visa card would be:
- Interest Rates/APR: The Gold card has the lowest APR of the two, although both have the same ending range which is still competitive.
- Penalties: The Promise card is much more lenient of missed or tardy payments and carries no late payment fee or penalty APR. The Gold card has both.
- Balance Transfers: The Gold card has a stronger offer although the Promise is better suited for handling balance transfers in the long run.
- Cash Advances: Both cards waive fees for cash advances, but the Promise has a variable cash advance APR where the Gold card is fixed. This means Promise cardholders have the opportunity to get a significantly lower cash advance APR – and not just compared to the other PenFed card, but of all credit cards in the industry
Should You Apply for the PenFed Promise Visa® Credit Card?
“No-frills” isn’t often used to describe a credit card in a flattering way, but in the case of the PenFed Promise Visa® its simple and straightforward structure is a coveted quality. The PenFed Promise Visa® carries no credit card fees of any kind. When paired with its competitive interest rates, it effectively functions as a jack-of-all-trades. In a pinch, the Promise Visa could be used in lieu of an introductory balance transfer or purchase APR offer as an affordable (albeit, not an interest-free) payment alternative.
Sadly, the promotional balance transfer APR is one of the weakest features of the card. The offer is only a reduced APR (not a completely waived one) doesn’t do much for the applicant hoping to use the Promise card to pay down existing debt. What the card excels at instead, is overcoming financial difficulties that users may encounter down the road. This card would be useful whether it’s used as an alternative to a payday advance, finance an unexpected medical bill, or take on the balance of a college textbook loan.
Since the card has no rewards, it’s ideal for smaller spenders who likely wouldn’t spend enough to make a rewards card worth the high APR they carry. The PenFed Promise Visa® also makes for a wonderful learning tool for first-time credit users. Credit beginners can rely on the lack of fees as a safety net getting into responsible financial habits with minimal risk.
Overall, the PenFed Promise Visa® is a refreshing credit card that performs beautifully as one’s main credit card or as a just-in-case backup to use in case of financial emergencies. Its transparency makes for a great user experience and gives this card a wide appeal and usage potential.