PenFed Credit Union Pathfinder : Best No Annual Fee Travel Credit Card

PenFed just announced the Pathfinder American Express card, a new no-annual-fee travel card. The card is worth considering because it's comparable to the FNBO TravElite card

PenFed Pathfinder

  • No annual fee
  • Sign up bonus: 25,000 points after spending $2,500 within three months of opening an account
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA-PreCheck credit
  • $100 airline incidental credit each year
  • Earn 3x on all travel purchases
  • Earn 4x on all travel purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage Members
  • Earn 1.5x on everything else

Direct link to offer: https://www.penfed.org/credit-cards/pathfinder-rewards-american-express

How to apply for the PenFed Pathfinder

To qualify for the PenFed Pathfinder card, you have to be a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which is free to employees and household member of military or government organizations.

Alternatively, you can also join a military support organization like Voices for America's Troops ($17 membership fee) to qualify for PenFed membership. 

$100 Airline incidental credit

The $100 airline incidental credit is only issued once per card account, so authorized users will not receive any additional credits.

Incidental airline fees include baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food, airport lounge passes, pet-kennel fee, and phone reservation fees. 

To use the benefit, cardmembers should call the PenFed Customer Service hotline at (800) 732-8268.

25,000 Sign up bonus

The PenFed Pathfinder has a 25,000 point signup bonus after $2,500 in spend within the first three months. 

You can use the signup bonus towards airfare, hotels, and gift cards.

Sign up bonus

  • Airfare = 0.9 CPP * 25k = $225 in value
  • Hotels = 1.2 CPP * 25k = $300 in value
  • Gift cards = 0.85 CPP * 25k = $213 in value

Return on spend (via signup bonus)

  • Airfare = 9%
  • Hotels = 12%
  • Gift cards = 8.5%

Earn up to 4x on Travel

Regular PenFed Credit Union members can earn 3x on travel purchases. PenFed Honors Advantage program members earn 4x on travel.

To qualify for the PenFed Honors Advantage 2% cash back program, you must:

  • Have and maintain a PenFed Access America Checking Account

OR

  • Military service of the primary or joint applicant (active duty, reserve, honorably discharged, or retired).

More info here: https://www.penfed.org/credit-cards/honors-advantage

Bottomline

The PenFed Pathfinder card is a great keeper card worth considering because it offers a $100 travel incidental credit each year and $100 Global Entry/TSA-PreCheck credit.

The points earning rate is competitive with other cash back cards since you earn 1.5x on non-category spend.

In case you're wondering, the PenFed Pathfinder card is an American Express card, but it does not count towards the 4-6 credit card limit that Amex enforces because the card is not issued directly by Amex.