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Navy Federal Credit Union mortgage review

The country’s largest credit union offers strong benefits for the military, but approvals can be slow

finder.com’s rating: 3.6 / 5.0

★★★★★

If you’re in the military now, have been in the past or are an immediate family member of someone who’s served, Navy Federal Credit Union could be a strong option to consider for your home loan needs. It offers a wide array of products and mortgages with 0% down and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

But getting these benefits can take time, and some say the approval process can be slow. Plus, Navy Federal Credit Union was caught up in a lawsuit in 2016 that’s worth taking into consideration as you narrow down your search for a lender.

Details

Loan products offeredConventional, Jumbo, VA, Refinance
Minimum credit scoreConventional: 620
Other loans: 580 or higher, depending on the loan type
Minimum down payment (Conventional)0%
State availabilityAvailable in all states
NMLS #399807

Our take on Navy Federal Credit Union

With its low and zero down payment home loans — many of which don’t require you to pay PMI — Navy Federal Credit Union is worth considering. A majority of customers give glowing reviews of the credit union, and its rate match guarantee ensures you’re getting the best rate available.

But while Navy Federal Credit Union has its share of negative reviews, mostly regarding a slow approval process, the most alarming is a recent lawsuit brought on by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In 2016, the CFPB ordered Navy Federal Credit Union to pay $28.5 million for making false threats about debt collection to its members and for unfairly restricting account access when members had a delinquent loan between 2013 and 2015.

Despite these actions, most customers have had great experiences with the credit union. All considered, we think it’s a strong option for most service members and their families.

Lending requirements are standard

Like any other credit union, you must be a member to apply for a mortgage. Navy Federal Credit Union membership is open to:

  • Active duty members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and Space Force
  • Individuals in the Delayed Entry Program
  • Department of Defense (DoD) Officer Candidate/ROTC
  • DoD Reservists
  • DoD civilian personnel
  • Veterans, retirees and annuitants
  • Military family members, including parents, grandparents, spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren and household members
  • Department of Defense civilians, including retirees and annuitants

Eligible applicants must meet standard mortgage requirements that include a low debt-to-income ratio and steady employment. Other requirements include:

  • Credit score of 580 or higher, depending on loan type; 740 or higher for strongest rates

Standout benefits

Navy Federal Credit Union offers FreedomLock, a rate lock program that allows you to relock your interest rate for a lower rate if interest rates go down within 60 days of your initial rate lock.

This lender also offers its RealtyPlus program and its rate match guarantee. With RealtyPlus, you can receive between $400 and $8,000 in cash back at closing if you buy or sell a home with a RealtyPlus agent. If you find a better rate with another lender, Navy Federal Credit Union will match it. If it can’t, it’ll give you $1,000 after you close with the competing lender.

This offer is available only for purchase and refinance first mortgages. While it isn’t completely unheard of for credit unions to match competitor’s rates on mortgages when members specifically ask, most credit unions don’t offer the type of guarantee like what Navy Federal Credit Union offers.

Fees are similar to competitors

Navy Federal Credit Union charges a 1% origination fee on the total loan amount on all its mortgages, which is in the 0.5% to 1% range typically charged by lenders. So for a $200,000 mortgage, an origination fee of 1% would be $2,000. Alternatively, some lenders charge a flat origination fee regardless of the loan’s total amount.

We see a lot of lenders charging flat origination fees of around $1,200, though it varies by lender. Considering the same $200,000 from the previous example, you can see how a flat origination fee can sometimes save you money. Calculating the cost of your mortgage is an important step when comparing lenders.

Navy Federal Credit Union does, however, offer the chance to waive the origination fee if you agree to pay 0.25% more on the interest rate. In addition, all “Choice” loans are subject to a 1.75% funding fee. But this too can be waived if you agree to pay an additional 0.375% increase in your interest rate.

Lender reviews are positive

Member reviews for Navy Federal Credit Union on Trustpilot are overwhelmingly positive. Reviewers there have rated the credit union 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 4,748 reviews as of July 2021. Most customers commend the credit union for its empathetic, respectful and first-class customer service. Others say they received loans through Navy Federal that they wouldn’t have been approved for elsewhere.

Over on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), it’s a bit of a different story. Navy Federal Credit Union isn’t accredited, and it’s rated 1.21 out of 5 stars based on 133 reviews. In the last three years, the credit union closed 903 complaints. Negative reviews range from complaints about being denied for personal loans to closing credit cards without notice to long approval processes.

All things considered, Navy Federal Credit Union comes out near the top when compared to other lenders. Its customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive, which is more than you can say about some other lenders on the market.

7 steps to getting a mortgage with Navy Federal Credit Union

You must first become a member of Navy Federal Credit Union to apply for a mortgage. This is a simple process and takes just a few minutes to complete. To become a member:

  1. Visit Navy Federal Credit Union’s website, select Membership from the navigation menu, then select Become a Member.
  2. Select Join, then provide information to determine your eligibility.
  3. Make your way through the application, entering any necessary personal information along the way.
  4. Choose how you want to make your initial deposit. A minimum of $5 is required to purchase one share to become a member. You can transfer funds from a checking account, use a credit or debit card or mail a check.
  5. Agree to the terms and conditions and select Continue.
  6. Review and submit your membership application.
  7. Submit your mortgage application once your membership is approved.

