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 biggest 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 may qualify for a PenFed personal loan with a credit score as low as 580. The most creditworthy borrowers may qualify for an interest rate as low as 6.49% . 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 6.49% 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 $500

  • Co-signer allowed

  • Financial hardship protection

Cons
  • No prequalification

  • Must belong to PenFed credit union

  • $25,000 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: $29

Pros Explained

  • Borrow as Little as $500 – PenFed offers personal loans for as little as $500, 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 with a soft inquiry on your credit. You have to complete the application and agree to a hard inquiry—which temporarily lowers your credit score—to see what rates you are eligible for.
  • 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.
  • $20,000 Loan Limit – You may be out of luck if you’re looking for a larger personal loan. The limit for PenFed personal loans is $20,000, which is lower than some online lenders.

COVID-19 Assistance

PenFed personal loan borrowers less than 30 days delinquent can skip one payment at a time with PenFed's self-service courtesy skip payment program. Interest will continue to accrue and extend the life of your loan.

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 $500.
  • 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, there isn’t an option to prequalify with a soft credit pull. Once you apply, there will be a hard pull on your credit, which will temporarily lower your credit score.

The online application is a four-step process:

  1. The first step is answering questions about the purpose, amount, and term of your personal loan. The seven approved purposes are bill consolidation, education expenses, electronic equipment purchase, home improvements, miscellaneous expenses, motorcycle purchase, and vacation expenses. Once you state your desired loan amount, you can use PenFed’s built-in payment calculator to figure out which term is the best fit for your budget.
  2. The next step includes filling out some basic information, including your name, birthdate, contact information, Social Security number, and if you’re applying with a co-signer.
  3. Step three is filling out your residence information, including your address, whether you rent or own, your monthly rent or mortgage payment, and how long you have lived at your current address.
  4. The last step is for your income information, including your employment status, gross monthly income, and how long you have been at your job. You can also note additional income, such as alimony or child support. You must agree to a credit report authorization before submitting the application.

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. This can take five to seven business days.

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. This may be a problem for borrowers who already have less-than-perfect credit. Plus, if you're looking to borrow more than $20,000 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.

Article Sources

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  1. penfed.org. "About PenFed." Accessed May 18, 2020.

  2. Penfed.org. "Personal Loans." Accessed May 18, 2020.

  3. Penfed.org. "Personal Loans: FAQs: Can I pay off my loan early?" Accessed May 18, 2020.

  4. PenFed. "Skip Payment Form." Accessed May 18, 2020.