Navy Federal vs. American Express: Which Personal Loan Is Right for You?

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Edited byMorgan Hull

Updated: October 23, 2023

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Navy Federal and American Express are well-known, top-rated institutions that provide financial services. Navy Federal is a not-for-profit, member-owned organization that caters to active and retired personnel from all branches of the U.S. military and their families, whereas American Express is a multinational corporation that ranks fourth globally in terms of payment card services.

Each of these lenders has unique perks that may be highly attractive to consumers. To help you decide which lender is the perfect fit for your needs, MoneyGeek gathered the latest data and performed comparisons on several important criteria.

Use this up-to-date information to check if you meet the eligibility requirements and to gain a deeper understanding of what each lender has to offer.


Navy Federal or American Express: Overview

MoneyGeek provided a comparative analysis of Navy Federal vs. American Express to help you decide which of these lenders is better suited for your financial needs and goals. We’ve outlined the key features of each lender and picked out a winner on several key criteria that we think matter most when selecting a personal loan.

Based on our analysis, Navy Federal is the better option for eligible borrowers who value flexible loan amounts and repayment terms. But if having low APRs is your main consideration, American Express is the ideal choice, particularly for borrowers with excellent credit.

Navy Federal


American Express


APR Range


The APR, or annual percentage rate, is the percentage of your personal loan in interest that you must pay back each year. This rate tends to vary greatly by lender. It’s essential to secure a loan with the lowest possible interest rate if you want to keep costs at a minimum.

Whereas Navy Federal charges APRs between 7.49% and 18%, American Express has a wider range of APRs from 4.93% to 19.97%.

Both lenders have creditworthiness-based APRs, which means that the lowest rates are generally reserved for individuals with strong credit. Borrowers with excellent credit profiles can expect lower APRs from American Express than from Navy Federal. In contrast, borrowers with less-than-stellar credit will prefer Navy Federal’s slightly lower maximum APR.

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American Express has a slight edge over Navy Federal in terms of providing a more favorable APR range. Borrowers with the highest credit scores may enjoy APRs as low as 4.93%, which is a very competitive rate for a personal loan.

A loan with a lower APR confers the advantage of having a lower total cost over the course of the loan. This underscores the importance of comparing rates from multiple companies to ensure that you’re getting the best possible rate.

That said, there are other factors that are as important when picking out the right lender for your unique needs.

Minimum Credit Score


The great news for NFCU members is that its personal loans don’t have a credit score requirement. This suggests that even applicants with bad credit may be approved. In contrast, eligible American Express cardholders who wish to secure an American Express personal loan need to have a credit score of 660 or above to qualify.

A credit score is issued by major credit bureaus, namely, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, using information from your credit report. It ranges from 300 to 850, and this score is used by creditors to measure the level of risk that they’re taking by giving you a loan. Your assessed creditworthiness not only affects your chances of securing a loan but also has an impact on the APRs, loan amounts and repayment terms that you’ll qualify for.

There are many factors that affect your credit score, including your credit and payment history and outstanding balances on your accounts.

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Navy Federal doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, making it the clear winner in this category. In contrast, American Express requires a minimum credit score of 660 to qualify for its personal loans, which essentially closes the door on borrowers with bad or no credit.

A low credit score results in higher APRs, and this increases the total cost that you’ll pay for the entire course of the loan. But you must also consider other factors when deciding which personal loan is the best option for you.

Loan Amount Range


Navy Federal offers personal loans ranging from $250 to $50,000, while American Express offers loans between $3,500 and $40,000.

Keep in mind that the optimal loan amount for you will depend on your intended use of the funds, and this may differ from the actual amount that your lender offers you.

Having said that, a loan with a higher minimum amount and lower maximum cap might not be ideal for certain borrowers who are looking for a smaller or larger loan amount. For instance, individuals who are looking to build or rebuild their credit may prefer to borrow smaller amounts with more manageable monthly payments. Likewise, a loan with a lower maximum cap may not be enough to cover large expenses.

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Navy Federal outperforms American Express in terms of the flexibility of its loan amounts. Navy Federal offers a wider range of loan limits from $250 to $50,000, while American Express has a more narrow range between $3,500 and $40,000.

