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PenFed Credit Union mortgage review

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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.

Details

Loan types Conventional, Refinance, Jumbo, HELOC
Other minimum credits HomeReady: 620
Available States Available in all states

Pros

  • Available nationwide
  • Free 60-day rate lock
  • First-time home buyer options

Cons

  • No FHA or USDA loans
  • Branches are scattered
Reviews on Trustpilot for PenFed Credit Union are excellent. It holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), although it’s not accredited. 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.

What types of loans does PenFed Credit Union offer?

  • Conventional. It offers 15- and 30-year fixed-rate loans with interest rates as low as 3.125%. Down payments start at 5%.
  • VA. Qualified service members, veterans and surviving spouses can get a government-backed VA loan with a valid Certificate of Eligibility. Down payments as low as 0%.
  • Jumbo. Fixed loans for 15 and 30 years for up to $2 million with interest rates as low as 3.250%.

Other loans offered by PenFed Credit Union

  • Refinance. Fixed-rate mortgages with interest rates as low as 3.750%. Adjustable-rate mortgages may have an introductory rate as low as 3.375%. Cash-out refinancing replaces your existing home loan with a new, larger home loan.
  • 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.

PenFed Credit Union 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

PenFed Real Estate Rewards

PenFed offers a discount of 0.5% of your loan amount up to $20,000 when you use a PenFed affiliate real estate agent and preferred title provider for any fixed, VA or adjustable-rate loan.

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: 95% LTV
  • Home Ready program: 97% LTV
  • Jumbo loans: 90% LTV and combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratio
  • HELOC: 90% CLTV

Documentation

  • Last two to three years of W-2 forms and income tax returns
  • Last few months of pay stubs
  • If self-employed, proof of at least one year income
  • 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 you consistently pay your rent on time
  • Photo ID
  • Divorce decrees if you are divorced

How to get a home loan with PenFed Credit Union

  1. Go to PenFed Credit Union’s website.
  2. Hover over the Mortgage & Home Equity tab and click Mortgage Center.
  3. Click Apply Now.
  4. Click Pre-Approval.
  5. Answer whether you’re working with a realtor and basic loan questions about the price and kind of loan you’re looking for.
  6. Detail the property type and property use.
  7. Select whether you’ll be applying with a co-borrower.
  8. Fill out your personal information — for example, first and last name, phone number and Social Security number.
  9. Detail your employment and income.
  10. Fill in your current housing expenses — for example, whether you rent or own and how much you pay monthly.
  11. Accept or deny the Credit Authorization Agreement to pull your credit report.
  12. Review your application and click Submit. PenFed should contact you with a Loan Estimate within three business days.

Pros and cons of PenFed Credit Union

Pros

  • Available nationwide. PenFed serves all 50 states, including the DC, Guam, Puerto Rico and Okinawa.
  • Free 60-day rate lock. For most loans, PenFed locks your interest rate for 60 days. That means regardless if the rates go up or down, you’re locked in.
  • First-time home buyer options. Although PenFed doesn’t offer FHA loans, its First Time Buyer Advantage and HomeReady programs offer low down payments.

Cons

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

PenFed, also known as Pentagon Federal Credit Union, was established in 1935. Today it boasts 1.7 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.

Frequently asked questions

Expert review

Kimberly Ellis

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 has competitive interest rates with a free rate lock. Be wary if you prefer in-person customer service because branches are few and far between.

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