Years ago, when both credit and champagne flowed freely down Wall Street, the fabled 5% cash back reward credit card freely frolicked among elm and oak trees of Central Park. Nowadays, finding a decent 5% cash back reward credit card is rarer than seeing a unicorn… but today I saw one. His name was PenFed .
PenFed is short for The Pentagon Federal Credit Union, a credit union for the branches of the military and government, and has been a popular credit union for personal finance enthusiasts. A few years ago, you could get some pretty high interest rates on their certificates of deposit. Today, the interest rates are more pedestrian but I bet they’ll be more attractive in the future.
However, the real claim to fame, at least today, is their 5% cash back on gasoline credit card.
5% Cashback on Gasoline
While normally known for its great interest rates on deposit products (savings, CDs), offers a PenFed Visa Platinum Card that gives you 5% cash back on gas purchases paid at the pump. The PenFed Visa Platinum card  is pretty lights out when you compare it to its competitors. You get 1% on everything else.
If that wasn’t enough, there are no limits to the rewards and the cash back is credited to your card each month. No points, no games, just straight up cash credited to your statement. That’s ideal.
Like any credit union, it’s only as good as your ability to join. To be eligible, you had to be connected to the military in some way – either active or retired, related to someone who is, worked at a military installation, a government employee, or employee/volunteer with the American Red Cross (here’s the full eligibility list ).
Fortunately, if none of those apply, you can join the National Military Family Association  and be eligible for an account through your affiliation with them. A single year annual membership costs $20, and eligibility to PenFed, and you can decline to renew the following year.
Right now, the deposit products (checking, savings, CDs) aren’t all that spectacular. They used to be leaders in certificate of deposit rates but the shorter term rates just aren’t that appealing. A 12-month CD for 1.25% APY puts it near the back of the best CD rates , though rates get a little better the longer you stretch the maturity. Their savings account yields 0.35% APY, again not very appealing.
If you do open an account, be aware of the various minimum account balances and service fees PenFed  charges for deposit accounts.
If I didn’t buy the vast majority of my gasoline from Costco, which only accepts American Express credit cards, I’d be all over this. I still might join in the near future just to get access to their CDs, which I anticipate will become more attractive whenever the Fed begins raising interest rates again.