PenFed Personal Loan Lender Review

Updated: February 14, 2024

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PenFed stands out as a personal loan lender for its flexibility in loan usage, financial assistance programs and absence of origination and early payoff fees. The quick online application process and credit score-friendly rate checks are major advantages. However, the membership requirement and lack of detailed eligibility criteria might not suit everyone. PenFed is ideal for borrowers who value transparency and support, especially those comfortable with credit union membership and looking for a lender that offers more than just a loan.

  • PenFed

    • 7.99% to 17.99%APR Range
    • UndisclosedMinimum Credit Score
    • Up to $50,000Loan Amount Range
    • Up to 60 monthsRepayment Terms
    • 1 to 2 business daysTime to Receive Funds

    PenFed has many features that make it a great choice for a personal loan. First, the absence of early payoff or origination fees is a big plus. This allows you to pay off your loan early without extra costs, potentially saving money on interest. It also makes the loan cost more transparent, as you won't have unexpected fees added to your borrowed amount.

    PenFed offers support during financial hardship, like deferred payments or forbearance plans, providing peace of mind. The quick and easy online application process and the ability to check rates without affecting your credit score make getting a loan with PenFed hassle-free. The convenience and nationwide availability set PenFed apart from other lenders. These features ensure a borrower-friendly experience, making PenFed an appealing option for personal loan needs.


    • No early payoff or origination fees
    • Financial assistance programs available
    • Quick online application process
    • Rate checking without affecting credit score
    • Nationwide availability, including Guam and Puerto Rico


    • Requires membership for loan approval
    • Minimum monthly payment of $50
    • Late and returned payment fees apply
    • Limited information on specific eligibility criteria

Features of PenFed

PenFed offers versatile personal loans, allowing you to cover various expenses. When choosing, consider key features like fees, loan terms and customer service. PenFed provides clear loan terms and efficient customer service, making your loan experience smooth. PenFed also has several online features that make managing your loan convenient.

What You Can Use Your Funds For

Unlike some lenders, PenFed offers flexibility and doesn't restrict how you can use your funds. This freedom allows you to tailor the loan to your specific needs. Here's how you might use a PenFed personal loan:

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    Debt Consolidation

    If you're juggling multiple debts with high interest rates, a PenFed personal loan can be a smart solution. By consolidating these debts into one loan, you might benefit from lower interest rates and a single, more manageable monthly payment. This can lead to significant savings over time and simplify your financial management.

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    Home Improvement

    Whether you're planning a major remodel or need to make essential repairs, PenFed personal loans can finance your home improvement projects. This investment can not only improve your daily living experience but can also increase the value of your home, making it a worthwhile financial decision.

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    PenFed’s personal loans can offer the necessary fund to buy a new car, repair your existing vehicle or even cover other transportation-related costs. This ensures that your transportation needs, a crucial part of daily life, are met without financial strain.

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    Medical and Dental

    PenFed personal loans provide a financial cushion for unexpected medical or dental bills so you can focus on your health without the added stress of high medical costs. This can be especially helpful for procedures not covered by your health insurance plan.

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    Life Events

    Life’s big moments, like a wedding, a dream vacation or furthering your education, often come with significant costs. A personal loan from PenFed can help you fund these milestones, making them more attainable and less financially stressful.

PenFed’s personal loans offer versatile financial solutions for a range of financial needs. Their flexibility and adaptability make them an attractive option for borrowers looking to finance various aspects of their life, from managing debts to funding life's important events.

Loan Terms for a PenFed Personal Loan

PenFed offers personal loans with competitive APRs (Annual Percentage Rates). Your rate is determined based on your credit information and other factors like your PenFed membership length. Remember, not everyone will qualify for the lowest rate since it depends on having an excellent credit history.

The terms of PenFed personal loans can extend up to 60 months. The lender also allows customization of your payment schedule, offering monthly or biweekly options, especially if you use your PenFed account for repayments.

You can borrow up to $50,000, which means you can tailor the loan amount to your specific need, whether for a large project or consolidating debts. Understanding these terms helps you make an informed decision, ensuring you choose a loan that aligns with your financial goals and repayment capability.

PenFed Personal Loan Fees

Unlike some lenders, PenFed does not charge an early payoff penalty or origination fee, and there are no hidden fees. The transparency lets you plan your loan repayment without worrying about unexpected costs.

However, PenFed does have specific fees in certain situations:

  • Minimum Monthly Payment: All loans require a minimum monthly payment of $50, ensuring consistent repayment progress.

  • Late Payment Fee: If your payment is over five days late, a $29 fee applies. Staying on schedule with your payments helps you avoid this.

