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Published: Mar 26, 2024 12 min read

Sometimes the money in your bank account just isn’t enough to pay for your credit card debt, home improvements or auto repairs, let alone fulfill a bigger dream. In that case, you might seek out a personal loan.

If you're looking for a personal loan from a credit union, PenFed may be a good fit for you.

Formerly known as the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PenFed is one of the most well-established and trusted credit unions in the country, giving people access to competitive personal loans and other financial products like auto loans, student loans and more since 1935. With plenty of several types of loans, no origination fees, typically lower rates and quick turnaround, it's a clear front-runner for borrowers to consider.

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Loan Amount: $2,000 to $50,000

  • APR: 4.60% - 35.99%
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Sample loan: a four-year $15,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and an APR of 18.34% will require an estimated monthly payment of $421.20 and a total cost of $20,217.43.

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  • Loan amounts of  $250 - $35,000 for any credit type!
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Best credit union for personal loans

PenFed Credit Union is a leading lender (that’s why it made our list of the best personal loans and topped our list of the best credit unions overall), but you should always have a solid plan and comparison shop before you commit to borrowing. Think of how much money you need, exactly how you're going to spend it and how you're going to repay the loan so you can get an idea of whether PenFed's offerings are right for you.

PenFed Credit Union personal loans pros and cons

  • Many types of loans available
  • Competitive rates
  • No origination fee
  • Membership required

Pros explained

This credit union offers plenty of benefits, making it competitive with other top lenders.

Many types of loans available

PenFed offers a wide range of personal loans to help you finance your goals and manage your expenses. Whether you're looking to consolidate debt, make home improvements, buy a new car, cover medical or dental expenses or fund major life events, PenFed has a loan that can fit your needs.

All PenFed's loans have the same low rates with no origination fee, and you can borrow $600 to $50,000 and pay for up to 60 months.

Competitive rates

As of March 2024, PenFed's personal loan APRs run from 7.99% to 17.99% APR. What you see is what you get, as these advertised APRs do not include autopay discounts, which PenFed does not offer. Even if you don't have stellar credit, the maximum APR PenFed offers is notably lower than other lenders — and far below that of credit cards.

No early payment or origination fees

Many loan providers charge a one-time origination fee that covers the administrative and processing costs of your loan application. This fee is typically a percentage of the loan amount and can be significant, especially for larger loans, upwards of 7% in some cases. PenFed doesn't charge an origination fee, nor does it have other hidden fees, such as early payment penalties that are common among other personal loan lenders.

Cons explained

There are a few things that might affect your decision to go with PenFed, especially if you don't want to become a member of the credit union or have a bad financial history.

Membership required

You don't need a membership to start an application for a personal loan at PenFed and view your pre-approved offers. However, to get approved for a loan, you must be a member. While becoming a member is relatively easy, it does require extra effort on your part.

To become a member, you need to open a savings account with a minimum deposit of $5. You can do this during the process of applying for a personal loan.

That said, this is a con for all credit unions, as they require membership. PenFed, in particular, actually has very lax member eligibility requirements.

PenFed personal loans: offerings

You can use PenFed personal loans for debt consolidation, home improvements, transportation, health matters and other life events. No matter what your personal goals are, PenFed likely has a loan for you.

Debt consolidation

If you have multiple high-interest debts, such as credit card balances or medical bills, a debt consolidation loan from PenFed may be helpful. With a debt consolidation loan from PenFed, you can combine all of your debts into a single monthly payment with a fixed interest rate (likely much lower than credit card rates) and a term of up to 60 months. This can make managing debt easier with faster payoff rates.

Home improvement

If you're planning a major home renovation or repair project, a PenFed home improvement loan can quickly give you the necessary funds to complete the work. A home improvement loan offers competitive interest rates applicable to almost any project, from upgrading your kitchen or bathroom to adding a new room to your home.


A car breaking down is one of the most inconvenient things that can happen to an auto owner. Repairs don't come cheap, either. If this happens to you and you don't have the money for urgent repairs, PenFed can help cover the cost at a rate that's often lower than credit card interest rates.

Car repairs are time-sensitive. In almost all cases, drivers need their cars back on the road quickly. The loan process has a quick turnaround time, meaning the money will be in your hands so your car can get into the shop right away.

Life events

From an unexpected tax bill to a dental emergency, there are several life events for which you may need quick access to cash. PenFed allows you to cover these significant expenses and pay at your own pace.

