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Top 5 credit unions in New York for personal loans
Here’s the run-down on our top picks for credit unions in and around the five-borough area. Since credit unions tend to have restrictive membership guidelines, you likely won’t qualify for all of these options, but you might have your pick of two or three.
1. New York Municipal Credit Union (MCU)
This local credit union opened in 1916 to provide city employees with small-dollar financing options to combat loan sharks. New York Municipal Credit Union (MCU) expanded its reach beyond the five boroughs and government workers — though membership is limited by where you and your family work.
If you qualify, you can get some of the best rates around — capped at 7.55% APR if you sign up for its 2% autopay discount. Borrow as little as $500 with a secured loans and up to $50,000 with an unsecured personal loan. Generally, applicants can qualify for as much as 25% of their annual salary.
- Loans offered: Personal loans, share secured loan, CD secured loan, overdraft checking line of credit
- How much you can borrow: $500–$50,000
- APR range: 3.5% to 9.55% with autopay; 17.90% for overdraft line of credit
- Areas served: New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, Mount Vernon, Yonkers
- Who’s eligible: You must live in an an eligible area, have an eligible occupation, be an MCU member with at least $5 in an MCU account
2. New York University Federal Credit Union (NYUFCU)
Students, faculty members and other staff at NYU might want to pay close attention to this university-centric credit union. You won’t be able to buy a private jet through this lender — larger loans generally only go up to $10,000. It’s good for smaller personal costs like funding a vacation or paying for a small wedding. Its quick cash loans can spot you $250 to $500 with no minimum credit score required or interest — just a $25 loan fee.
- Loans offered: Personal loan, vacation or holiday loan, share secured loan, credit-builder loan, “life happens” loan, quick cash loan.
- How much you can borrow: $250 to $10,000
- APR range: 9% to 16.5%
- Areas served: No geographical limits; locations in New York City plus co-op ATMs across the US and Canada
- Who’s eligible: NYUFCU members who are NYU students, staff, alumni, family members or people who share household costs with an NYUFCU member are eligible; you also must have a credit score of at least 550 and a debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of 45% or lower to qualify
3. Teachers Federal Credit Union (TFCU)
While this credit union originally served Long Island teachers when it opened its doors in 1952, now anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Nassau or Suffolk counties can join. Its rates are a bit high, but the variety of loans it offers beats most competition. It also has a wider range of amounts you can borrow than other credit unions.
- Loans offered: Personal loan, secured loan, lines of credit, short-term small amount loans, energy assistance loan, PV/solar loan, vacation loan, holiday loan
- How much you can borrow: $250 to $20,000
- APR range: Starting at As low as 10.45% for personal loans, lower for other types of financing.
- Areas served: Nassau and Suffolk counties
- Who’s eligible: TFCU members (you must live, go to school or work in an eligible area) with a steady income and a history of on-time payments.
4. First New York Federal Credit Union
This credit union is only available to residents in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady or Schoharie. First New York could be a particularly great resource for borrowers looking for loans on the smaller end — with personal loans start at $500. It also offers a variety of short- and long-term secured options, including a personal HELP loan designed to build your credit.
- Loans offered: Personal loan, HELP loan, overdraft protection, share secured loans, share certificate secured loans, stock secured loans.
- How much you can borrow: $500 to $50,000
- APR range: Starting at 6.74% to 11.75%
- Areas served: Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie counties.
- Who’s eligible: You must live in an eligible area, become a First New York member, have a First New York savings account with a balance of at least $5 and have a DTI of 50% or less.
5. Spring Bank
While technically not a credit union, Spring Bank’s unique approach to financing is closer to a credit union than a local bank. It’s a designated community development financial institution, meaning it provides responsible alternative lending options to members of an underserved community — the South Bronx in this case.
It offers a wide range of secured and unsecured personal loans, with two financing options designed to help you build your personal credit history and boost your credit score.
- Loans offered: Unsecured and secured personal loans, employee opportunity loans, credit builder loans.
- How much you can borrow: $500 to $10,000.
- APR range: 8% to 16% .
- Areas served: No limits, but the only two bank locations are in the South Bronx and Harlem.
- Who’s eligible: Anyone who’s employed, makes at least $22,000 a year, has had no bankruptcies in the past five years, has had no judgments or large collections on their credit report and can provide two different forms of ID.
How could I benefit from getting a loan at a local credit union?
- Competitive rates. While credit unions might offer higher starting APRs for its personal loans than with other lenders, local credit unions often cap their APRs or have a set rate for everyone that’s typically lower than other personal loans.
- Less strict credit requirements. Credit unions care about your credit score, though most offer a variety of secured personal loan options that help bad-credit customers qualify.
- Opportunities to improve your credit. It’s common for local credit unions to offer credit builder loans or other types of short-term financing that’s easy to repay and comes at a low cost. These help you build your credit report and qualify for larger amounts down the line.
- Payday loan alternative. Most local credit unions offer small-dollar options with relatively low interest rates — especially compared to payday loans, which can come with APRs clocking in at 400% or higher.
- Supporting your community. Borrowing from any local financial institution is a vote for the little guy. Local credit unions are there to serve you, your neighbors and local businesses. By borrowing from them, you’re helping them continue that mission.
What might I be missing out on by not going with a big lender?
- Fast funding. Credit unions aren’t the best for emergency funds — maybe with the exception of NYUFCU. You’ll have better luck with larger institutions.
- Low starting rates. Have excellent credit? A low DTI? You might be able to qualify for more competitive rates if you go to a heavyweight lender instead.
- Large loans. You typically can’t borrow more than $25,000 when you go with a credit union — sometimes $50,000 if you’re lucky. Big lenders are the way to go if you want to get help paying for a new boat, for example.
- Customer service. Bigger lenders simply have more resources to put toward hiring quality customer service staff to help you out with your personal loan.
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Important factors to consider before joining a credit union
Since local credit unions don’t have as wide a reach as big banks, switching to one can have more of an impact on your daily life than you might expect. Credit unions typically require you to be a member in order to get a loan through them. Consider these factors when you’re deciding whether or not to join a credit union.
- Locations. Can you get to a branch of your credit union easily? If not, how long will it take? How important is having a nearby branch?
- ATM charges. If you travel a lot, you might end up paying a lot in ATM fees since most local credit unions don’t have ATMs across the country. Some — like NYUFCU — get around this by having co-op ATMs across the country, though that’s more the exception than the rule.
- Online banking. Many credit unions still have limited online banking options — they’re best for person-to-person transactions. If you like having a teller who remembers your name, your local credit union could be what you’re looking for.
- Bank account options. While credit unions typically offer a wide range of personal loans, your options might be more limited when it comes to that bank account you have to open to qualify. If you have a specific bank account in mind, you might not have as much luck with a credit union.
Local credit unions offer a socially-conscious, relatively inexpensive type of personal financing. They’re typically best for people with small financing needs or those who want to build their credit. You’ll have to join first before you can qualify for a personal loan.