Navy Federal Credit Union personal loan review: Competitive rates for military members

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In a Nutshell

Navy Federal Credit Union offers personal loans with an attractive range of annual percentage rates, or APRs. To qualify for membership with NFCU, you’ll have to have ties to the U.S. military — and you need to join the credit union to apply for a loan. Loans can be used for debt consolidation, home improvement or other purposes and, if approved, may be available quickly through direct deposit to your checking or savings account.
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Pros Cons
Lengthy loan terms Longer-term loans have higher APRs
Secured and unsecured loans offered Only active-duty military, retired military, military veterans or people with other eligible military ties can join the credit union
Funds may be available through direct deposit   

What you need to know about a Navy Federal Credit Union personal loan

Just like civilian credit unions that typically charge fewer fees than banks, Navy Federal doesn’t charge fees for certain checking accounts, credit card balance transfers and foreign transactions. To take advantage of the benefits NFCU offers, you’ll need to be a member.

Here are some key features of Navy Federal personal loans.

Military ties required

Only NFCU members can apply for an NFCU personal loan. To become a member, you’ll have to be connected to the U.S. military as one of the following:

  • Service member in the U.S. Armed Forces, including active-duty members, veterans, retirees or annuitants of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Air National Guard
  • Delayed Entry Program participant
  • U.S. Department of Defense officer candidate or ROTC participant
  • DOD reservist
  • DOD civilian employee, retiree or annuity beneficiary
  • U.S. government employee assigned to a DOD installation
  • DOD contractor assigned to a U.S. government installation
  • Eligible family member of somebody described above

To become a new NFCU member, you’ll have to provide your Social Security number, home address, and driver’s license or government ID number. You’ll also have to supply a credit card number or bank routing and account numbers to make an initial deposit into your new NFCU account.

There’s an exception to the union membership rules — you can add a joint owner to your account. Having a joint owner means you’re sharing an account with someone who isn’t a member and extending your benefits to them.

Secured loan options

In addition to unsecured personal loans, Navy Federal also offers two secured personal loan options. If you get an NFCU secured loan, you’ll use shares from your Navy Federal account or funds from a share certificate or jumbo certificate to secure the loan. The benefit of getting a secured loan through NFCU? You may end up paying a much lower APR than you would on an unsecured loan. But you’ll risk Navy Federal using your collateral to repay your loan if you don’t make payments.

Long loan terms

Navy Federal offers loans with terms as long as 180 months, or 15 years. The minimum loan amount for a term of 61 to 84 months is $25,000, and the minimum loan amount for a term of 85 to 180 months is $30,000.

Who a Navy Federal Credit Union loan is good for

NFCU was founded in 1933 with just seven members. Today, the credit union serves more than 9 million members and holds more than $125 billion in assets. NFCU has 335 branches, including 26 international locations and 75 locations on military bases.

NFCU offers an APR discount of 0.25% to qualifying active-duty and retired military members. To apply for the discount, you’ll have to go to a branch or speak with a phone representative. There are other requirements for this offer, so make sure to ask for more information when you call or visit a branch.

An NFCU personal loan may be worth considering if you’re a member of the credit union and looking to finance home renovations, debt consolidation, post-college career training or a sudden financial hardship like damage to your home, a family emergency or a car wreck. Navy Federal advises against using personal loans for vacations, weddings, birthdays or graduation celebrations, or spending more than you can afford.

A secured loan from NFCU can be a good option if you need to establish or rebuild credit.

How to apply with Navy Federal Credit Union

To apply for an NFCU personal loan, call the credit union, visit a branch or register for online access on the credit union’s website.

To complete your application, you’ll have to provide your identifying information, including your name, current employer and contact details. You’ll also want to have your requested loan amount and preferred loan term ready. If you’re applying with a co-applicant, you’ll also have to provide some of your co-applicant’s personal information.

If you want Navy Federal to send your loan documents to a Navy Federal branch or another address other than your principal mailing address, you’ll have to call the credit union to make those arrangements.

If a Navy Federal personal loan isn’t right for you, consider these options

  • USAA: USAA caters to military members and their families and offers personal loans with a range of interest rates, depending on your credit.
  • PenFed: PenFed offers personal loans and personal lines of credit. But you’ll need to be a member to apply.

About the author: Marcie Geffner is an award-winning freelance reporter, editor, writer and book critic. Her work has been featured online and in print by the Chicago Sun-Times, Fox Business Network Onlin… Read more.