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Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?

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phantasm
New Contributor

Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?

I recently got the PenFed Pathfinder card as an honors advantage member. Among others, some standout perks are:

  1. 50K SUB ~ $425-$500
  2. 4X points on all travel categories including things like EZ Pass, Ferries, etc
  3. Reimbursement for Global Entry/TSA Precheck up to $100
  4. $100 Annual "domestic air ancillary travel" statement credit - has some limitations like cabin upgrades

  5. Priority Pass membership (discounted use); I think you can use the credit above for this

Points can be exchanged for travel, merchandice, merchant GC, or Visa GC. The latter comes to about $0.0085/pt. The former you can get closer to 1:100. Effectively this makes it anwhere from a 3.4-4% CB card (for travel). Annoyingly, however, is that unless you are looking for a GC from Panera, IHop, or Chipolte, redemption is in increments of $25 (except travel, I think). Therefore you are almost always going to have points "left behind". Another annoyance is that if you are wanting to create a single bucket of points by getting the Platinum Rewards for gas, you are supposedly out of luck (according to the CSR).

 

Is this the best general purpose travel card out there or is there something better I should take a look at?

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39 REPLIES 39
mgood
Valued Contributor

Re: Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?

There are certainly more popular travel cards out there from Amex, Chase, etc. What's "better" is going to be up to the individual and how much you spend, how much you travel, and how you hope to use the rewards. I think the Pathfinder looks pretty good. If PenFed ever starts letting us PC from one card to another, I'll change my Gold to a Pathfinder to get some kind of rewards out of it.

 


@phantasm wrote:

Points can be exchanged for travel, merchandice, merchant GC, or Visa GC. The latter comes to about $0.0085/pt. The former you can get closer to 1:100. Effectively this makes it anwhere from a 3.4-4% CB card (for travel). Annoyingly, however, is that unless you are looking for a GC from Panera, IHop, or Chipolte, redemption is in increments of $25 (except travel, I think). Therefore you are almost always going to have points "left behind". Another annoyance is that if you are wanting to create a single bucket of points by getting the Platinum Rewards for gas, you are supposedly out of luck (according to the CSR).


That's exactly like the rewards system I have with the Platinum, which is a card I like quite a bit. Yeah, it's a little annoying that there are points "left behind," but I can use them next time. I didn't know that points wouldn't transfer between cards like Platinum and Pathfinder. I haven't looked at those details all that close because I haven't tried to get a Pathfinder.



EQ8 769, TU8 766, EX8 765 as of July 21
AZE7 - 3% Utl - New Cards: 1/6, 3/12, 6/24
Message 2 of 40
OmarGB9
Community Leader
Super Contributor

Re: Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?

Agreed with the above about "better" being subjective. What is "better" for you may not be "better" for someone else.


Last App: 1/10/2023
Penfed Gold Visa Card

Currently rebuilding as of 04/11/2019.

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Message 3 of 40
phantasm
New Contributor

Re: Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?


@OmarGB9 wrote:

Agreed with the above about "better" being subjective. What is "better" for you may not be "better" for someone else.


Care to qualify this a bit more? For me a general travel card is one that is all purpose and not specific to a single use case. I'd love to hear some other examples of generic travel cards and how they rank against the PenFed card. 

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mgood
Valued Contributor

Re: Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?


@phantasm wrote:
I'd love to hear some other examples of generic travel cards and how they rank against the PenFed card. 

This may be an unpopular suggestion, but I'd say go watch YouTube. There are lots of comparisons of travel cards there.

I say it could be unpopular here becuase there is a lot of inaccurate information there and a lot of YouTubers get paid to promote certain cards. So just take their glowing reviews with a grain of salt. Probably not a whole lot of discussion of PenFed there, but there are many videos on Chase vs Amex vs whoever. You can get an idea of the pros and cons of various travel cards and compare those to what PenFed offers.