  • Returned Loan Payment Fee: For any returned loan payment, check, or ACH, a fee of $30 is charged. This usually occurs if there are insufficient funds in your account.

These fees are part of managing your PenFed personal loan. Knowing them upfront helps you avoid surprises and ensures a smoother loan repayment experience.

PenFed Personal Loan Repayment Assistance

Choosing PenFed for your personal loan means having support if financial challenges arise. For example, it provides various assistance options like deferred payments, allowing you some breathing room by temporarily postponing payments. Forbearance plans are available, too, pausing your payments during tough times. If you need to adjust how you repay your loan, PenFed can help with a repayment plan or modify your loan terms.

The Debt Protection program adds a layer of security, potentially canceling your loan balance or monthly payments in case of unexpected life events like death, disability or involuntary unemployment. You can opt out of this protection anytime, and if canceled within the first 30 days, PenFed refunds any fees paid. It also allows the option to skip a payment once every 12 months. However, remember that interest accumulates, which might increase your final payment.

These supports demonstrate PenFed’s commitment to helping you through any financial ups and downs during your loan term.

PenFed Customer Service

Good customer service is key when choosing a personal loan lender. PenFed offers various ways to reach out.

You can call PenFed's customer service team at 800-247-5626. They're available during the following times:

  • Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET
  • Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET
  • Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET.

If you prefer writing, use their secure online messaging platform. For round-the-clock help, their 24/7 help center lets you chat with an agent or browse frequently asked questions.

Having these options means you can always find the support you need whenever you need it, making PenFed a reliable choice for your personal loan.

PenFed Personal Loan Online Resources

PenFed offers several online tools to help you manage and understand your loan. For instance, its website features a comprehensive learning center rich with articles tailored to personal loans. These cover various topics, including the meaning of loan pre-approval, student loan options and financing for major life events like weddings, providing borrowers with the knowledge to help them make more informed financial choices.

PenFed's online banking platform makes managing your loan more convenient. You can easily track your loan balance, view payment history and access detailed account information from your computer. Meanwhile, the PenFed mobile app enhances your experience further. Available 24/7, it allows you to manage your money on the go. It simplifies loan payments, bill payments and fund transfers between accounts, ensuring you're always in control of your finances, wherever you are.

Qualifying for a PenFed Personal Loan

Understanding the eligibility criteria for a PenFed personal loan before applying will help you assess if you're a good fit for the loan and what you might need to qualify.

A unique aspect of PenFed's eligibility is its membership requirement. Although you don't need to be a member to apply, membership is necessary if you proceed with the loan. That includes opening and maintaining a savings account with PenFed. Anyone of legal age can join, with no military affiliation needed.

While PenFed doesn't specify other detailed criteria for personal loans, typical industry standards can give you an idea of what might be expected. These include the following:

  • Credit Score: A good credit score, usually around 660 or higher, is often sought by lenders. It reflects your creditworthiness and repayment history.

  • Income Requirements: Having a stable income is crucial. Lenders check this to ensure you can manage loan repayments. The exact minimum income isn't specified, but a steady job or consistent income source is a plus.

  • Debt-to-Income Ratio: Your DTI ratio shows how much of your income you use to pay debts. A lower figure, ideally below 40%, indicates better financial health and is preferred by lenders.

Understanding these criteria can better prepare you for your loan application with PenFed, improving your chances of approval and securing a loan that fits your financial situation.

Is a PenFed Personal Loan Right for You?

Your choice of personal loan lender affects your financial future, so consider if the terms, services and support align with your needs. Evaluating whether PenFed fits your financial situation, goals and comfort level with its offerings ensures you choose a loan that supports your financial well-being, now and in the future.

Who Can Benefit From a Personal Loan From PenFed

For those who value peace of mind in uncertain times, PenFed’s financial assistance programs are a significant draw. Knowing that options like deferred payments and forbearance plans are available can be reassuring if you face financial hardship. It makes PenFed a considerate choice for borrowers who want a safety net in their financial journey.

PenFed’s quick and easy online application process is ideal for those who prioritize convenience. The ability to apply for a loan from the comfort of your home, without a lengthy or complex process, appeals to those who prefer a straightforward approach to borrowing.

Individuals keen on protecting their credit score while shopping for loans may find PenFed’s rate check a major advantage since it uses a soft credit pull. This allows you to explore your options without pulling your credit score down.

