Navy Federal Personal Loans: 2020 Review

You must join the credit union to get a personal loan, but qualifying members receive competitive rates and flexible terms.

Steve NicastroJanuary 3, 2020

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan

Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan

Min. Credit Score

None

Est. APR

7.49 - 18.00%

Loan Amount

$0 - $50,000

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Competitive rates among credit unions.

  • No origination fee.

Cons

  • Must be a member of Navy Federal.

  • No option to pre-qualify.

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Full Review

To review Navy Federal Credit Union, NerdWallet collected more than 30 data points from the lender, interviewed company executives and compared the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. Loan terms and fees may vary by state.

Federal credit unions such as Navy Federal cap interest rates at 18%, which makes loans for borrowers with bad credit potentially less expensive than one they’d get through an online lender, where rates top out at 36%.

In addition to credit score and debt-to-income ratio, Navy Federal considers a borrower’s history with the credit union and current employment status. Navy Federal may also lend to borrowers with little or no credit history.

Loan uses: Navy Federal personal loans can be used for any purpose. No origination fees and low rates make them particularly suited to debt consolidation.

Loans for home improvements: Navy Federal’s home improvement loans have extended term lengths of up to 15 years, with annual percentage rates between 15.29% and 18%. The minimum loan amount for terms of seven years is $25,000; to extend to 15 years, you’ll need to borrow at least $30,000.

Hard credit pull: Unlike most online lenders, Navy Federal does not offer pre-qualification with soft credit checks. The lender conducts a hard credit pull on a loan application, which may result in a temporary ding to your credit score. However, establishing a positive loan payment history can improve your score.

How to qualify: You must meet one of Navy Federal's membership requirements:

  • Active duty members, reservists, veterans, retirees, and annuitants of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

  • Army and Air National Guard personnel.

  • Delayed Entry Program personnel.

  • Department of Defense civilians.

  • U.S. government employees assigned to DOD installations.

  • Contractors assigned to DOD installations.

  • Immediate family members of any of the above.

If you meet its membership requirements and wish to join, you can apply online, over the phone or in-person at a branch.

CFPB action: In 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered Navy Federal to pay $28.5 million for misleading consumers about debt-collection practices. A Navy Federal spokesperson says the credit union has since revisited its collections practices, and they “meet or exceed regulatory standards.”

How Navy Federal compares

Wells Fargo is one of the few large consumer banks to make personal loans. Loan amounts go up to $100,000, making them an option for borrowers looking to finance a home renovation or other costly projects. Banks are not subject to the same interest rate cap as credit unions.

Online lenders like LendingClub are faster alternatives to financing than traditional banks; some can provide financing within hours or days. However, online lenders often lack the personal connection and history that borrowers may have with their credit unions, making it more difficult for those with poor credit to qualify.

How to apply for a Navy Federal personal loan

If you’re a Navy Federal member and you can withstand a temporary hit to your credit score, the credit union may offer a cheaper loan than online lenders. Loans specifically for debt consolidation or home improvement require an in-branch visit or phone call; otherwise, you can apply online.

Check rates from other lenders

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Before you shop for a personal loan

Personal Loans Rating Methodology

NerdWallet's ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus, and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.