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PenFed is best for borrowers who need to borrow a relatively small amount of money. Through PenFed, you can get $600 to $50,000 for debt consolidation or home improvement projects, and there are no origination fees. However, PenFed has limited loan terms, and borrowers with excellent credit and low debt-to-income ratios may be able to find better rates elsewhere.
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- Pros & Cons
- Key Takeaways
- Company Overview
Broad range of loan amounts
Financial hardship programs available
Term maximum is 60 months
It can take several business days to receive funds
Credit union membership required
- PenFed is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.
- Membership is open to the public.
- PenFed issues loans in all 50 states.
- It operates 44 brick-and-mortar branches in the U.S.
- Besides personal loans, PenFed also offers mortgages and car loans.
The Pentagon Federal Credit Union, more commonly known as PenFed, was launched in 1935. It’s the second-largest federal credit union, with over 2.8 million members and $36.6 billion in assets.
It’s a full-service credit union that offers checking and savings accounts, individual retirement accounts, mortgages, credit cards, student loan refinancing, car loans, and personal loans.
Unlike other credit unions that restrict membership to certain groups, PenFed’s membership is available to the general public. You can join the credit union online by opening a savings account with as little as $5.
- Broad range of loan amounts: With some lenders, the minimum amount you can borrow is $3,000 or more. If you have a smaller expense, you may be forced to borrow more than you need, and more interest could accrue. But with PenFed, the minimum loan amount is $600, so you can borrow exactly what you need.
- Co-borrowers permitted: Not all personal loan companies allow people to apply with a co-signer or co-borrower, but PenFed encourages applicants to have a co-borrower to improve their chances of getting a loan.
- Financial hardship programs available: PenFed has financial hardship programs that can help you avoid defaulting on your loans and damaging your credit if you lose your job or become seriously ill.
- Term maximum is 60 months: Some personal loan companies offer loan terms as long as seven years, but PenFed’s maximum loan term is just five years. If you’re borrowing a large amount, the shorter term will mean a larger monthly payment than you may get with a lender that offers longer terms.
- It can take several business days to receive funds: Some lenders offer loan disbursements as soon as the same day you apply, but PenFed’s loans typically take longer. Depending on the disbursement method you choose, it could take one to seven business days to receive your loan funds.
- Credit union membership required: Although PenFed’s membership is open to the public, you have to join before you can take out a loan. To join, you must open a savings account and deposit $5, which can be done as you apply for the loan.
Before taking out a personal loan, use a personal loan calculator to estimate your payments and find out how much you’ll pay over the life of the loan.
Types of Personal Loans Offered by PenFed
PenFed Credit Union only offers unsecured personal loans, meaning you don’t need to use a car or home as collateral. Its personal loans can be used for a wide range of expenses, including:
- Debt consolidation
- Medical bills
- Home renovation projects
- Veterinarian bills
- Car repairs
PenFed does not stipulate any specific restrictions on how its loan funds can be used.
Time to Receive Funds
While some lenders boast same-day funding, PenFed can take a bit longer to process and disburse loans.
Depending on your loan application and the disbursement method, it can take between one and seven days to receive your loan funds. Opting for electronic transfer is the fastest way to get the money; loan funds disbursed via electronic transfer usually arrive within one to two business days, while a paper check will take longer.
To qualify for a loan from PenFed Credit Union, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be the age of majority in your state (18 in most states)
- You must have a verifiable source of income
- You must have good to excellent credit or a creditworthy co-borrower
- You must have a valid Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number
- You must be a member of the credit union
If you aren’t a member, you can join by opting to open a savings account with a $5 minimum deposit; you’ll be prompted to do so as you apply for a loan.
PenFed Personal Loan Features
PenFed offers the following benefits:
- Member discounts: Membership to the PenFed Credit Union gives you access to valuable discounts. Members can get discounts on car insurance, car rentals, tax preparation services, financial literacy programs, and purchases at select retailers.
- Financial hardship protection: If you experience a significant financial hardship, such as a job loss, death of a loved one, or illness, you may be eligible for PenFed’s financial hardship program. If you qualify, you can temporarily pause your payments.
Co-Signers and Co-Applicants
If your credit isn’t as strong as it could be or if you have other debt, applying with a co-signer or co-borrower can improve your chances of qualifying for a loan. Although not all lenders allow co-borrowers, PenFed does, and adding a co-borrower with a strong credit score to your application can help you qualify for a better rate.
Can You Refinance a Personal Loan With PenFed Credit Union?
Some lenders allow you to refinance your existing personal loan with the same lender to potentially get a better interest rate or different repayment term. However, PenFed doesn’t offer that option. If you have a PenFed Credit Union loan and you’d like to refinance it, you’ll have to work with another lender.
Got some debt, and looking to refinance or consolidate? See our choices for the best personal loans for debt consolidation.
You can reach customer support in the following ways:
- Secure message
- Phone: (800) 247-5626
The phone lines are staffed during the following times:
- Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time
- Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. ET
- Sundays from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. ET
PenFed also has a mobile app you can use to manage your accounts, make loan payments, and transfer funds. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
PenFed is a well-respected credit union. It was ranked 6th out of 22 lenders in the 2022 J.D. Power Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study, and it scored above the industry average. And on Trustpilot, PenFed has a 4.6 (Excellent) TrustScore based on over 1,000 customer reviews. In Trustpilot reviews, customers frequently praised PenFed’s responsive customer service and quick response times.
You can use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s database to look up how many complaints consumers submitted about any major personal loan lender.
Applying for a PenFed Personal Loan
With PenFed, you can check your eligibility for a loan and apply entirely online. Use the pre-qualification tool to check your rate without affecting your credit score. Based on the basic information you provide, PenFed will give you several loan offers, and you can choose the term that best fits your needs.
If you proceed with the application, PenFed will ask you to provide your Social Security number or taxpayer identification number, address, birth date, and income. You will have to consent to a hard credit check. If you aren’t already a PenFed credit union member, you’ll also have to agree to open a PenFed savings account with a $5 deposit.
Alternative Personal Loan Lenders
|PenFed Credit Union||LightStream||Happy Money|
|Loan Terms||12–60 months||2–12 years||24–60 months|
|Recommended Minimum Credit Score||650||660||640|
|Time to Receive Funds||1 business day||Same day||2 business days|
PenFed is a good option for borrowers looking for small personal loans to cover emergency expenses. It offers loans for as little as $600—far lower than other lenders—so you can borrow only what you need, and interest rates are competitive.
PenFed’s loan terms are limited, however; the maximum term is just five years, so those borrowing larger sums may want to consider other lenders that offer longer loan terms to get a more manageable monthly payment.
Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. To rate providers, we collected hundreds of data points across more than 40 lenders, including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms, to ensure that our reviews help users make informed decisions for their borrowing needs.
PenFed Credit Union. "Financial Hardship Center."
PenFed Credit Union. "Personal Loans: FAQs."
PenFed Credit Union. "Personal Loan Application."
PenFed Credit Union. "Member Discounts."
PenFed Credit Union. "Temporary Financial Hardship Program."
J.D. Power. "Personal Loans Emerge as Critical Financial Lifeline in Challenging Economy, J.D. Power Finds."
TrustPilot. "PenFed Credit Union."