Who Shouldn’t Secure a Personal Loan From PenFed

One key aspect of PenFed’s personal loan process is the requirement to become a member upon loan approval. If you're not interested in joining a credit union or opening a savings account as part of the membership, PenFed may not be the right choice for you. Potential borrowers who prefer more flexibility in their lender relationships should consider this.

PenFed provides limited information on specific eligibility criteria for personal loans. Borrowers who prefer clear, detailed guidelines, such as minimum income and credit score requirements, might find this lack of transparency challenging. If having all the details upfront is important for your peace of mind and financial planning, you might want to explore lenders that offer more explicit criteria.

PenFed does have fees for late and returned payments. If you're seeking a lender with a no-fee policy for such instances, PenFed’s approach might not align with your preferences.

How to Apply for a PenFed Personal Loan

Knowing the steps to apply for a PenFed personal loan can speed up your application and improve your chances of getting the loan.

Check Your Rate

Begin by checking your loan rate with PenFed. This step involves a soft credit pull, which won’t affect your credit score. It’s a preliminary check to see the terms you might qualify for.

Application and Credit Inquiry

If you choose to proceed after seeing your rate, you must officially apply. This requires a hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score. A hard credit inquiry is a more thorough credit check that lenders use to make final loan decisions.

Select an Offer

PenFed will present you with multiple pre-approved offers based on your application. You have 30 days to choose an offer that best suits your needs.

Submit Documentation

Once you've selected an offer, you’ll need to provide necessary documentation to verify your income. This might include recent paystubs, retirement statements, bank statements or tax returns, depending on your income situation. You have an additional 30 days to submit these documents.

Verify Identity

As part of the verification process, PenFed may request a copy of your government-issued photo ID, a recent utility bill and possibly your social security card.

Loan Approval and Signing

After your documents are reviewed and your application is approved, you’ll need to sign a promissory note. This typically needs to be done within 7 days of approval.

Receive Funds

Once everything is verified and the promissory note is signed, the lender will disburse the funds. The timeline for receiving your money depends on the chosen method — one to two business days for direct deposit or ACH, and five to seven business days for checks. The exact timing may vary based on your financial institution and the loan processing time.

Remember, incomplete applications are withdrawn, requiring you to submit a new application, so ensure all steps are completed promptly.

What to Do If You’re Denied

Being denied a personal loan from PenFed can be disheartening, but it’s not the end of your financial journey. There are steps you can take to understand and potentially improve your situation:

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    Understand the Reasons for Denial

    PenFed will provide reasons for your loan denial. Take the time to understand them, as they pinpoint what aspects of your financial profile need improvement. Common reasons include an unfavorable credit score, insufficient income or high debt-to-income ratio.

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    Boost Your Financial Profile

    Work on improving the factors that led to your denial. It might mean paying down existing debts, increasing your income or improving your credit score. Small, consistent steps can make a big difference in your financial health.

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    Consider a Co-borrower

    PenFed allows you to apply with a co-borrower who shares the responsibility for the loan. If they have a higher income or better credit score, it could help you qualify for a lower interest rate, making the loan more affordable.

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    Look for Alternative Financing Options

    If a personal loan from PenFed isn’t feasible, explore other options. These might include exploring other financial institutions, credit unions, online lenders or even peer-to-peer lending platforms. Each has different requirements and terms, so one of them might be a better fit for your situation.

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    Seek Professional Financial Advice

    A financial advisor can provide personalized guidance on improving your creditworthiness and navigating your options. They can help you understand your financial situation better and plan for the future.

A denied personal loan application is a chance to reassess and strengthen your financial standing. A proactive approach increases your chances for future loan approvals and also contributes to your overall financial wellbeing.

FAQ About PenFed as a Personal Loan Lender

To help you better understand PenFed as a personal loan lender, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions. The answers can provide more clarity on PenFed’s personal loan offerings, requirements and features.

Does PenFed have restrictions on how you can use your funds from a personal loan?
What is the minimum credit score requirement for a PenFed personal loan?
How long does PenFed take to approve a personal loan?
Does PenFed have a mobile app?
Is a PenFed personal loan secured or unsecured?
How much can I borrow using a PenFed personal loan?
What fees will I encounter with a PenFed personal loan?
How does applying for a PenFed personal loan affect my credit score?
Does PenFed offer an autopay discount for personal loans?
Can you have co-signers on a PenFed personal loan?

About Christopher Boston

Christopher Boston headshot

Christopher (Croix) Boston was the Head of Loans content at MoneyGeek, with over five years of experience researching higher education, mortgage and personal loans.

Boston has a bachelor's degree from the Seattle Pacific University. They pride themselves in using their skills and experience to create quality content that helps people save and spend efficiently.

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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.