Pentagon Federal Credit Union, also known as PenFed, is a military credit union that also allows civilians to join. The credit union offers a full suite of financial services to its 1.6 million members in all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, Okinawa and Washington, D.C. PenFed offers competitive rates on car loans and mortgages, as well as innovative credit card offerings and traditional banking services.
Check out this Pentagon Federal Credit Union review to decide if it’s the best credit union for you.
PenFed Credit Union Review
The current economy has made it more of a challenge for everyday households to stay afloat financially, which is why taking advantage of banking products that help save money is essential. Whether switching to a new product saves you $20 a month or $200 a month, the potential savings can add up to a substantial savings fund not too far down the line.
The following are some of the most cost-effective products that Pentagon Federal Credit Union members receive:
- PenFed Savings Account: The savings account at PenFed is not highly demanding of its members, only requiring a $5 minimum deposit. The Regular Savings account currently offers a 0.05% APY.
- PenFed Mortgages: Convenience is also something that’s plentiful at the military credit union. PenFed offers many different mortgage loan options at rates such as 4.328% APR on its 15-year fixed conforming mortgage.
- PenFed Auto Loan Rates: PenFed provides drivers with competitive auto loan rates, starting at 2.49% APR with a 36-month new auto loan.
- PenFed Credit Cards: Any mega-bank can dole out credit cards to its customers, but Pentagon Federal Credit Union surpasses expectations with its credit card offers that earn members cash back on their purchases. PenFed takes this a step further with its Platinum Rewards card by giving members a $100 statement credit on the first $1,500 spent on the card within three months.
Even with this quick snapshot of products, it’s easy to see why more non-military members are joining this military credit union.
PenFed Membership Requirements
If you’re not a member of the military or related to military personnel, you could still be eligible to join. PenFed membership can be attained based on your employment, association membership, volunteerism or military affiliation. Membership is open to members of any of PenFed’s affinity partners:
- American Medical Association
- American Red Cross
- American Society of Military Comptrollers
- Coast Guard Auxiliary Association
- Military Officers Association of America
- National War College Alumni Association
- Navy League of the United States
- Marine Corps League
- United States Department of Energy
- United States Army Warrant Officers Association
PenFed Products and Services
PenFed offers a variety of financial products and services, including checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates, IRAs, credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans and bill consolidation.
The credit union’s Access America Checking account offers APYs as high as 0.5 percent, plus free transactions at over 68,000 ATMs. Savings customers can choose from Money Market Certificates, Regular Savings, Money Market Savings, Coverdell Education Savings Certificates and IRAs.
Those looking to open a credit card can choose from five different account options, all of which have no annual fee. The best card for you will depend on your credit card priorities, as PenFed offers cards with bigger rewards and higher rates, and low-rate cards that do not offer rewards.
PenFed also offers competitive personal loans, with no origination fees and rates as low as 6.49 percent.
Related: 12 Best Credit Unions for Car Loans
PenFed Pros and Cons
Every financial institution has its own advantages and disadvantages. Take a look at PenFed’s pros and cons to help decide if it’s a good fit for your personal finance needs.
- Access to online and mobile banking
- Free transactions at over 68,000 ATMs
- A wide range of financial products and services
- Low, $5 minimum requirement to open a savings account
- Federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)
- Customer service limited to 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST on Sunday
- $10 monthly fee on checking if you do not meet a minimum daily balance requirement of $500
- $1 fee to receive paper credit card statements
- Must qualify for membership to use any of PenFed’s services
Should You Join PenFed?
If you meet eligibility requirements, PenFed credit union can be a good option for those who are aiming to start saving without putting much money down; seeking competitive rates for auto, home and personal loans; or looking to open a new rewards credit card. However, you will not have access to the 24/7 customer services that other financial institutions might offer, and you will have to pay fees for some services and products.
*Rates are accurate as of June 11, 2018.
Jennifer Calonia contributed to the reporting for this article.
More on Credit Unions
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- Here’s Exactly How Much You Should Have Saved in an Emergency Fund
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Credit Unions
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