Navy Federal Personal Loans: 2023 Review
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Navy Federal Credit Union personal loans may be a good fit for most members, thanks to flexible amounts, consumer-friendly features and quick funding time.
Pros & Cons
- Wide range of loan amounts.
- Fast funding.
- Rate discount for some customers.
- Co-sign, joint and secured loan options.
- Direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.
- Exclusive to credit union members.
- No option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.
- No option to choose or change your payment date.
Compare to Other Lenders
Full Review of Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan
Navy Federal Credit Union offers a wide range of personal loan amounts and numerous repayment terms to choose from, making it a flexible option for borrowers. Personal loans are available only to existing Navy Federal members, which include military members and their families.
To be eligible for membership at Navy Federal, you must be one of the following:
Active duty, retired or a veteran in any branch of the military.
Immediate family or a household member of a service member.
Department of Defense civilians.
Table of Contents
Navy Federal personal loans at a glance
Minimum credit score
7.49% - 18.00%.
$250 to $50,000.
1 to 5 years. Up to 15 years on home improvement loans.
Time to fund after approval
Funds can be sent the same day you're approved.
Loans available in 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Where Navy Federal personal loans stand out
Wide range of loan amounts: Borrowers can choose loan amounts from $250 to $50,000 when applying for a personal loan at Navy Federal. This is an especially wide range among lenders and could make the loan a fit for a small expense like an emergency repair or something larger like a home improvement project.
Term availability: For most loans, repayment terms range from one to five years, but borrowers funding home improvement projects have more choices. With a $25,000 minimum loan amount, you could qualify for a term from five to seven years. With a $30,000 minimum, you could qualify for a term of up to 15 years.
» MORE: Best home improvement loans
Co-signed, joint and secured loans: Members can add a co-signer or co-borrower to their application. Adding someone with better credit or higher income can help your chances of getting a lower rate or a higher loan amount. While both co-signers and co-borrowers are responsible for missed payments, co-signers do not have access to the funds.
Borrowers can also secure their loan with a Navy Federal savings account or CD, which could help them qualify for a lower rate. Depending on the account you choose, your annual percentage rate would be your share (savings) rate or certificate rate, plus 2% to 3%.
Rate discount for military members: If you’re active duty or retired military, you may qualify for a 0.25 percentage point discount on your loan’s APR, which lowers the interest you’ll pay on the loan. You must apply at a branch or by phone to receive the discount.
Fast funding: According to the lender, most Navy Federal members receive their loan funds the same day they’re approved, making the lender a strong fit for borrowers who need quick cash.
Where Navy Federal personal loans fall short
No option to pre-qualify: Navy Federal does not offer the option to pre-qualify for its loan. Though this is not unusual among credit unions and banks, many online lenders let you check your rates before applying. Pre-qualifying with multiple lenders allows you to compare potential loan offers without affecting your credit score.
» COMPARE: Best online personal loans
No option to choose or change payment date: Navy Federal doesn’t let borrowers choose their payment date before signing the loan agreement or change the date after signing. It’s common for a lender to let you do one or the other, and some even allow both. Payment flexibility is helpful for borrowers if their payday or monthly obligations change over the life of the loan.
May need to call to finish your application: If you’re applying for a home improvement, debt consolidation or secured loan, you’ll need to call Navy Federal to submit your application, which may be an inconvenience. You also have the option to visit a branch. Applications for general personal expense loans can be submitted online or through the lender’s mobile app.
Do you qualify for a Navy Federal personal loan?
Navy Federal says its loans are available to borrowers across the credit spectrum, including borrowers with bad credit or thin credit histories, and there’s no minimum credit score requirement. You must be a member of Navy Federal to apply.
Here’s what you need for your application:
Desired loan amount and term.
Current employment details and income.
Contact information, including phone number and email address.
Personal details of your co-applicant or co-borrower, if applicable.
Before you apply
Calculate your monthly payments. Use a personal loan calculator to determine what APR and repayment term you’d need to get a loan with affordable monthly payments.
Make a plan to repay the loan. Review your budget to see how the loan’s monthly payments impact your cash flow. If you have to cut other expenses in order to repay the loan, it’s better to know that before you borrow.
Gather your documents. Navy Federal may request proof of income, like a pay stub or tax return, as well as photo identification, like a driver’s license or passport. Having these documents handy can speed the application process.
How to apply for a Navy Federal personal loan
Here are the steps to apply for a Navy Federal loan.
Apply on Navy Federal’s website, call or visit a branch. Since Navy Federal doesn’t let you pre-qualify, your first step is to submit a formal personal loan application. Depending on the loan’s purpose, you can complete the application online, by phone or by visiting a Navy Federal branch. This may require documentation, like W-2s, pay stubs and bank statements, to confirm your information. Navy Federal will do a hard credit check when you apply, so your credit score could temporarily dip.
Make a plan to repay the loan. Navy Federal reports payments to the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), so on-time payments will help build your credit score, but missed payments will hurt it. Setting up automatic payments and keeping an eye on your budget are two ways to manage your loan payments.
Compare Navy Federal to other lenders
Personal loan lenders offer different rates, loan amounts and special features, so it pays to weigh your options. The best personal loan is usually the one with the lowest APR.
Similar to Navy Federal, LightStream and Upgrade have flexible personal loans that can be used to fund small or large expenses.
Navy Federal vs. LightStream
LightSteam offers many loan amounts and repayment terms to choose from, including longer terms for borrowers who want to fund a home improvement project. The lender also charges zero fees, has a rate discount for autopay and is available to borrowers with good or excellent credit (690 credit score or higher).
» MORE: Read our review of LightStream
Navy Federal vs. Upgrade
Upgrade personal loans are available to borrowers with a minimum credit score of 560. The lender offers multiple rate discounts, secured and joint loan options, and long repayment terms on home improvement loans. However, Upgrade charges an origination fee.
» MORE: Read our review of Upgrade
How we rate Navy Federal personal loans
NerdWallet writers rate lenders against a rubric that changes each year based on how personal loan products evolve. Here’s what we prioritized this year:
- Category definitions
An affordable loan has low rates and fees compared to other similar loans and may offer rate discounts.
Underwriting and eligibility (25%)
The lender reviews borrowers credit reports and credit history, and tries to understand their ability to repay a loan, before making a final application decision.
Loan flexibility (20%)
A flexible loan is one that lets users customize terms and payments. That means offering a wide range of repayment term options, allowing the borrower to change their payment date, offering loans in most states and funding it quickly.
Customer experience (15%)
A good customer experience can include a fully online application process, financial education on the lender’s website and a customer service team that’s available most of the time and can be reached multiple ways.
A transparent lender makes information about the loan easy to find on its website, including rates, terms and loan amounts. Transparency also means allowing users to pre-qualify online to preview potential loan offers and reporting payment information with the major credit bureaus.
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NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 technology companies and financial institutions. We collect over 50 data points from each lender and cross-check company websites, earnings reports and other public documents to confirm product details. We may also go through a lender’s pre-qualification flow and follow up with company representatives. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.
Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. Our ratings award fewer points to lenders with practices that may make a loan difficult to repay on time, such as charging high annual percentage rates (above 36%), underwriting that does not adequately assess consumers’ ability to repay and lack of credit-building help. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.