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–$20K
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.

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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

    APR6.49%–17.99%
    FeesNo origination fee, application fee or hidden fees
    Eligibility requirementsBorrowers must become a PenFed member
    Best forPenFed members
    Not forPeople who want to borrow over $20K
    Contact PenFed customer service1-800-247-5626 Secure upload centerSend a message
    Standout featureFast funding — according to PenFed, you could have the funds within 24 hours

    What we like about PenFed

    Available in all 50 states

    Many credit unions are regional, meaning only individuals in certain cities, states or parts of the country are eligible to use its products. But PedFed is available in all 50 states, so your location won’t hold you back from a personal loan.

    Competitive rates

    PenFed offers some of the most competitive rates on the market, with APRs from 6.49%–17.99% for a personal loan. Depending on your lender, rates can often start out at 10% APR.

    No origination fee

    PenFed doesn’t charge an origination fee on its personal loans, meaning you may pay less overall than you would from another lender. The company also promises that there will be no hidden fees in your loan terms.

    [ Read: How Personal Loans Work ]

    Things to consider

    Must be a member to apply

    Like many other credit unions, PenFed requires that you become a member before you can borrow money. You can apply without being a member but must join to finalize the deal.

    However, membership is relatively easy to achieve. You simply have to apply and fund an account with as little as $5. PenFed membership requirements used to be limited to government employees and military members, but the credit union has since changed its requirements.

    How to qualify for a PenFed personal loan

    PenFed has an easy application process that allows you to apply online and, if you qualify and agree to the loan terms, get your money within 24 hours. To get started, just follow these steps:

    1. Join the credit union. PenFed requires borrowers to become a member of the credit union before they can finalize a loan.
    2. Fill out the personal loan online application. You’ll have to provide details such as your personal information, the reason for the loan, the desired loan amount and repayment terms. To qualify for a PenFed personal loan, you must borrow between $500 and $20,000 with terms between 6 and 60 months.
    3. Wait for your loan approval. For borrowers with good credit, you might get a decision in just a few minutes.
    4. Finalize the loan and receive your money. According to PenFed, you could receive your money within 24 hours.

    Keep in mind that membership to the credit union isn’t the only bar you’ll have to reach to get a personal loan. When you apply for your loan, PenFed will run a credit check to ensure your credit score falls within their requirements. They generally require borrowers to have a score in the mid-600s or higher. Depending on your credit score, you may have to provide proof of your income before you can qualify.

    [ Read: Is a Personal Loan My Best Option? ]

    PenFed Credit Union personal loans vs. the competition

    SoFi

    SoFi is one of the most well-known online lenders. The company was founded in 2011, originally to provide student loans and student loan refinancing. It has since expanded to include loans of all kinds.

    APR Range
    4.99% to 19.63% w/AutoPay
    Loan Amount
    $5K–$100K
    Term
    24–84 months
    SimpleScore
    4.6 / 5.0
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    SimpleScore SoFi 4.6
    Rates 5
    Loan Size 5
    Customer Satisfaction 3
    Support 5
    Fees 5

    Because SoFi is not a credit union, it doesn’t have membership requirements like PenFed does. Instead, you just have to meet its loan requirements. SoFi personal loans have APRs from 5.99%–19.63%, with no origination fee — this is lower than PenFed’s starting rate. SoFi also offers personal loans of up to $100,000, so you can borrow a lot more money than most lenders. To learn more, read our full SoFi personal loan review.

    SoFi Disclosure

    Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 19.63% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of July 30, 2021 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

    USAA

    Like PenFed, USAA is a credit union with membership limited to military veterans, service members and their families. Furthermore, USAA’s membership is more restrictive than PenFed’s — PenFed recently opened up membership to the general public.

    APR Range
    up to 18.00%
    Loan Amount
    $2,500–$5K
    Term
    12–84 months
    SimpleScore
    4.8 / 5.0
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    SimpleScore USAA 4.8
    Rates 5
    Loan Size 5
    Customer Satisfaction 5
    Support 5
    Fees 4

    USAA’s loan terms aren’t as favorable as PenFed’s. USAA offers a higher starting APR, and loans can only go up to $5,000. Given these terms and the stricter membership requirements, most people would probably be better off with a loan from PenFed. To learn more about its loan offerings, read our full USAA personal loan review.

