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PenFed HELOC review

Enjoy a low intro rate for the first six months, but watch out for potential annual fees.

This nationwide credit union offers home equity lines of credit from $25,000 up to $1 million with generally low APRs. They also help cover the majority of your closing costs, but watch out for fees and early closing penalties.

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Details

Loan products offeredHELOC
Minimum credit score660
APR range0.99% intro rate for six months, then 3.75% to 8%; up to 18% for fixed-rate
Repayment termsDraw: 10 years
Repayment: 20 years
Loan limits$25,000 to $1 million
State availabilityAvailable in all states

Our take on PenFed’s HELOC

PenFed requires a membership to use its products — but requirements are loose and its HELOC could be worth the extra step.

The PenFed HELOC offers competitive interest rates and a wide range of borrowing limits reaching up to $1 million. This sets up a nice product for customers looking to borrow a lot of money. But if you want to avoid added costs, an appraisal fee and the potential for annual fees, you may want to look into other options.

PenFed HELOC pros and cons

Pros

  • Competitive APR range. Doesn’t exceed 18% if you switch to a fixed-rate option.
  • Fixed-rate option. Lock in up to three separate fixed-rate advances at any one time (minimum of $10,000 each and no more than two per calendar year).
  • Help with closing costs. PenFed covers the majority of HELOC-related closing costs.
  • Wide borrowing limits. Depending on your eligibility, borrow from $25,000 all the way up to $1 million.
  • Nationwide coverage. PenFed offers loan and home equity products in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Cons

  • Early closure penalty. You’re on the hook for reimbursing PenFed the closing costs if you close your HELOC within 36 months.
  • Potential annual fee. Pay a $99 annual fee unless you’ve paid $99 in interest in the past 12 months.
  • No online application. Call or visit a branch to discuss your loan or home equity options.
  • Higher credit requirement. A 660 minimum credit score is higher than what you’d typically see from other HELOCs.

Apply to find out eligibility requirements

Other than stating you may need a minimum credit score of 660, PenFed doesn’t list its eligibility requirements. This is a common practice for many banks and credit unions. Note that you have to be a member of PenFed to apply for any of its products.

The site also mentions having a favorable debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and a combined loan-to-value ratio (CLTV) of 90% or below on owner-occupied properties, or 80% in Texas.

Special discounts for PenFed members

PenFed’s services and benefits are only available to its members, but there aren’t any special requirements to join.

PenFed members receive a variety of benefits and discounts, including:

  • Auto insurance and rental car discounts
  • Tax service discounts
  • Home insurance and alarm security discounts
  • Online education discounts
  • Dental benefits

Fees are slightly higher than some competitors

PenFed covers the majority of closing costs, but you could be on the hook for a $99 annual fee if you haven’t already paid that amount in interest in the past 12 months. And if you pay off your HELOC within 36 months, you’re required to reimburse PenFed for the full amount of the closing costs.

PenFed charges these fees for its HELOC:

  • Returned check: $30
  • Over credit limit (per month): $20
  • Lien release processing: $20
  • Late charge: 5% of the past due amount, minimum $20

PenFed reviews are mixed

BBB rating A+
Trustpilot rating Excellent
Customer reviews verified as of 05 May 2022

And that’s standard for a large credit union.

PenFed isn’t accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but it has an A+ BBB rating. The BBB recorded 455 closed customer complaints in the past three years and customers rate PenFed with 1.18 out of 5 stars — though not all reviews are referencing home equity products.

Over at TrustPilot, PenFed has a 4.6 out of 5 “excellent” rating with over 800 reviews. Customers are generally happy with the services provided, though some relate hit or miss customer service experiences.

How to get a HELOC with PenFed

PenFed doesn’t offer an online application for its HELOC. But you’re able to start the application process by submitting a call-back request online with some of your personal information. PenFed will then call you to discuss the process and requirements.

Reach PenFed at 800-970-7766 if you’d rather skip straight to the phone call. Availability is weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

Required documents

Have these documents and information ready when applying for a PenFed HELOC:

  • Proof of income, such as paystubs
  • One year of W2s
  • Two months of your most recent bank account statements
  • Mortgage statements for all owned properties
  • Two years of tax returns for self-employment income
  • Your current debts, including car payments, credit cards and alimony
  • Your debt-to-income ratio

Other home loans from PenFed

PenFed also offers these additional loan options:

  • Conventional
  • FHA
  • Jumbo
  • Refinance
  • VA

Calculate and compare home equity loan interest rates

Use our handy tool to compare estimated rates you might qualify for among top partners in your quest for the strongest home equity loan. Select between the Purchase or Refinance options, then enter your ZIP, financial details, property type and other specifics to get personalized rates.

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