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My Two New Credit Cards – PenFed Visa and Citi Forward Visa

Okay, so I might have gone a little rewards-card-crazy, but I think I’m finally happy with my wallet by adding the PenFed Visa and the Citi Forward Visa.

As you may know, I love using rewards credit cards for all our normal bills and paying them off at the end of the month.  By doing this, we usually get back $200-$300 every year in cash and gift cards.  It’s a great idea for anyone who won’t go credit crazy and rack up debt.

Well, I wasn’t happy with the returns I was getting on two of our cards, so I replaced them last month.  Now we seem to be averaging 2-5% cash back on the majority of our purchases and at least 1% on everything else.

We could have made that more by getting a Fidelity Retirement Rewards Card that would give 2% on absolutely everything and put in in our Roth IRA, but that seemed boring.  We made the choice to go with cards that we could use to get gift cards to places we enjoy or cold hard cash.  Yes, that is not the financially sound decision, but we want our “rewards” to be fun.  🙂

None of these cards have an annual fee and I’m only disclosing the APR’s for informational purposes – we don’t carry a balance, so I looked them up just for you.  Please keep in mind, these APR’s are based on an “Excellent” credit rating and just get worse from here.

What Credit Cards We Were Using

Discover More

  • 5% cash back on rotating categories every 3 months and 1% on everything else after you spend at least $3000 each year.
  • We use the cash back rewards to buy gift cards at a discount – like a $25 Bath and Body Works card for $20 or a $50 Starbucks card for $45.
  • Our APR is 12.99%.

Discover Open Road

  • Was 5% cash back on up to $250 a month of gas and car-related expenses and 1% on everything else after you spend at least $3000 each year when I signed up in 2008.
  • BUT it changed to 2% cash back on up to $250 a month for gas and restaurant purchases as the main deal.  Yucky!
  • Our APR is 13.99%.

Bank of America World Mastercard

  • 1 point for every dollar spent, which meant 1% cash back after every $25,000.
  • I never liked this card but only used it as a backup if a place didn’t take Discover.
  • Our APR is 10.9%.

What Credit Cards We Are Using Now

PenFed (Pentagon Federal Credit Union) Visa

(It’s the second one on the linked page)

  • 5% cash back on gas, 2% on groceries, and 1% on everything else.
  • Your bonus is applied at the end of every billing cycle automatically.
  • You’ll need to become a PenFed member, which means you will need to meet one of these criteria and make a $5 deposit to your account.
  • We chose to join the National Military Family Association for $20.  You do not need to renew that annual membership to keep the account.
  • The only drawback in my opinion is there is a few things of paperwork you have to sign and send back to get everything going…I hate extra stuff to do.
  • There is a fee if you don’t sign up for paperless statements, but I’m a fan anyway.
  • Our APR is 13.99%.
  • I’d rate their online website as a 7 out of 10 for usability.

Discover More

  • 5% cash back on rotating categories every 3 months and 1% on everything else after you spend at least $3000 each year.
  • We use the cash back rewards to buy gift cards at a discount – like a $25 Bath and Body Works card for $20 or a $50 Starbucks card for $45.
  • Our APR is 12.99%.
  • I’d rate their online website as a 10 out of 10 for usability.

Citi Forward Visa

  • 5 points for every dollar spent for dining, books (including Amazon), and movies (including rentals) and 1 point for everything else.
  • They also give you 6000 points for making at least $250 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • You also can get 2500 points for signing up for paperless statements within the first 3 months.
  • You will get 100 points every billing cycle for paying on time and staying under your limit.
  • They also reduce your APR 0.25% (up to a total of 2%) for paying on time and staying under your limit 3 months in a row. We don’t care since we don’t carry balances, but it is good to know.
  • The points are redeemable for cash back, gift cards, and merchandise, but based on the return, I’d only use them for gift cards. It seems to work out to getting 4%-5% back on dining, books, and movies and 0.75%-1% on everything else.
  • Our APR is apparently 0%…I didn’t know that until I checked our statement, so apparently there is a sign-up special.  🙂
  • I’d rate their online website as a 5 out of 10 for usability.

We’ve had these cards for one month and already received $5.71 cash back on the PenFed Visa for our gas and groceries and 11,214 points on the Citi Forward Visa since we paid the last grad school payment and signed up for paperless statements.  It will probably net us about 400 points a month from here on out.