EQ8 769, TU8 766, EX8 765 as of July 21
AZE7 - 3% Utl - New Cards: 1/6, 3/12, 6/24
Message 5 of 40
phantasm
New Contributor

Re: Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?


@mgood wrote:

@phantasm wrote:
I'd love to hear some other examples of generic travel cards and how they rank against the PenFed card. 

This may be an unpopular suggestion, but I'd say go watch YouTube. There are lots of comparisons of travel cards there.

I say it could be unpopular here becuase there is a lot of inaccurate information there and a lot of YouTubers get paid to promote certain cards. So just take their glowing reviews with a grain of salt. Probably not a whole lot of discussion of PenFed there, but there are many videos on Chase vs Amex vs whoever. You can get an idea of the pros and cons of various travel cards and compare those to what PenFed offers.


Yeah -- same reason why TPG, Forbes, and others aren't my first stop for unbiased comparisons. To me MyFico forums has been a bit of a gold mine, much better than r/creditcards. I also like DoctorofCredit but having others' unbiased opinions is the best.

Starting Score: 800
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Goal Score: 850


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OmarGB9
Community Leader
Super Contributor

Re: Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?


@phantasm wrote:

@OmarGB9 wrote:

Agreed with the above about "better" being subjective. What is "better" for you may not be "better" for someone else.


Care to qualify this a bit more? For me a general travel card is one that is all purpose and not specific to a single use case. I'd love to hear some other examples of generic travel cards and how they rank against the PenFed card. 


Well, you'd probably want to look at NFCU Flagship or Amex Platinum or Chase CSR/CSP, aka the usual/most popular cards. 


Last App: 1/10/2023
Penfed Gold Visa Card

Currently rebuilding as of 04/11/2019.

Starting FICO 8 Scores:




Current FICO 8 scores:


Message 7 of 40
mgood
Valued Contributor

Re: Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?


@phantasm wrote:

@mgood wrote:

@phantasm wrote:
I'd love to hear some other examples of generic travel cards and how they rank against the PenFed card. 

This may be an unpopular suggestion, but I'd say go watch YouTube. There are lots of comparisons of travel cards there.

I say it could be unpopular here becuase there is a lot of inaccurate information there and a lot of YouTubers get paid to promote certain cards. So just take their glowing reviews with a grain of salt. Probably not a whole lot of discussion of PenFed there, but there are many videos on Chase vs Amex vs whoever. You can get an idea of the pros and cons of various travel cards and compare those to what PenFed offers.


Yeah -- same reason why TPG, Forbes, and others aren't my first stop for unbiased comparisons. To me MyFico forums has been a bit of a gold mine, much better than r/creditcards. I also like DoctorofCredit but having others' unbiased opinions is the best.


You can learn a lot watching those vids. Just don't start believing that every word they speak is fact.



EQ8 769, TU8 766, EX8 765 as of July 21
AZE7 - 3% Utl - New Cards: 1/6, 3/12, 6/24
Message 8 of 40
Hoben02
Frequent Contributor

Re: Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?

What's lacking on that card is the value from transfer partners. Most of the transfer partners from the majors you should be able to get over one cent/point. 

Chase (CSP,CF,CFU,southwest premier)
Barclay(jetblue, arrival)
Bofa(US pride, premium, travel, cash, Suzy komen)
Citi(Premier, Double cash, Costco)
Fnbo(Mlife)
Amex(everyday, cash, Hilton)
Blockfi
Caesars rewards
Sofi
Gemini
Cap One Savor One
Message 9 of 40
longtimelurker
Epic Contributor

Re: Is there a better general travel card than PenFed Pathfinder?


@Hoben02 wrote:

What's lacking on that card is the value from transfer partners. Most of the transfer partners from the majors you should be able to get over one cent/point. 


Right, or even, in the case of say CSP, enhanced value in the portal, where points are worth 1.25c (and yes, arguments about whether the portals are the best value......)

 

Which is not to say the Penfed card isn't good for the right person.  It's more a cashback card with travel categories than a classic travel card (although global entry credit goes a little against that!)

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