$100 travel benefit per year for free, and other perks from PenFed


PenFed Pathfinder Rewards

Do you remember my recent post “A great deal if you can get it: FNBO TravElite Amex Card“?  I wrote about the no-annual-fee travel TravElite card which was available only to those targeted.  Now, PenFed has released a nearly identical card that is available to everyone: PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Card

Click here for our complete guide to this new card

The PenFed and FNBO cards are strikingly similar:

  • Signup Bonus: 25K points after $2,500 spend in 3 months
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Both are American Express cards
  • 3X travel; 1.5X elsewhere (note though that the PenFed card offers 4X to some cardholders)
  • Global Entry Fee Reimbursement
  • $100 annual travel credit

The primary difference between these cards at the moment is that the PenFed offer is available to anyone who becomes a PenFed member whereas the FNBO offer is targeted.  Joining PenFed is easy.  I spoke with John Kelly (SVP Payment Product & Services at PenFed) who told me that there are many ways to join PenFed (see our Complete Guide for details) and that the option to join by donating $17 to one of two organizations will be built into the application process (I didn’t have a chance to test this when writing this post since the application link was not yet live).

Another big difference between the cards is the earning power.  TravElite points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash.  PenFed points are worth only .85 cents each when redeemed for gift cards.  However, John Kelly tells me that points are worth up to 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel, with an average redemption value around 1.18 cents.  Personally, I’d take 1 cent cash over a chance of getting just slightly higher returns for travel, but a 1.18 cent per point redemption is decent if his statistics are accurate.  Even better is that the PenFed card offers 4X rewards for travel purchases to those in the military or those with an an Access America Checking account (details about this option can be found in our Complete Guide).

Both cards offer an impressive list of perks for no-fee cards, but the feature I find most compelling in both cards is the annual $100 incidental airline fee credit.  Officially, this is just for airline fees that are separate from airline ticket charges. It is likely, though, that anything that works for Amex Platinum card or Premier Rewards Gold reimbursements will work with this card too.  For details, see: Amex Airline Fee Reimbursements. What still works?  But, this would still be a valuable perk even if the credits only worked for actual airline fees such as baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases, airport lounge day-passes, pet-kennel fee, and phone reservation fees.  Note that this perk is limited to the following airlines: American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Allegiant Air.

There are reports for both PenFed and FNBO that approvals can be difficult for those of us who have lots of cards open, but if you can get approved it seems like a nice easy win that will pay out up to $100 per year with no end date in sight.

For the record, we do not have any affiliate relationship with PenFed or FNBO.  I simply believe that these are excellent offers for no-fee cards.

Click here for our complete guide to the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Card

(you can also find this card on our Best Offers page)

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I was an idiot for tossing out my FNBO invitation a few months ago. Thanks for letting us know about this one!

Michael H

My wife and I both jumped on this, both approved. Thanks for the heads up.

Jiang Tong

I just applied for this card and was approved. However in Penfed’s website it doesn’t seem to mention the $100 travel incidentals reimbursement…




Applied yesterday before the application went public. Was auto approved. Been with Penfed for 5+ years. No mention of this $100 credit during application. After approval it indicated 4x travel awards, which I wasn’t expecting. Figured it was an error/glitch.


Embedded “donation” signup works. I was just able to complete the process. You may fund up to $100 on a credit card during the process – it does not indicate how the charge will code so I just did $5 to savings and $17 to join an organization. I paid with a debt card in hopes of avoiding any additional fee if it exists but I might have been better maxing out the $100 and taking my chances.


The airline limitation on this card’s $100 credit sounds like a big limitation for international travelers comparing to travelite. I do not recall seeing any airline limitation on teravelite $100 credit


Does anyone know if this card counts against the total of 5 AMEX credit cards that you allowed to have?


Was about to post same question. Deal maker/breaker for me


Do you think they may just allure the customers in for the first couple of years and then “change the program” such that you have to start to pay an annual fee? (any previous experience?) Also, could they charge you “maintenance fee” if you don’t spend less than certain threshold?

These are my pure suspicions but I don’t see they are angels or stupid, there must be a way that they can remain the revenue positive.


Any information on being able to convert existing penfed cards to this card. My Penfed platinum rewards Visa signature just never gets used over my pair of BOA (I have both a visa and a mastercard for the situations I go over the $2500 per quarter combines gas/grocery/wharehouse cap) cash rewards cards with platinum honors for 5.25% on gas and 3.5% cash back on groceries. It is one of my oldest cards, so converting to this if possible seems like a no brainier.


The product change I am requesting is from Amex to Amex.

I currently have the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express