Before applying for a loan, it’s important to have a ballpark figure of much you’ll need to meet your financial goal. Knowing this amount will help you resist the temptation of borrowing more than you need and can afford.

It’s also important to examine other factors when choosing a lender, such as the repayment terms, which we will discuss next.

Repayment Terms


Navy Federal gives its consumers greater flexibility in terms of repayment options. Whereas American Express only offers terms from 24 to 84 months, Navy Federal gives more generous options from 12 to 180 months, which may accommodate the preferences and needs of most borrowers.

Your loan’s repayment term is the amount of time you agree to pay back your loan. Given the same loan amount, a loan with a lengthier repayment term generally has lower monthly payments and higher APRs compared to a loan with a shorter repayment term. Therefore, the ideal scenario is for you to secure a loan that has the shortest repayment with monthly installments that you can easily afford.

When determining your repayment term, lenders will typically consider your credit score, debt-to-income ratio and income.

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Navy Federal clearly beats American Express in this category. It offers repayment terms from 12 to 180 months compared to loan terms from American Express of 24 to 84 months.

Although a shorter loan typically comes with lower APRs, it also requires you to pay higher monthly installments. Before applying for a loan, it’s important to consider how much you can easily afford for monthly payments on top of your current financial obligations.

But the repayment term is only one piece of the puzzle; borrowers must also consider other factors, like loan amount, APR and loan disbursement time.

Time to Receive Funds


Navy Federal provides next-day funding in most cases. In contrast, American Express offers same-day funding after you submit your signed personal loan agreement. This difference might be substantial for individuals that need funds urgently.

Both lenders provide their consumers the option of a fully digital loan application process, which speeds up the processing and verification time compared to applying in person or via phone. This allows borrowers to have quicker access to loan funds.

To further facilitate your application, we recommend that you prepare the necessary documents beforehand, such as proof of your identification, address and income.

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American Express is the better option if you’re looking for a lender with a faster loan disbursement. Most borrowers receive funds on the same day their loan is approved. Navy Federal takes a little longer time to disburse loan funds.

Borrowers who are in urgent need of extra cash, such as those who face a medical emergency, will prefer a lender that provides same-day or next-day funding. But those who intend to use the funds for non-urgent matters might not consider this as a deciding factor.

Final Thoughts

Navy Federal outshines American Express on most of the criteria that MoneyGeek used in this comparative analysis. It offers a wider range of loan amounts and lacks a credit score requirement.

Note that there are membership requirements for both lenders. Whereas Navy Federal only provides personal loans to NFCU members, American Express grants personal loans only to eligible American Express cardholders.

Based on our analysis, Navy Federal is the better option for:

  • Military personnel and their family members who are still building or rebuilding their credit
  • NFCU members who have urgent financial needs and prefer fast funding
  • NFCU members who want greater flexibility in loan amounts and repayment terms

But American Express is better suited for:

  • American Express cardholders who have excellent credit and are looking for low APRs

Keep in mind that these recommendations are not a substitute for your own assessment of your needs and circumstances. Ultimately, you are in the best position to decide how important a factor is given your financial situation.

For more information on these lenders, read MoneyGeek’s Navy Federal personal loan review and American Express personal loan review.

Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Loan Lenders

There are many benefits and risks associated with personal loans. To help you understand these, MoneyGeek provided answers to the most common questions about personal loan lenders below.

Most lenders will ask for proof of your identity, address and income in addition to a completed loan application form.

All consumers are entitled to a credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion every 12 months. You may request your free copy from the Annual Credit Report website.

Some lenders do a soft credit pull to check if you meet their eligibility requirements for a loan. But if you choose to proceed with your loan application, your lender will perform a hard inquiry for a more thorough examination of your credit report.

No. There is great variability in terms of interest rates across lenders. It is therefore always best to compare rates to ensure that you’re getting the best rates for your particular situation.

Fees tend to vary by lender. The most common fees that lenders charge are application fees, origination fees, prepayment penalties and late fees.

An online application is more convenient, saves time and often is approved more quickly than in-person applications.

Yes, lenders generally allow early repayment of personal loans. However, check if your chosen lender charges a prepayment penalty fee for this.

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The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the rates mentioned may have changed. We recommend visiting the lender's website for the most up-to-date information available.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, lender or other entity. Learn more about our editorial policies and expert editorial team.