Looking to put down roots and take out a mortgage for the first time ever? Or do you want to save on interest by refinancing your student debt? Whatever your financing needs may be, PenFed could help. This credit union has been serving the military community for over 80 years with a long list of loan solutions under its belt. And don’t worry, even if you’re not affiliated with the military, you may still be able to join.
What types of loans does PenFed offer?
PenFed has an extensive loan availability that stretches beyond just home and auto loans.
Personal and bill consolidation loans are available through PenFed. Both have amounts that range from $600 to $25,000, no origination fees and APRs from 5.49% to 17.99%.
The biggest difference is that a bill consolidation loan is specifically for combining multiple open balances under one loan, while a personal loan is a general-purpose loan that can be used for any legitimate purpose.
Private student loans
PenFed has partnered with Sallie Mae to offer:
- Undergraduate student loans. Students can borrow as little as $1,000 all the way up to 100% of the cost of attendance.
- Parent student loans. Parents can help finance their child's education with loans starting at $1,000 and going up to 100% of the cost of attendance.
- Graduate student loans. Graduate, doctoral, MBA, medical, dental and law students can borrow from $1,000 all the way up to 100% of the cost of attendance. Variable and fixed interest rates are available and vary depending on the degree you're working toward.
Student loan refinancing
Fixed and variable rates are available for student loan refinancing through PenFed. Spouse loan refinancing is available to couples looking to consolidate their debts, as well as parent loan refinancing for both private and Parent PLUS loans. Parents may be cosigners on their child’s loan when refinancing.
- New auto loans. Geared toward those looking to get into a new vehicle that’s never been titled, APRs start at 2.29% and loan amounts range from $500 to $100,000.
- Used auto loans. APRs start a bit higher at 3.19%, but they come in the same amounts ranging from $500 – $100,000.
- Refinance auto loans. Features and restrictions unique to refinancing apply, but they offer the same amount ranges and starting rates as new and used auto loans.
- Payment Saver auto loans. For those looking to pay less upfront at a higher rate, they come with a lump-sum payment at the end of their term. Loan amounts range from $10,000 to $100,000 and APRs start at 2.99% and 3.74% for new and used cars, respectively.
Motorcycle, RV and boat loans
- New and used motorcycle loans. Can provide up to 100% financing for qualified members with APRs starting at 6.49% and loan amounts from $6,000 to $50,000.
- New and used boat loans. Free of application and early payoff fees, APRs start at 6.15% and loans amounts range from $5,000 to $39,999.
- New and used RV and travel trailer loans. Fixed and variable rates are available with loan amounts ranging from $5,000 to $39,999. Fixed rates come with a starting APR of 6.15%.
A solid 22 different mortgage offerings are available through PenFed. On the low end, you can take out a traditional 30-year fixed conforming mortgage for amounts ranging from $25,000 to $453,100 in most states. High-limit mortgages are also among those presented, with amounts ranging from $453,100 to $2 million.
Of the 22 options, 10 have fixed rates and two are specific to veterans. Both veteran options are fixed-rate mortgages. Terms are available for 10, 15, 20 or 30 years, and the lowest starting APR is 4.202% for a 15-year fixed conforming mortgage.
Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs)
Whether you rent or live in the house you'd like to borrow from, you're limited to borrowing between $10,000 and $400,000. For owner-occupied homes, you can borrow up to 90% of your home's value, but the maximum amount you can borrow drops to $250,000 if you’re borrowing between 85.01% and 90%. Meanwhile, you can only borrow up to 80% of your non-owner occupied home's value.
PenFed offers three different home equity lines of credit that all have variable rates: a basic home equity line, a 5/5 home equity line and an interest-only home equity line. The basic home equity and interest-only lines offer amounts ranging from $10,000 to $400,000, while the 5/5 line offers between $25,000 and $400,000.
Why should I consider taking out a loan with PenFed Credit Union?
- Cosigners welcome for student loan refinancing. When you consolidate your student debt, you’re allowed to apply with a cosigner — even if you previously didn’t have one.
- Financial hardship programs available. Financial hardship can strike anyone — at any time. PenFed allows you to easily request help if you're worried about falling behind on your loan payments by filling out a simple form and providing a few supporting documents. Note that the application for assistance usually takes four to six weeks for processing and review.