As with all PenFed personal loans, you can borrow up to $50,000 for your wedding, hobbies, pets, K-12 education and more.

PenFed personal loans: pricing and terms

PenFed offers competitive annual percentage rates, or APRs. As of March 2024, the APR range on PenFed personal loans runs from 7.99% to 17.99%.

The APRs listed above do not include autopay discounts, which PenFed does not offer. Many lenders include that discount in their advertised rates, but you can receive a 7.99% regardless of signing up for autopay.

Exact personal loan rates depend on many personal-finance factors such as income and credit score. While PenFed does not have explicit minimum credit score requirements, you will need excellent credit to get the best APR. If your credit score is low, consider pulling your credit report to check for errors — or, if you have a light or bad credit history, you can apply for a loan with a cosigner or co-borrower who has better credit.

PenFed personal loans also give you the flexibility to choose the repayment terms that work best for your financial situation, with options ranging from one to five years.

Additionally, PenFed doesn’t charge any early-repayment penalties or origination fees. However, it does charge a late fee of $29 if you are more than five days behind on your loan payment.

PenFed personal loans: financial stability

PenFed is an established financial organization that has been serving customers since 1935 and publishes annual stability reports. Weiss Ratings graded the credit union at a C, which is a downgrade from a B+ in recent years. The ratings firm dinged the financial institution for having low liquidity and profitability compared to the industry average.

However, this is more a concern for depositors than borrowers. Of course, PenFed is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration, providing security for your deposit accounts if you do have them. In the very unlikely event PenFed goes bankrupt, your loan should not be affected.

PenFed personal loans: accessibility

PenFed offers reasonably good customer service to its members, according to our review of online feedback across several platforms. They're available all days of the week, and it's easy to reach out through various channels.


PenFed's customer service for members is available seven days a week at the following times:

  • Monday - Friday: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (EST)
  • Saturday: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (EST)
  • Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EST)

This schedule applies only to phone support on general matters. You can apply for a personal loan or send an inquiry anytime through the company's online forms. PenFed also has an online help center where you can look for answers to your questions whenever needed.

Contact information

You can reach their support team by calling 724-473-6333, submitting your inquiry directly on the company's website at any time or sending postal mail or fax.

PenFed also has physical branches across 13 states.

And you can send general mail to:

PenFed Credit Union

PO Box 1432

Alexandria, VA 22313-2032

User experience

One of the main benefits of PenFed personal loans is the easy application process. This is one of the aspects most mentioned in positive reviews.

To apply for a loan, all you have to do is go to the website or mobile app. First, check your rate. PenFed will do a soft credit check that won't affect your score. If you like your rate, you can proceed with the application by selecting one of the pre-approved offers, becoming a member and providing all the necessary documentation.

Once you're verified, you'll receive your funds in one to two business days.

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PenFed personal loans: customer satisfaction

While some reviewers have expressed negative feedback, the majority of customer reviews on review websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are positive. Many reviews praise PenFed's competitive APRs and the ease and speed of the application and approval process, while negative comments sometimes mention unresponsive customer service.

PenFed personal loans FAQ

Is PenFed good for personal loans?

Yes, PenFed is a reliable provider of personal loans and more. Thanks to its low rates and flexible terms, it's among the best credit union lenders. The application process is easy, and you can borrow up to $50,000.

What are PenFed personal loan credit score requirements?

PenFed doesn't disclose its minimum required credit score. To get the best terms, it’s generally recommended that you have a FICO score of 670 or higher.

Does PenFed do a hard credit pull?

Only after you select a pre-approved offer. If you request to see the rate you'll get, PenFed does a soft credit pull that won't affect your credit.

What credit score does PenFed pull for personal loans?

PenFed bases its loan terms off of your FICO Score, which is a brand name credit score developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation. Personal finance apps and credit card providers may show you “educational” credit scores or Vantage scores, so be sure to check your FICO score before applying.

How we evaluated PenFed personal loans

To accurately evaluate PenFed, we looked at its benefits, disadvantages, offerings, user experience, financial stability as well as customer reviews posted on the Better Business Bureau and other review sites.

Summary of Money's PenFed personal loans review

PenFed personal loans are exemplary when it comes to credit unions. The low rates and fast application process are the main reasons it has earned this spot.

If you need to get a personal loan in a hurry, PenFed is worth checking out. You can see your rate instantly on their website without affecting your credit.

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