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Sounds weird, but there's a credit card that doesn't feel like making money off you.

Does it ever seem like credit cards are ridiculously complex? They often come with pages of rates and fees, and they have to know that no one will ever, ever read them.

Perhaps this is why some people just hate credit cards with such a passion. And why other people don’t use their cards to their own benefit.

Thankfully, there’s this one card I found that’s completely different than all of the others. In fact, the PenFed Promise Visa card is the simplest card that you’ll ever find.

What’s the Promise?

PenFed is short for the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which is a nonprofit institution that was created to serve members of the U.S. armed forces, other government and defense-related organizations, and their families.

But between you and me, anyone can join this credit union by signing up for what’s known as a “military support organization,” which requires a small, one-time fee. For example, you could join Voices For America’s Troops, which costs all of $17. Other MSOs range from the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation, Cell Phones For Soldiers, and Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America.

And once you are a member of PenFed, you can apply for the PenFed Promise card, which is the only credit card out there that charges no fees for anything. That means no annual fees, foreign transaction, fees, late fees, balance transfer fees, or even a penalty interest rate.

New applicants receive a promotional balance transfer rate of 4.99 percent for 12 months,  with no balance transfer fee. After that, the standard interest rate of 9.24 percent to 17.99 percent applies, based on your creditworthiness.  And even though it’s not a rewards card, you can still receive a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 within 90 days of your account opening.

How do they do it?

Every other credit card has a whole menu of fees, so how can PenFed get away without charging any? I’ve spoken with people from PenFed and asked them just that.

In response, they tell me that their mission is to provide services to their members , not to make a profit for their shareholders. Basically, Promise is their attempt to see how low they can set a credit card’s rates and fees without losing any money, profits be damned. It’s as if they can play by different rules than a regular bank. I’m sure that some banks even feel that PenFed is cheating, and this whole credit union thing is a little unfair to regular corporations.

Another way to look at the Promise card is that it’s a card for people who hate credit cards. Those who get tripped up by fees, and are angry at paying high interest rates will find this to be the most reasonable card out there — a kinder, gentler credit card, if you will.

So before you give up on credit cards as being too confusing and full of fees, take a look at the PenFed Promise. It may be everything you need from a credit card, but without the fees.

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Meet the Author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele


Steele is a freelance writer for and is an expert on credit cards.


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