PenFed Personal Loans: 2022 Review

PenFed offers a wide range of personal loan amounts with low rates and minimal fees, and borrowers can pre-qualify.
Dec 16, 2021

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Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

PenFed’s personal loans are ideal for good-credit borrowers looking for a personal loan at a low interest rate.

PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan
Est. APR
4.99-17.99%
Loan amount
$600-$50,000
Min. credit score
None
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Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.
  • No origination or prepayment fees.
  • Offers joint and secured loan options.
  • Offers mobile app to manage your loan.

Cons

  • No discount for autopay.
  • Does not offer direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.
  • No option to choose or change your payment date.

Compare to Other Lenders

Lending Club
SoFi
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Est. APR

6.34-35.89%

Est. APR

6.99-22.28%

Loan term

3 to 5 years

Loan term

2 to 7 years

Loan amount

$1,000-$40,000

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

600

Min. credit score

680

Compare estimated rates from multiple lenders

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Full Review of PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan

PenFed offers personal loans of $600 to $50,000 with repayment terms between one and five years.

PenFed is best known for serving military members, but anyone can join by funding a savings account with a minimum of $5.

The lender lets borrowers pre-qualify — a feature you don’t always see with credit unions — and couples its mobile app with seven-day customer service.

PenFed is best for borrowers who:

  • Are PenFed members.

  • Have good credit (690 FICO or better).

  • Want to add a co-borrower to their application or secure the loan with a PenFed share account.

PenFed at a glance

Affordability

  • APRs are low among lenders targeting good-credit borrowers.

  • No origination or prepayment fees.

  • No rate discount for autopayments.

Loan flexibility

  • Offers secured and joint loans.

  • No option to change payment date.

  • Funds loans within one week.

  • Available in all 50 states.

Transparency

  • Soft credit check to pre-qualify.

  • Rates and terms aren’t easily discoverable on website.

  • FAQ answers key borrower questions.

Customer experience

  • Offers multiple customer contact channels and seven-day support.

  • Offers mobile app to manage loan.

Key terms to know about personal loans

Annual percentage rate

Annual percentage rate is the interest rate on your loan plus all fees, calculated on an annual basis and expressed as a percentage. Use the APR to compare loan costs from multiple lenders.

Origination fee

An origination fee is a one-time, upfront fee that some lenders charge for processing a loan. The fee can range from 1% to 10% of the loan amount, and lenders typically deduct it from your loan proceeds.

Debt-to-income ratio

The debt-to-income ratio divides your total monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income, giving you a percentage. Lenders use DTI — along with credit history and other factors — to evaluate a borrower's financial ability to repay a loan.

Soft credit check

Lenders that offer pre-qualification typically do so using a soft credit check, which allows you to see rates and terms you qualify for without affecting your credit score. If you accept the loan offer, the lender will perform a hard check to confirm your information. Hard checks knock a few points off your credit score.

» COMPARE: Best bank loans

Where PenFed stands out

Minimal fees and low rates: In addition to charging no origination or prepayment fees, PenFed also offers low rates compared with other good-credit lenders. This makes it an especially affordable loan, even though it doesn’t currently offer a rate discount for setting up autopayments.

Soft credit check to pre-qualify: Unlike other credit unions or even some major banks, PenFed lets you pre-qualify online to see your potential rates and loan amounts without affecting your credit score.

Wide range of loan amounts: PenFed loans start at $600 and go to $50,000, meaning borrowers can fund a wide range of expenses, from a small emergency repair to a major home improvement project. Paired with the lender’s terms of one to five years, loans can be easily customized to fit your needs.

Joint and secured loan option: You can add a co-borrower with better credit or a higher income to your loan application to help improve your chances of qualifying or getting a lower rate. This person would have equal access to the funds and share responsibility for repaying the loan.

You can also use a PenFed share account to secure your personal loan. Securing the loan can help you qualify for a lower rate or higher loan amount because the lender has something of value to take if you fail to repay.

Where PenFed falls short

No co-signed option: PenFed does not let borrowers add a co-signer to their application to improve their chances of qualifying. Like a joint borrower, a co-signer can improve your chances of qualifying, though they can’t use the funds.

No direct payments to creditors: Unlike lenders that focus on debt consolidation, PenFed does not send payments directly to creditors when you consolidate debts with a loan. Instead, the funds are deposited into your checking account and you pay off other debts yourself.

No option to change your payment date: You cannot choose your payment date before signing the loan agreement or change it after. Many lenders let you do one of the two, though some offer both. According to the lender, you can extend your payment date due to hardship if needed.

How to qualify for a PenFed loan

PenFed doesn’t make many borrower requirements public. According to the lender, it generally likes to see:

  • Minimum credit history: Two years.

  • Debt-to-income ratio: Below 55%.

Loan example: A three-year, $20,000 loan with an 11.2% APR would cost $657 in monthly payments. You’d pay $3,640 in total interest on that loan.

How to get a PenFed loan

Apply on PenFed

You have to be a member to receive a PenFed personal loan. Once you’re a member, you can pre-qualify and accept a loan offer to begin the online application process.

Pre-qualify on NerdWallet

NerdWallet recommends comparing loans to find the best rate for you. Click the button below to pre-qualify and receive a personalized rate from lenders that partner with NerdWallet.

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Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 financial institutions. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. 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. 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.

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.