The bottom line: A solid option for borrowers looking for small loan amounts at low rates; you can add a co-signer if you don’t qualify on your own.
PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan
Min. Credit Score
6.49 - 17.99%
$500 - $20,000
Pros & Cons
Option to defer a payment.
Offers small loans of $500.
Option to include a co-signer.
Does not offer direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.
No option to pre-qualify.
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To review PenFed, NerdWallet collected data from the website, made calls to multiple customer service representatives and compared the lender with others that seek the same customers or offer a similar personal loan product. Loan terms and fees may vary by state.
PenFed offers personal loans to members with fair credit and a stable source of income. Founded in 1935, the company is one of the largest credit unions in the United States by assets. PenFed is known for serving military members, but the credit union’s membership is open to the public.
PenFed personal loans come with the low minimum dollar amounts that are typical of federal credit union loans. Loans can range from $500 to $25,000, depending on the term you choose. The credit union offers repayment terms as low as one year, compared with other lenders that have a minimum term of two or three years.
The company considers a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio, credit score and income, among other factors, in an application decision, according to a customer service representative.
Fast funding: A customer service representative says once approved, funds can be deposited into a borrower’s account in as little as 24 hours.
Flexible payment options: Borrowers can defer one payment per year and change the loan’s payment date once per year.
Co-signer option: PenFed is one of few lenders that allows applicants who don’t qualify for a loan to add a co-signer. For example, a co-signer could help an applicant with a 550 credit score qualify, a customer service representative said.
No option to pre-qualify: PenFed doesn’t have an option for borrowers to pre-qualify for a loan with a soft credit pull. Instead, a borrower has to apply in order to know what terms and rates are available.
The lender does a hard credit pull, which can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points, on loan applications and when someone applies for membership, according to a customer service representative.
No direct payment to creditors: Unlike other lenders, PenFed’s debt consolidation loans don’t come with the option to have loan proceeds sent directly to creditors. Instead, borrowers are responsible for sending the funds themselves.
$5 membership fee.
$20-$25 late fee after five-day grace period.
$30 returned payment fee.
How to qualify:
Minimum credit score: 600.
Some credit history required.
Loan example: For a borrower with good credit (690 to 719 FICO score), a $10,000 personal loan with a repayment term of 36 months at an 18% APR would carry a monthly payment of $362, according to NerdWallet’s personal loan calculator.
How to apply with PenFed
If you’re already a PenFed member, you can apply online, over the phone or in person. If you're not a member, you have to apply to become one and deposit $5 into a membership account before applying for a loan.
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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.