- Get all of your banking needs met in one place. Checking and savings accounts, several types of credit cards, money market certificates and IRAs are all available when you become a PenFed member.
- Membership benefits. Auto, finance, home, personal and retail discounts are available to members of PenFed. Sprint, Vantis Life, ADT Home Protection, Intuit and National Car Rental are just a few of the partnered companies.
- Can join without being in the military. While its products are designed to be accessible to military members, the membership is not limited to just the military. You can also join by volunteering with certain groups or becoming a member of certain associations.
Where does PenFed Credit Union fall short?
- Credit inquiry necessary for membership. Just opening an account with PenFed requires a pull of your credit report.
- Account required. You’ll be required to keep a savings account open at minimum for the life of your loan.
- Limited branches. Physical locations can only be found in Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington, DC.
How much will it cost to borrow with PenFed Credit Union?
A straightforward list of all of the service fees you might incur with PenFed is available on its site by scrolling down to the bottom of the homepage and clicking Service Fees. Some of the most common ones include:
- Returned payment fee. $30 for any returned payment, whether it’s check or ACH.
- Late payment fee. 20% of the amount due, with a minimum of $5 and a maximum of $25.
- Check stop payment fee. $15 to stop a payment.
Aside from these service fees, some loans may have origination fees. Fixed personal loans and debt consolidation loans don’t require an origination fee.
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What do customers say about PenFed Credit Union?
Though not accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), PenFed holds an A+ rating with a composite score of 3.81 out of 5 stars as of August 2018. It's had 120 complaints filed against it with the BBB. One customer was upset to learn that their charitable donation and $5 deposit to become a member was non-refundable, though in all fairness, PenFed states this on its site. Another found that the credit union didn't inform them of all the fees associated with their car loan. To avoid this, carefully read the terms and conditions before accepting a loan from PenFed.
Are PenFed Credit Union loans safe?
Generally, yes — though no online lender is 100% secure from hackers. To protect borrowers, PenFed uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption on its site. Moreover, the site's navigation is clean and easy to use with a full, well-organized site map available from a link at the bottom of almost any page. The mobile app — available for iOS and Android devices — is just as sleek, with easy-to-understand menus.
How to apply for a loan with PenFed Credit Union
You must be a PenFed member to apply for a loan. Members must have at least one savings account open with a minimum deposit of $5.
To apply for a loan, follow these steps:
- Go to the PenFed site.
- Hover your mouse over the type of product you want at the top of the homepage.
- Select the loan type you want.
- Click Apply now.
Once you start your application, you’ll need to fill out requested information as you’re prompted. You can check the status of your application at any time via the online portal. Once you’re logged in, simply click Apply Now from the main menu page and then select Recent Applications.
Eligibility requirements for PenFed membership
To be eligible for membership, you must fit one of the following categories:
- Serve in or are retired from the US military or uniformed services.
- An employee of the US government.
- An employee of a qualified organization, such as West Point, Valor or the DC VA Medical Center.
- Live or work at an eligible location.
- Related to or a roommate of someone who is eligible.
- A member of one of the supported organizations, such as the American Society of Military Comptrollers or Reserve Officers Association.
You can also become eligible by joining a civilian-friendly military group. The National Military Family Association and Voices for America's Troops are the two that PenFed lists on its site. It also provides the option to join either organization directly from its online membership application page.
More about PenFed Credit Union
PenFed was established in 1935 and has historically served the US military and federal employee communities. Over 1.6 million members make up PenFed, making it the second-largest federal credit union in the US. As a credit union, PenFed members are owners and have equal vote when electing the board of directors — regardless of the amount of cash you have or products you use.
As of August 2018, PenFed has partnered with Sallie Mae to help its members finance their college education through undergraduate, graduate and parent student loans, as well as a scholarship search tool.
With the wide array of products available from PenFed, you may be able to find a loan that fits your needs — whether you’re looking to buy a home, refinance your car loan or just go on vacation. Its financial hardship programs and exclusive membership benefits help to set it apart from the competition.
Want to compare more options? Browse more credit union loans or explore top providers to find the best one for you.
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Loans of up to $20K from Pentagon Federal Credit Union. Open to US military members, government employees, their families and members of supporting groups.
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