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PenFed Credit Union mortgage review

A federal credit union with low down-payment options.

PenFed Credit Union specializes in home loans for those in the military and US government employees. It offers a variety of loan options for first-time homebuyers — but it’ll be hard to find a branch in most states.

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Details

Loan products offeredConventional, Jumbo, VA, HELOC, Refinance
Minimum credit scoreConventional - 620
Minimum down payment (Conventional)3%
State availabilityAvailable in all states
NMLS #401822

PenFed Credit Union Requirements

You need to be a PenFed Credit Union member to apply for a home loan. Loan-to-value requirements vary depending on which loan you apply for:

  • Conventional: 97% LTV
  • Home Ready program: 97% LTV
  • Jumbo loans: 90% LTV and combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratio
  • HELOC: 90% CLTV

Documentation

You’ll want to have the following information ready before you apply:

  • Last two to three years of W-2 forms and income tax returns
  • Last few months of pay stubs or proof of at least one year of income if self-employed
  • List of debts and assets, like credit card statements, loans, checking and savings accounts
  • Mortgage balance statement if you own a home
  • Canceled checks and bank statements that show punctual rent payments
  • Photo ID

Costs and fees

According to PenFed Credit Union, the borrower is responsible for the following fees due at closing:

  • Appraisal fee
  • Application fee or computerized loan origination (CLO) access fee, if applicable
  • Tax service fee
  • Title fees
  • Transfer tax fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Flood certification fee
  • Recording fee
  • Work verification fee
  • Survey fee for some loans
  • VA funding fee for VA loans

How to apply for a mortgage with PenFed Credit Union

Start your application online.

  1. Go to PenFed Credit Union’s website, hover over the Mortgage & Home Equity tab and select Mortgage Center.
  2. Choose Start Online and either fill out a form to get a call from a PenFed loan officer or select Pre-Approval to start your application.
  3. Hit Start Request and enter information to create an account.
  4. Answer basic questions about you and the property you want to purchase.
  5. Accept or deny the Credit Authorization Agreement to pull your credit report.
  6. Detail your employment, income and expenses, then answer the declaration questions.
  7. Review your application and select Submit. PenFed should contact you with a Loan Estimate within three business days.

What types of mortgages can I get through PenFed Credit Union?

  • Conventional
  • FHA
  • VA
  • USDA
  • Jumbo
This company accepts mortgage refinance applications.

Other mortgage products offered by PenFed Credit Union

PenFed also offers a few specialized loans.

  • Refinance. This lender offers rate-and-term refinance loans, cash-out refinancing and the VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan (IRRRL).
  • HELOC. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) lets you borrow up to $500,000 against the equity in your home. PenFed pays most closing costs on a HELOC.
  • First Time Home Buyer Advantage. Buyers can pay as low as 3% for a down payment, with an optional job loss protection benefit called MortgageAssure. This program has no origination fee.
  • HomeReady. This Fannie Mae initiative offers flexible underwriting for unique situations and is for borrowers with a credit score of at least 620. Its low 3.3% down payments aren’t limited to first-time home buyers.

How PenFed Credit Union’s mortgage products compare to other lenders

PenFed offers a variety of loans similar to what you might find in most credit unions of its size. While this lender lacks an FHA loan offering, it provides loans with similar requirements and benefits.

PenFed offers a lender credit to members at closing on their fixed-rate, ARM or VA loans. The credit ranges from $500 for loans up to $199,999, $1,000 for loans between $200,000 and $699,999, and $2,500 for loans $700,000 and up.

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PenFed Credit Union reviews and complaints

Reviews on Trustpilot for PenFed Credit Union are excellent. As of May 2021, the lender has 155 reviews and a TrustScore of 4.6 stars out of 5. It holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for closing 316 complaints over the past three years, although it’s not accredited. PenFed scores 1.19 stars out of 5 with 96 BBB customer reviews.

Most complaints surround hiccups in the loan process — such as its inefficient online access and issues with fixing mistakes in an application. But PenFed makes an effort to respond to complaints, trying to work with customers on a solution. And some customers praise PenFed for its competitive rates.

Pros and cons of PenFed Credit Union

Pros

  • Available nationwide. PenFed serves all 50 states, plus Washington DC, Guam, Puerto Rico and Okinawa, Japan.
  • Free 60-day rate lock. For most loans, PenFed locks your interest rate for 60 days. That means you’re locked in regardless if the rates go up or down.
  • First-time home buyer options. Although PenFed doesn’t offer FHA loans, its First Time Buyer Advantage and HomeReady programs offer low down payments.
  • Open membership. Where previously PenFed membership was limited to members of the military and affiliate organization, the lender has opened its membership to anyone willing to open a $5 share account.

Cons

  • No FHA or USDA loans. Look elsewhere for these government-backed loans.
  • Branches are scattered. PenFed Credit Union doesn’t have branches in every state. It may be difficult to find in-person customer support, depending on where you live.

What is PenFed Credit Union?

PenFed, also known as Pentagon Federal Credit Union, was established in 1935. Today it boasts 2 million members worldwide, with $25 billion in assets. PenFed is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and offers banking services, auto loans, credit cards and retirement accounts.

Review by


Kimberly Ellis is a writer at Finder. She hails from New York City with a BA from Queens College and a New York State teaching certificate. After teaching in both public and private schools, Kimberly decided to take the world by storm and dive into the media industry — where she covers everything from home loans and investing to K–12 education and shopping. She’s also an aspiring polyglot, always in a book and forever on the hunt for the perfect classic red lipstick.

Expert review

PenFed Credit Union is a good option if you serve in the military, work for the US government or are a first-time homebuyer. It offers a free 60-day rate lock and a lender credit to put money back in your pocket at closing. But if you prefer in-person customer service, you may not find a PenFed physical branch in your area.

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