PenFed Personal Loans Review

PenFed may be worth a look if your credit score is fair

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PenFed Credit Union personal loans
overall rating
3.8

PenFed Credit Union, one of the most financially stable credit unions in the United States, offers a variety of products—including personal loans. While the credit union is well known in the military, anyone can become a member.

You can check your rates for a PenFed personal loan without affecting your credit score. The most creditworthy borrowers may qualify for an interest rate as low as 5.99%. Our PenFed personal loan review covers everything you need to know. Here’s how to figure out if the lender is a good fit for you.

  • Product Specifications
  • Pros & Cons
  • Fees
Product Specifications
  • APR Range 5.99% to 17.99%
  • Loan Amounts $500 to $20,000
  • Loan Terms six to 60 months
  • Recommended Minimum Credit Score 580
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Borrow as little as $600

  • Co-signer allowed

  • Financial hardship protection

Cons
  • No prequalification, but you can check rates

  • Must belong to PenFed credit union

  • $35,000 loan limit

Fees

PenFed’s personal loan has no origination fee or prepayment penalty. However, there are a few other fees to watch for:

  • Origination fee: none
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • PenFed membership fee: $5
  • Late payment fee: $29
  • Returned payment fee: $30

Pros Explained

  • Borrow as Little as $600 – PenFed offers personal loans for as little as $600, which can be tough to find among its competitors. This may be a convenient option if you need a small personal loan for an immediate expense.
  • Co-signer Allowed – If your credit score is less than perfect, you may rely on a co-signer. This may make it easier to qualify for a personal loan and get a lower interest rate.
  • Financial Hardship Protection – PenFed may offer assistance if you are experiencing financial hardship, such as job loss, disability, divorce, or disaster. Depending on your situation, PenFed may offer deferred payments, forbearance, another repayment plan, or a loan modification. 

Cons Explained

  • No Prequalification PenFed doesn’t allow you to prequalify, but you can check your rates with a soft inquiry that won't affect your credit. After checking your rates, if you decide to continue applying, you'll get a hard inquiry, which temporarily lowers your credit score.
  • Must Belong to PenFed Credit Union You must be a PenFed member to qualify for any of its products. Luckily, the credit union is now open to everyone. You can join by opening a savings account and making a $5 deposit.
  • $35,000 Loan Limit – You may be out of luck if you’re looking for a larger personal loan. The limit for PenFed personal loans is $35,000, which is lower than some online lenders.

Type of Personal Loans Offered by PenFed

PenFed offers one type of unsecured personal loan. You can use the loan proceeds for things such as debt consolidation, home improvements, car repairs, and travel. You will have to make payments to creditors on your own, though.

Time to Receive Funds

Depending on the method of payment, approved applicants may receive loan funds as soon as the next business day.

PenFed Personal Loan Features

  • You can apply for a small personal loan of $600.
  • You are allowed to have a co-signer.
  • There are no origination or prepayment fees.
  • PenFed has financial hardship protection.
  • Personal loans are available to PenFed members nationwide.

Apply for a PenFed Personal Loan

There are two ways to apply for a PenFed personal loan. You can complete an application online through its website or apply by phone. Either way, you can check your rates online with a soft credit pull, but they don't consider it prequalification. Once you apply, there will be a hard pull on your credit, which will temporarily lower your credit score.

The online application is a five-step process:

  1. First you will enter information about the loan you desire, your income, as well as your personal information.
  2. On the second step, you will enter further details about your employment.
  3. Next you will pass through the required disclosures and notices.
  4. After that, you will choose your loan funding option.
  5. Last, you will select your repayment option.

After submitting the application, you will be asked to join PenFed Credit Union. To qualify, you must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or resident alien. You can join PenFed by opening a savings account with a $5 deposit.

According to a representative, you may receive immediate approval by phone or online. If PenFed needs to review the application, it may take 24 to 48 hours to get a response. The third option is getting a decline with adverse action, which will include a letter by mail.

If PenFed approves your application, you will receive the complete paperwork and check by mail. The fastest methods to receive it are paying for next day shipping or going to a branch. Otherwise it may take a few days to arrive in the normal mail.

Can I Refinance a Personal Loan With PenFed?

If you have a personal loan from another company, you may be able to refinance and get a better rate with PenFed. However, you can’t refinance an existing PenFed personal loan with a new one.

Verdict

PenFed may be worth a look if your credit score is fair and you need a small personal loan. Even if you don’t qualify for the lowest interest rate, the highest rate is still competitive and PenFed's fees are reasonable. Also, you can apply with a co-signer if you don’t think you will get approved on your own.

It won’t be a good fit if you don't want to join PenFed Credit Union, as you need to be a member to qualify for any of its products. You also can’t prequalify before submitting an application, but you can check rates. This may be a problem for borrowers who already have less-than-perfect credit. Plus, if you're looking to borrow more than $35,000 you'll need to look elsewhere.

Personal loans can be a good way to consolidate high-interest debt or pay for home improvements, but you should always shop around before applying. You should also make sure you can afford to make the monthly payments.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. We collected over 25 data points across more than 50 lenders—including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their needs.