Well, if anybody here was looking for a little change, I hope this helps!  I am in no way profiting from this post…I even grabbed the links to the cards by Googling them.  I just switched and thought this info might help anyone who’s thinking about changing their cards too.

Do you have any other great rewards cards suggestions?



FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 a year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, a rental home, and professional pet sitting.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you).  I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. This all gives me the time to be with my aging family members, the flexibility to stay close with my friends and family, and it should help if we finally get pregnant too!  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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16 thoughts on “My Two New Credit Cards – PenFed Visa and Citi Forward Visa

  1. I’ve never gotten into the whole “finding the best rewards card” game mostly because we already have a decent rewards card. Our National City (now PNC bank technically) rewards card gives us 4% back on gas, 3% on movies and rentals, and 2% or1% on everything else. We usually get at least two checks every year so I am not going to complain!

    Too bad we do not go to the movies more often…we might get more rewards! But I do not think that would make up for the cost.

  2. Rob, it’s probably best if you don’t get sucked into the rewards card game…it’s a waste of brain power. I just can’t help it.

    We don’t go to the movies very often at all, but the Citi Forward works well for my husband’s grad school books from Amazon, our Netflix membership, and the couple of Redbox rentals we have every few months.

  3. Well I should have read this post earlier this morning! I just canceled one of my crappy cards with an annual fee and was approved for a USAA AMEX. I will now receive points that I can use towards rewards or cash back refunds. I like the sound of your PenFed Visa card. Based on your description, it has a lot of rewards.

  4. Little House, if it makes you feel any better, PenFed does believe in paperwork, lol. It was SO much easier to get and activate every other credit card I have ever had. I just really wanted the cash back, lol.

  5. We love reward cards too! I’ve primarily been using the Citi Preferred Diamond card…

    The Key it to always pay off the card every month! I can’t remember a time when I haven’t. Well, except for a best buy charge, but it was a 0% for 12 month deal, so I didn’t pay any interest on it which is what we are really trying to avoid by paying it off per month…

    Congrats on your new cards!

  6. Thank you for this post. I am in the market for a new credit card and will take a closer look at the Pentagon one when my eyes are not burning (I need to sleep)!

    5% Cash back on Gas is amazing considering I drive about an hour and half round trip every day for work and fill up at least once a week.

    Thanks for the sum up, very concise and helped me out a lot! 🙂

  7. Money Reasons, I hadn’t heard of the Citi Preferred Diamond…what kind of rewards does it have? Oh, and we’ve taken 0% interest deals too…as long as you pay it off, it’s a free loan! You can’t beat a free loan for something you were going to buy anyway!

  8. myfinancialobjectives, awesome! I love knowing when I actually helped!

    I love the gas rewards and the grocery awards…between the two, it’s at least $400 – $500 a month. That will get us back at least $180 a year, woot!

    Sleep well fellow commuter!

  9. We definitely need to go through and do this sometime. Our Citicards’ rewards keep diminishing and Citicards keeps messing up in various ways.

    We were going to go with Chase’s rewards card, but then we got lazy and I don’t think it’s open to new customers anymore. We’ll do some of the research and then not act and we’re back to our regular Citicards.

    I’ve never really liked the points cards because they always seem to be changing up what a “point” actually buys. I like the idea of cash rewards, but even then they can reduce those. On the plus side, the reduction is always pretty obvious.

  10. Nicole, yeah, I love Discover because it’s obviously cash back with extra benefit of buying gift cards at a discount if you want to. PenFed was pretty cool this month too…straight-up money off the bill and it came to exactly what it was supposed to based on my calculations.

    Oh, I understand lazy. I hate Chase and have been saying that we’ll switch banks for about 8 months now…

  11. Rob, we don’t get rewards checks, but I just got the gift cards I ordered with the cash back bonus I had from the Discover Open Road card, woot! $75 in gift cards for $60. 🙂

    Now I just have to let the remaining $4.33 go…try not to think about it…oh well…

  12. @Daniel, no, I have not broken my bill down like that person did, so I’m probably wrong. Cool beans, thanks! I’ll take that out of my post as well. 🙂

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