PenFed Credit Union Personal Loans Review

PenFed makes buying a personal loan from a credit union easy — while still maintaining great customer service.

APR Range
6.49%-17.99%
Loan Amount
$500-$20,000
Term
6–60 months
SimpleScore
3.6 / 5.0
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SimpleScore PenFed 3.6
Rates 2
Loan Size 3
Transparency 5
Support 4
Fees 4
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Competitive rates
  • No origination fee
  • Must be a member to apply

Established in 1935, Pentagon Federal Credit Union has come a long way since its humble beginnings. PenFed is currently one of the nation’s most accessible financial institutions with 1.7 million members worldwide and in all 50 states. The credit union holds over $25 billion in assets, and they strive to “shape the future of banking” by offering a wide range of financial products aimed at consumers with various banking needs.

PenFed offers popular checking and savings accounts, mortgage and home equity loans, auto loans, credit cards, and more. However, some of their more notable products include their personal loans and lines of credit — both of which are geared toward consumers with excellent credit.

Check Your Personal Loan Rates

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. It’s quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

Get Started

with our trusted partners at Bankrate.com

In this article

    Before you take out a personal loan, it helps to understand what PenFed has to offer and how their products compare to other options on the market.

    PenFed personal loans at a glance

    • Borrow up to $25,000 with no origination fee or hidden fees.
    • Interest rates on their personal loans can be as low as 6.49% APR for qualified buyers.
    • Loan terms are available from 12 to 60 months.
    • Loans are available to PenFed members in all 50 states.
    • Your credit score must be in the mid-600’s or higher.
    • You must be a member of PenFed Credit Union to apply.

    PenFed personal loans: what you need to know

    No matter where you live in the United States, it’s possible to find the funding you need with a personal loan from PenFed Credit Union. You do have to become a member of the credit union to qualify, however. Fortunately, there are a few ways to qualify for membership. To become eligible, you can:

    • Be a member or employee of the U.S. military
    • Work for the U.S. government
    • Be a family member of military personnel or a U.S. government employee
    • Join Voice for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association, both of which are volunteer organizations, and make a minimum donation of $17.

    Fortunately, your membership can be completed online once you’ve taken steps to become eligible.

    If you can qualify for membership with PenFed Credit Union, you may find their personal loan terms attractive. While they don’t offer a specific minimum credit score requirement, they do maintain that their loans are available to consumers with credit scores in the mid-600’s or higher.

    The lowest interest rate PenFed offers on their personal loans — 6.49% APR — will go to those with very good or exceptional credit: consumers with credit scores of 740 or higher. However, even those with less than perfect credit — scores in the mid-600’s –may secure a decent rate. The highest interest rate available on PenFed Credit Union personal loans is only 17.99%. That’s significantly lower than the highest rate at many competitors in the personal loan space — even Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Citizens Bank. It’s rated as one of our top bad credit personal loan options.

    We also like the fact that PenFed Credit Union personal loans come without an origination fee or any hidden fees. This gives them a leg up over competing lenders who do charge origination fees, such as Lending Club, Best Egg, and Prosper.

    The bottom line: If you don’t need to borrow more than $25,000, you have good or excellent credit, and you are a member of PenFed Credit Union, you should consider taking out one of their personal loans if you need to borrow money. Not only can you score an interest rate as low as 6.49%, but you won’t pay any loan fees.

    As a side note, PenFed also offers a line of credit in amounts up to $25,000. This line of credit comes with a fixed interest rate of 14.65% APR, making it a much more expensive option for borrowers with good credit.

    PenFed Credit Union: what to watch out for

    While scoring a loan with a low interest rate and no origination fees is always a good deal, there are a few areas where PenFed Credit Union falls flat. The first problem is that fact that not everyone wants to take the extra steps to join a credit union — especially considering there are so many online lenders that offer personal loans with great rates.

    For that reason, these loans are probably best for consumers who already belong to PenFed. Even then, you may need to work with another lender if your borrowing needs are high. PenFed Credit Union only offers personal loans in amounts up to $25,000. If you need to borrow more than that, you’ll need to choose a lender with higher available loan amounts.

    The final downside of PenFed is that, unlike many of their competitors, they don’t allow you to get “pre-qualified” for one of their personal loans without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This means you’ll have to submit a full application to see what kind of rates you qualify for, and that’s only after you’ve taken steps to join PenFed if you aren’t a member already. For many borrowers who can easily get a loan elsewhere, the extra steps and hassle may not be worth it.

    Who PenFed Credit Union personal loans are best for:

    • PenFed Credit Union members who need to borrow less than $25,000.
    • Borrowers with excellent credit who can qualify for their lowest rates.
    • Anyone who wants a personal loan without an origination fee or any hidden fees.

    How to apply for a personal loan from PenFed Credit Union

    We already mentioned how you’re required to join PenFed Credit Union if you’re not already a member. If you haven’t taken steps to join just yet, you can access their membership application here.

    Once you’re a member, you can apply for a personal loan by completing a full loan application online. Information you’ll need to submit includes:

    • Your full name
    • Date of birth
    • Residential address
    • Social Security number
    • Employment details
    • Income information
    • Amount of loan requested
    • Purpose of loan
    • Identifying documents such as a driver’s license

    After your loan application has been completed, PenFed may be able to approve your loan in a matter of minutes. The lender also claims they can have your funds deposited in your bank account in a matter of a few business days.

    Check Your Personal Loan Rates

    Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. It’s quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

    Get Started

    with our trusted partners at Bankrate.com

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best personal loans of 2020.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for the same product from the same brand to have multiple SimpleScores. For instance, if we compare NetCredit’s personal loans according to our criteria for the best personal loans, it scores a 2.3 out of 5. But when we compare NetCredit according to the criteria for the best bad credit personal loans, it scores considerably higher, since the criteria for the latter review are more lenient (lenders who serve borrowers with bad credit will always offer higher rates, so we needed to adjust our category methodology to account for different industry standards).

    Questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

    Rates

    We looked at the maximum APR for each lender — the lower their maximum rate, the higher their score.

    Loan Size

    We awarded higher scores to lenders with more generous loan sizes.

    Customer Satisfaction

    We leveraged the J.D. Power 2019 Personal Loan Satisfaction Study℠ to see how customers rated their experience with each lender. (If a lender wasn’t included in J.D. Power’s study, we skipped this aspect and averaged the four remaining aspect scores.)

    Support

    We awarded higher scores to lenders with the most channels for customer support.

    Fees

    We looked at the three most common fees — origination, late payment, and pre-payment — and penalized lenders for each fee charged.

    Holly Johnson

    Contributing Writer

    Holly Johnson is a frugality expert and award-winning writer who is obsessed with personal finance and getting the most out of life. A lifelong resident of Indiana, she enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling the world with her husband and two children. In addition to The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for well-known publications such as U.S. News & World Report Travel, PolicyGenius, Travel Pulse, and Frugal Travel Guy. Holly also owns Club Thrifty.