    Best Egg

    Founded in 2014, Best Egg offers lower starting rates than PenFed. Its personal loan rates range from 5.99%–29.99%. However, Best Egg charges an origination fee of 4.99%. So depending on the amount you’re borrowing, your loan may end up being more expensive.

    APR Range
    5.99%–29.99%
    Loan Amount
    $2K–$35K
    Term
    3–5 years
    SimpleScore
    3.8 / 5.0
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    SimpleScore Best Egg 3.8
    Rates 4
    Loan Size 5
    Customer Satisfaction N/A
    Support 3
    Fees 3

    That being said, Best Egg might still be a better choice for some people. Unlike credit unions like USAA, Best Egg doesn’t have membership requirements. And loan amounts are $2,000–$35,000, making it a better choice for some borrowers. Read our full Best Egg personal loan review to learn more.

    Best Egg Disclosure

    Best Egg loans are unsecured personal loans made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. “Best Egg” is a trademark of Marlette Funding LLC. All uses of “Best Egg” on this site mean and shall refer to “the Best Egg personal loan” and/or “Best Egg on behalf of Cross River Bank, as originator of the Best Egg personal loan,” as applicable. Loan amounts generally range from $2,000-$35,000. Offers up to $50,000 may be available for qualified customers who receive offer codes in the mail. The minimum individual annual income needed to qualify for a loan of $50,000 is $130,000. Borrowers may hold no more than two open Best Egg loans at any given time. In order to be eligible for a second Best Egg loan, your existing Best Egg loan must have been open for at least six months. Total existing Best Egg loan balances must not exceed $50,000. All loans in MA must exceed $6,500; in NM and OH must exceed $5,000; in GA must exceed $3,000.

    How much does a PenFed personal loan cost?

    One of the biggest perks of a PenFed personal loan is that the company doesn’t charge an application fee or origination fee and promises not to include any hidden fees in your contract. As a result, your loan may cost less overall than it would from another lender. Another way PenFed helps to reduce costs is by not charging an early payoff penalty.

    To figure out how much your specific loan will cost, consider your total loan amount, your APR, and how quickly you expect to pay off the loan. You can use a loan payment calculator to help you get a better idea of what your loan will cost.

    Can I refinance a personal loan with PenFed?

    PenFed doesn’t require any sort of collateral, and it allows you to use a personal loan for any purpose. As a result, you’ll likely be able to refinance an existing loan by applying for a new personal loan or use a PenFed personal loan to consolidate debt. Be sure to check your loan terms to confirm you can refinance, and shop around to see if you can get a better rate with another lender.

    [ Read: Secured Personal Loans vs. Unsecured Personal Loans ]

    Cheaper alternatives to PenFed personal loans

    PenFed offers some of the most competitive interest rates on the market for personal loans, and it doesn’t charge application or origination fees. As a result, PedFed’s personal loans are likely to be some of the most affordable on the market. However, some online lenders such as SoFi and Best Egg offer lower starting rates on personal loans. Best Egg does charge an origination fee, so depending on the amount of the loan, you may or may not save money. But SoFi doesn’t charge an origination fee, so you might be able to save even more.

    PenFed Credit Union in the news

    • In October 2020, PenFed Credit Union announced that it would be acquiring the Long Island organization Sperry Associates Federal Credit Union. The merger was approved in September 2020 and is expected to be completed by December 1, 2020. PenFed will acquire Sperry Associates’ $265.4 million in assets.
    • In addition to its work providing financial products to its members, PenFed Credit Union also engages in fundraising and charity efforts. In September 2020, PenFed announced it would be donating 500 laptops valued at more than $125,000 to support the education of children of military members.
    • PenFed Credit Union received some negative media attention in early 2019 when it acquired a small credit union. PenFed, one of the largest credit unions in the nation, has acquired a number of smaller organizations over the years. In this case, some saw it as a large credit union trampling over smaller ones to gain more of the market share and eliminate competitors.

    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

    We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the personal loans we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

    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.

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Loans Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, and elsewhere.