In a Nutshell
- Caters to Americans who have served their country
- Offers discounted rates when using network agent
- Free 60-day rate lock on some mortgages
- Doesn’t offer FHA loans
- Borrowers must maintain credit union membership
PenFed at a Glance
|Loan types:||Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity|
|Featured Loans:||Conforming, Non-Conforming, Jumbo, VA|
|Repayment terms:||10-30 years|
|Minimum Down Payment:||0-20%|
|Minimum Credit Score:||620|
|Suitable for:||Active and retired servicepeople looking to get a home loan with a low down payment|
PenFed is the second largest credit union in the United States, serving the entire defense establishment. Anyone who serves or has served in the Armed Forces, works for the US Government or Department of Defense, or works for or has membership in any of around 170 qualifying organizations, may obtain PenFed membership and apply for a loan. PenFed specializes in VA loans. It also offers conventional mortgages, refinancing, and home equity products with competitive rates and low down payments.
As mentioned, PenFed accepts people from around 170 qualifying organizations. The full list, which can be found with the mortgage application form on PenFed’s website, contains a range of defense-related organizations in the private, public and non-profit sectors.
PenFed is right for:
- Getting a home loan with a low down payment
- Starting out your mortgage with low initial monthly payments
- Drawing on your home equity with a home equity loan or line of credit
Types of Loans
PenFed specializes in VA loans, but this isn’t the only thing it offers. With PenFed, borrowers can obtain conventional loans with options like low down payments and flexible monthly payments.
Here’s the full list of PenFed mortgage products:
- Conforming mortgage
Regular fixed-rate or adjustable rate mortgages, with terms ranging from 10-30 years. Some conforming mortgages come with features like low initial monthly payments, free 60-day rate lock, and a discounted rate for using a network real estate agent.
- Jumbo mortgage
Like a regular mortgage, but for loan amounts of between $484,350 to $2 million.
- VA loan
Government-backed loan for former and retired servicepeople and spouses who meet certain conditions. Comes with fixed rate and includes option of zero down payment.
- Home Equity Loan (HEL)
Lets homeowners borrow against their home equity with one-off lump sum.
- Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
Lets homeowner withdraw money against their home equity, up to a pre-approved limit.
The Application Process
Like other credit unions, PenFed only offers products to its members. In PenFed’s case, membership is restricted to the following people:
- Active and formed Armed Forces personnel
- US Government employees
- Employees and members of qualifying organizations with links to the defense industry
Any PenFed member can apply for a mortgage online or over the phone, provided they meet the following conditions:
- US citizen or legal residents.
- Aged 18 years or more.
- Opening and maintaining a PenFed savings or share account with at least $5 balance at all times.
- Credit score of 620+
Pros and Cons
With PenFed, borrowers get to choose from a wide range of loan options and features. PenFed offers 22 different types of mortgages based on different combinations of loan type (e.g. conforming, jumbo, VA) and loan terms. It offers a ton of features, 2 of which we’d like to single out. With the free 60-day rate lock, borrowers can lock in a rate on certain mortgages without having to commit for 2 months. With the PenFed Real Estate Rewards program, borrowers save 0.5% of their loan amount up to $20,000 for using a network real estate agent and preferred title provider to purchase their new home.
The one real downside to PenFed’s service is the lack of FHA loans. FHA loans are a type of government-backed mortgage that offer borrowers with sub-620 credit an opportunity to get into the housing market. If you get rejected by PenFed because of poor credit, you may find yourself having to turn to another lender for a mortgage.
Rates and Fees—The Bare Basics
One of the great things about PenFed is the transparency. Borrowers can see rates and APRs for all products by clicking the Compare Rates button on PenFed’s home page.
Each loan type comes with its own set of repayment terms:
- Fixed-rate conforming loans carry options of 10-, 15-, 20-, or 30-year terms.
- Fixed-rate VA loans carry 15-year or 30-year terms.
- Fixed-rate jumbo mortgages have 15-year or 30-year terms.
- Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) come with the following options: 15/15, 10/1, 7/1, 5/5, 5/1, 3/1.
Help & Support
Most credit unions treat their customers well, and PenFed appears to be no different in this regard. It offers support via phone, email, live chat, and even fax.
How This Company Compares
|PenFed||J.G. Wentworth||Quicken Loans|
|Min. Credit Score||620||500||500|
|Min. Down Payment||0%||0%||3.5%|
|Terms||10-30 years||15-30 years||15-30 years|
|Suitable For||VA loans and low down payments||Choices and convenience||Streamlined online application|
As a credit union, PenFed is more exclusive than large mortgage lenders. This has its pros and cons. On the downside, PenFed offers fewer options for borrowers with poor credit. On the upside, eligible borrowers can find great deals with PenFed, including lower APRs, lower down payments, and lower monthly payments than those offered by PenFed’s competitors.
PenFed is a good all-around option for anybody who qualifies as an eligible borrower. PenFed doesn’t serve all people and it doesn’t offer all types of mortgage products. However, it takes extra good care of the millions of Americans who are eligible for its mortgages, with perks like discounted APRs, low down payments, and low introductory monthly payments. If you belong to any of the 170 qualifying organizations and are currently searching for a house, we recommend checking out PenFed.
Q: What does PenFed membership involve?
A: To join PenFed, simply open a savings or share account and maintain at least a $5 balance at all times. This entitles you to apply for any PenFed financial product.
Q: Does PenFed offer services other than mortgages?
A: Yes. PenFed offers other banking services, including checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and personal loans.
Q: Where is PenFed based?
A: PenFed accepts online applications. It also has branches in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and at military bases in Guam, Japan, Portugal, and Puerto Rico.
Q: Is PenFed insured?
A: As a credit union, PenFed is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union
7940 Jones Branch Dr, Tysons