Apply for a personal loan through a credit union for competitive interest rates
You may need extra money for consolidating your debt, going on a vacation, repairing your home or relocating. You can take out a personal loan to cover all of these costs. These loans are usually unsecured, but some lenders provide deposit-secured personal loans.
You can get a personal loan from a traditional bank, online lender, peer-to-peer lender or a credit union. Choosing credit union may save you money. This guide will tell you how.
What is a credit union?
Credit unions are financial institutions that offer the same products as traditional banks, but differ in the sense that they are nonprofit organizations owned by all of its members and not just a small group of owners. Credit unions have a strong focus on their community of members and use a democratic approach. Members get to elect a board of directors who provide general oversight of keeping the best interest for the credit union’s members. Because credit unions are nonprofit, the earnings are put back into the members pockets in the form of lower interest rates, reduced fees and typically better terms for their offered financial products.
How is a personal loan from a credit union different from any other type of personal loan?
The main difference between a credit union and most other kinds of lending institutions is that a credit union does not function with the intention of generating profits for its shareholders. Instead, credit unions pass profits on to their members. This is why credit unions are able to offer competitive rates and charge lower fees compared to conventional lenders.
Before you get a personal loan from a credit union you’ll have to become a member. Some credit unions offer membership to limited groups of people, so be sure to check if you qualify.
Compare personal loans from some of the largest credit unions
Use this table to compare loan amounts, interest rates and eligibility requirements of top credit unions.
|Credit union||Who’s eligible||Starting APR||Max loan amount||Other loan types offered|
|Navy Federal Credit Union||You must be 18 years or older, have a photo ID, provide income verification, show proof of residency and must have been affiliated with the Armed Forces, Department of Defense Coast Guard or National Guard. Immediate family members are eligible as well.||6.99%||$50,000||Mortgages, home equity loans, auto loans, leisure vehicle loans and student loans|
|PenFed Credit Union||You must be 18 years or older, have a photo ID, provide income verification, show proof of residency and must have been in any branch of the US Military or an employee of the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security or be affiliated with an eligible military association.||9.99%||$25,000||Mortgages, home equity loans, auto loans, leisure vehicle loans and student loans.|
|San Diego County Credit Union||You must be 18 years or older, have a photo ID, provide income verification and show proof of residency in San Diego, Riverside or Orange County in California. If you don’t live in these areas, you can still apply through the Financial Fitness Association.||5%||$20,000||Mortgages, home equity loans and auto loans.|
|Teachers Federal Credit Union||You must be 18 years or older, have a photo ID, provide income verification and show proof of residency in Nassau County or Suffolk County in New York.||5%||$20,000||Mortgages, home equity loans, auto loans, leisure vehicle loans and student loans.|
|State Employees Federal Credit Union||You must be 18 years or older, have a photo ID, provide income verification and show proof of residency in select areas of New York||6.24%||$30,000||Mortgages, home equity loans, auto loans, leisure vehicle loans and student loans.|
How do I compare personal loans from credit unions?
Many credit unions across the US provide personal loans to their members. These loans can vary across different parameters, such as:
- Interest rates. Your credit score has an effect on the annual percentage rate (APR) you’ll pay on the money you borrow. This rate will vary at across lenders. The APR has a major effect how much you end up repaying, especially if you borrow a significant amount.
- Fees. Credit Unions tend to keep their fees to a minimum. However, this does not mean that they don’t charge any fees. Take time to review how much you’ll have to pay if you make late payments or if payments fail to go through because of insufficient funds in your account.
- Loan amount and term. The minimum and maximum amount you can borrow can vary from one credit union to the next. This also holds true when it comes to the loan term.
- Extra repayments. By making extra repayments or repaying your loan early you can save on interest charges. In some cases you may have to pay additional fees or penalties, so be sure to check with your lender before making extra payments.
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Pros and cons of credit union personal loans
- Competitive rates. Since credit unions don’t operate with the motive of generating profits, they’re able offer competitive interest rates. Credit unions also charge lower fees in comparison to conventional banks.
- Use funds for any purpose. What you do with the funds you get through a credit union personal loan is basically up to you, provided you use the money for legitimate purposes.
- Bad credit loans. Some credit loans offer personal loans to individuals with poor credit. Applying for such loans may require that you apply with a qualified co-borrower or that you to provide some kind of collateral.
- Nonprofit. Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions. Unlike banks, any earnings a credit union sees are redistributed to its members in the form of small dividends, low interest rates, smaller fees and other perks.
- Membership. Applying for a personal loan through a credit union requires that you start by becoming a member. You may have to pay a nominal minimum deposit along with a membership fee.
- Less choice. You have less choice if you limit your selection to only personal loans from credit unions.
Important things to consider before you apply
The APRs on personal loans are often higher than secured loan rates. If you’re able to provide some kind of collateral you may want to consider getting a secured loan. Your creditworthiness affects the APR you are offered, so if you have a poor credit rating you may want to postpone your plan of getting a loan until you repair your credit.
If you feel you might have problems in making timely repayments, it’s important to consider how a personal loan would fit into your budget. Making late payments will have you paying additional fees and can damage your credit.
What do I need to apply for a credit union personal loan?
To get a personal loan from a credit union, you first need to become a member. Each credit union has different stipulations for joining, this is called the field of membership. Eligibility can be determined by many factors – where you live, your employer, your family and any sort of activity within the community where the credit union operates. Once you’re a member, there will be certain requirements when applying for a personal loan, such as:
- Personal identification. Driver’s license, state identification card, Social Security card or passport.
- Personal details. Verification of address with either a copy of a lease or any recent utility or credit card bills. Also, proof of past or current income with W-2s, recent pay stubs or bank statements.