Navy Federal Credit Union has a program called HomeSquad to help you through the mortgage application process. HomeSquad allows you to upload your loan documents, connect your bank accounts to verify your assets, track your application’s status and get updates when you hit milestones.

According to its website, it typically takes 30 days to close on your mortgage once you’ve submitted all required paperwork and documents.

Documents you’ll need

When applying for a home loan, you’ll submit standard personal and financial details:

  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Navy Federal Share Savings account number
  • Two-year address history
  • Two-year work history
  • Gross monthly and other income
  • Deposit accounts and asset information
  • Current tax, homeowners/condo dues, insurance and lien information

Navy Federal Credit Union’s loan options are standard

Despite being a military-focused credit union, Navy Federal Credit Union offers more than just VA loans. Members also have access to conventional and jumbo mortgages, plus options for refinancing.

Navy Federal offers several specialized loans

Navy Federal offers additional loans that members can take advantage of.

  • Military Choice. A good option for service members who have already exhausted their VA loan benefit, this program requires no down payment and no PMI.
  • Homebuyers Choice. Finance 100% of your mortgage with no PMI required — potentially a good choice for first-time homebuyers.
  • Second-home financing. The property must be a one-unit home that you occupy for a portion of the year.
  • Investment property loans. Residential investment property financing using a 15-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage.

Alternatives to Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal isn’t the only option for current and former military members and their families.

Though its mortgage options are much more limited, offering only VA loans, USAA stands out from other lenders by not charging any sort of origination fee. But unlike Navy Federal Credit Union, customers have had largely negative experiences with USAA.

For borrowers without any military or DoD affiliation who need low down payment options, Morty offers conventional and jumbo loans with down payments as low as 3%. Plus, it doesn’t charge origination or underwriting fees.ç

Compare these lenders and lender marketplaces by the type of home loan you’re searching for, state availability and minimum credit score (for a conventional loan). Select See rates to provide the company with basic property and financial details for personalized rates.

Name Product Loan products offered State availability Min. credit score
Morty
(NMLS #1429243)
Morty
Conventional, Jumbo, Refinance
AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, ME, MI, MN, MS, MT, NC, NE, NJ, NM, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, VA, WA, WI, WV
660
Preapproval in minutes and closing in as little as 3 weeks with no origination fees.
SoFi
(NMLS #1121636)
SoFi
Conventional, Home equity, Refinance
Not available in: HI, MO, NM, NY, WV
620
No hidden fees, multiple loan terms, and member discounts available.
Rocket Mortgage
(NMLS #3030)
Rocket Mortgage
Conventional, Jumbo, FHA, VA, Refinance
Available in all states
620
Streamline your mortgage from quote to final payment — all from your computer or phone.
Better
(NMLS #330511)
Better
Conventional, Jumbo, FHA, Refinance
Not available in: HI, MA, MN, NV, NH, VT, VA
620
Online preapproval in minutes and no origination fees with this direct lender.
LendingTree
(NMLS #1136)
LendingTree
Conventional, Jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, Home Equity, HELOC, Reverse, Refinance
Available in all states
620
Connect with vetted home loan lenders quickly through this online marketplace.
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Compare up to 4 providers

6 benefits to using Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union offers plenty of perks to eligible members: a variety of mortgage products, several 0% down and no PMI options and unique programs that help the credit union stand out from the crowd.

  • 0% down and no PMI. Navy Federal Credit Union offers mortgages with no down payment and no PMI.
  • RealtyPlus. Buy or sell a home with a RealtyPlus agent, and you can receive $400 to $8,000 in cash back after you close.
  • Rate match guarantee. Navy Federal Credit Union will match a competitor’s better rate, or it’ll give you $1,000 after you close with the competing lender.
  • Freedom lock. New applicants of purchase and refinance loans have the chance to relock their rate within 60 days at a lower rate and at no additional fee.
  • Rate and fee transparency. Navy Federal Credit Union publishes its mortgage rates online and updates them daily. Its publicly available rates and fees sheet can be helpful for borrowers comparing lenders.
  • Favorable customer reviews. Out of the thousands of reviews left by customers online, a majority are overwhelmingly positive.

2 drawbacks to using Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union won’t be perfect for everyone. But there are two main downsides to going with this credit union as your mortgage provider.

  • Lengthy approval process. While customer reviews are mainly positive, customers have repeatedly complained about the credit union’s approval process taking longer than expected.
  • Fined $28.5 million by the Consumer Financial Services Bureau. In 2016, the CFPB ordered Navy Federal Credit Union to pay $28.5 million for making false threats about debt collection to its members and unfairly restricting account access when members had a delinquent loan between 2013 and 2015.

Fast facts about Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Based in Vienna, Virginia, Navy Federal Credit Union began with seven members in 1933 and has since grown to serve more than 10 million members.
  • Navy Federal Credit Union manages more than $135 billion in assets as of 2020 and is the largest credit union in the United States by number of members and size of assets. As an established credit union, customers benefit not only from widespread ATM and branch access and a range of financial services but also the peace of mind knowing it’s less likely to fail.

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