PenFed Rewards Program Changes – Points Now Go a Bit Further

PenFedRecently, PenFed made a number of changes to its rewards program. The most immediately noticeable one is that the old standalone rewards site has gone away. Members no longer need a separate username and password, as they can access all rewards information, including current points balance, from their account. Members can also browse and redeem rewards without leaving PenFed’s website.

The rewards inventory has also slightly changed, as have the redemption schedules for some of the rewards. Of particular note are the redemption rates on Visa prepaid gift cards:

Prepaid card value # Points required before # Points required now
$50 6,100 5,880
$100 12,000 11,760
$250 29,600 29,410
$500 N/A 58,820

Interestingly, the redemption rate for the $50 and $100 prepaid cards is slightly better than the rate for the $250 and $500 prepaid cards.

Crunching the numbers, the new redemption schedule means that the PenFed Platinum Rewards card, which earns 5 points per $1 spent at gas stations, now effectively earns approximately a 4.25% rebate on gas when your points are redeemed towards prepaid Visa gift cards. That’s not quite as good as the 5% rebate on gas you earn with the “Plus” version of the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa card, but the Plus card requires you to have a qualifying PenFed account to avoid its annual fee. The points-earning Platinum card also has the added benefit of earning 3 points per dollar (approx. 2.55% rebate) spent at supermarkets and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else.

Overall, it’s a somewhat minor change, but improvement is always welcome. After all, there aren’t many credit cards that offer a better rebate on gas year-round with no annual fee than the Platinum Rewards card.

(Note: For those in the market for a credit card that maximizes their rebate on gas, a couple of alternatives to consider are the Fort Knox Visa and the Sallie Mae MasterCard.)

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