PenFed HELOC Review 2024

Good for: Borrowers who want a fast closing or the predictability of fixed-rate payments.
Taylor Getler
By
Last updated on February 6, 2024
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Alice Holbrook
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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Our Take

4.0

HELOCs
NerdWallet rating
The Nerdy headline:

PenFed stands out for its “HELOC Express” product, which allows for closing within 15 days and has no origination fees. The lender also offers HELOCs on second homes, as well as the option to lock draws at a fixed rate. There’s an annual fee of $99 and a minimum loan amount of $25,000, but no minimum draw is required. Borrowers will also have to join the credit union, but membership is open to anyone.

Jump to:Full Review
PenFed
PenFed: NMLS#401822

National / regional
National
Max LTV
85%
Min. credit score
680
Loan types and products
Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, VA, FHA

Pros

  • Offers a fixed-rate option.
  • Customers can borrow up to 85% of their equity, which is slightly above average for HELOC lenders.
  • HELOCs are available on second homes.
  • Some borrowers may be eligible for closing in as little as 15 days.

Cons

  • Minimum loan amount of $25,000, while some competitors have no minimum limit.
  • $99 annual fee.
  • No rate discounts are available.
  • Chatbot assistance isn’t available for HELOC customers.
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640
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580
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Full Review

PenFed HELOC rates and discounts

Most home equity line of credit, or HELOC, interest rates are indexed to a base rate called the prime rate. The annual percentage rate, or APR, that you’re offered will include a margin the lender has added to the prime rate. Offered margins depend largely on factors like your credit score, your existing debt and the amount you wish to borrow, but they will vary by lender.

Current prime rate

Prime rate last week

Prime rate in the past year — low

Prime rate in the past year — high

8.50%.

8.50%.

8.0%.

8.50%.

PenFed sample rates are posted online, though the exact offer will be customized to each applicant based on their financial profile. On the day we checked, PenFed was advertising rates starting at 8.625%, based on a prime rate of 8.5%. There are no rate discounts available, according to a representative we spoke with by phone.

Applying for a PenFed HELOC

PenFed has an online application, or you can request a call from a representative to start an application by phone. You can also apply in person at a branch with a loan officer. The lender’s website has a chatbot feature, but HELOC and mortgage questions are not supported.

Borrowers will need a credit score of at least 680 in order to qualify. The minimum loan amount is $25,000, but there is no minimum draw.

Opening and using a PenFed HELOC

According to the lender, borrowers who meet the “HELOC Express” criteria can close on their loan within 15 days.

HELOC borrowers can write checks from their account, transfer money to their preferred spending account by linking it to their PenFed HELOC account online or request a wire transfer by phone.

HELOC borrowers have 10 years to draw from the account. During this time, the only payment obligations are on the interest. After that, borrowers have 20 years to pay back the remaining principal and interest.

By beginning your application online, you automatically consent to receiving telemarketing calls and texts from PenFed. However, you can opt out at any point.

Alternatives to a PenFed HELOC

Borrowers who need to access their HELOC quickly may be interested in Figure or Guaranteed Rate, both of which offer funding in as little as five days.

HELOCs offer a flexible way to access home equity over a period of time and pay interest only on the funds you withdraw. However, rising interest rates can bump up your monthly payment, and, as with credit cards, it takes discipline to avoid overspending.

Alternatives to home equity lines of credit include a home equity loan, which offers a lump sum with a fixed rate, or a cash-out refinance, which replaces your existing mortgage with a larger loan. PenFed doesn’t offer a home equity loan at this time, though it does offer cash-out refinances.

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Methodology

NerdWallet’s HELOC star ratings are awarded by the editorial team based on the following evaluated factors: combined loan-to-value ratio, lender fees, transparency on key factors, whether a fixed-rate option is available, rate discounts, ease of application, whether a prepayment penalty may apply and whether an initial draw is required.

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