4 Of The Best Personal Loans Offered By Credit Unions

Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We earn a commission from affiliate partners on many offers, but not all offers on Select are from affiliate partners.

Personal loans are a popular way to fund large expenses because they typically carry lower interest rates compared to credit cards, can provide as much as $100,000 in funding and can be used for just about any purpose, including debt consolidation, medical bills, a home renovation, a vacation and more.

This is a form of installment debt that’s usually unsecured (meaning, you don’t have to put up any collateral like your car or home in order to borrow money) and must be paid back in regular increments plus interest over a set period of time.

There are many ways you can get a personal loan. Some big banks carry personal loans and there are some online lenders that provide a hassle-free way to apply. You can even get a personal loan from some credit unions. Below, Select rounded up four of the best personal loans offered by credit unions.

When compiling our list of the best personal loans, Select evaluated dozens of lenders. We looked at key factors like interest rates, fees, loan amounts and term lengths offered, plus other features including how your funds are distributed, autopay discounts, customer service and how fast you can get your funds. (Read more about our methodology below.)

Select’s picks for the best personal loans from credit unions

Compare offers to find the best loan

This tool is provided and powered by Even Financial, a search and comparison engine that matches you with third-party lenders. Any information you provide is given directly to Even Financial and it may use this information in accordance with its own privacy policies and terms of service. By submitting your information, you agree to receive emails from Even. Select does not control and is not responsible for third party policies or practices, nor does Select have access to any data you provide. Select may receive an affiliate commission from partner offers in the Even Financial tool. The commission does not influence the selection in order of offers. 

Best for small loan amounts

Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, auto repairs, vacations and more

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • Loans as low as $250 and as high as $50,000
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • May apply with a co-borrower
  • Available in all 50 states

Cons

  • Membership is not available to everyone (you must be an active military member, veteran, employee or retiree at the Department of Defense, or a family member of someone who fits into these categories)
  • Minimum APR is on the higher end
  • Late fee of $29
  • If applying for a debt consolidation loan or home improvement loan, you can only apply over the phone or in-person

Who’s this for? Navy Federal Credit Union offers some of the lowest personal loan amounts on this list — loan amounts start at $250. This makes Navy Federal Credit Union attractive to those who may just need a couple hundred dollars and don’t want to take on a loan that would be too large.

This lender also offers a shorter minimum repayment term compared to other lenders on this list (and compared to most personal loan lenders in general) — you can choose to repay your loan in as little as six months. Shorter repayment terms mean that you save money on interest charges, though your monthly payment amount may be higher compared to if you had picked longer repayment terms.

In order to be eligible to apply for a Navy Federal Credit Union personal loan, you must be an active military member or a veteran, or an employee or retiree of the Department of Defense. You’re also eligible if you’re a family member of someone who is an active military member, veteran, or employee or retiree of the Department of Defense.

This lender doesn’t charge origination fees or prepayment penalties, but it does charge a $29 late fee.

Best for flexible terms

Alliant Credit Union

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, or emergencies

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • Loans as low as $1,000 and as high as $50,000
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Quick approval
  • Funds usually get deposited same-day
  • Option to have funds mailed as a check if you prefer

Cons

  • Loans are only available to Alliant members; see member eligibility for more info

Who’s this for? Similar to some of the other lenders on this list, Alliant offers personal loan amounts for as much as $50,000 (the minimum amount is $1,000, though, so it may not be appealing to those who need to borrow less than this). But this lender also has a considerable amount of flexibility when it comes to its personal loan products. For one, the lender can usually deposit the funds into your bank account on the same day (providing that you’ve submitted all the necessary documents and the information is accurate and nothing else is needed). However, if you’d rather receive your funds in the form of a check, Alliant offers to mail you one.

The APR for Alliant personal loans are tiered and depend on the timeline you choose for repaying the loan. According to the Alliant website, you may qualify for a rate close to the lowest APR (6.24%) if you choose a loan term of 12 months. Then the APR starts at 7.24% for a 24-month loan term, 9.24% for a 48-month loan term and 10.24% for a 60-month term. Of course, aside from the term you choose, your interest rate will also depend on your credit score. The higher your credit score, the more likely you’ll be to get approved for interest rates on the lower end of the lender’s ranges.

This lender also doesn’t charge origination fees or a prepayment penalty.

Best for longer repayment terms

First Tech Federal Credit Union

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, medical bills or emergencies

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • Loans as low as $500 and as high as $50,000
  • No origination fees, application fees or prepayment penalties
  • Quick application
  • Ability to defer payments for up to the first 45 days
  • Offers a mobile app

Cons

  • Must be a First Tech member to apply; you may also be eligible if someone in your family is already a member, you or a family member work for one of their partners, you live in Lane County, Oregon or you belong to the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association

Who’s this for? First Tech offers some of the longest repayment terms on this list — the credit union gives borrowers up to seven years to repay their personal loan. Borrowers can apply for as little as $500 or as much as $50,000, giving them plenty of flexibility for smaller and larger amounts.

You’ll need to be a First Tech member before you can apply and receive your funds. However, the lender offers some other provisions you can meet for eligibility: You can still apply if someone in your family or household is a First Tech Credit Union member; you or a family member work for a company on First Tech’s partners list (or you work for the state of Oregon); you work or live in Lane County, Oregon; or you’re a member at the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association (which anyone can join and only costs $8).

Unlike many other lenders, First Tech gives borrowers the option to defer their first payment for up to 45 days after their funding date, which can be helpful for those who need funding immediately but may need a bit more time before they begin making payments. Just keep in mind, though, that choosing a deferral option may affect the total interest you pay since deferring payment doesn’t defer interest charges).

Best for applying with a co-applicant

PenFed Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, medical expenses, auto financing and more

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • Credit union membership available to anyone
  • Loans as low as $600
  • Can pick up a physical at a branch
  • May apply with a co-borrower

Cons

  • Funds come as a physical check
  • Must be a member to get funds (no membership needed to apply)
  • Must pay for expedited shipping to get your funds next day
  • Maximum loan amount of $50,000
  • Late fee of $29

Who’s this for? PenFed provides personal loan options for debt consolidation, home improvement, medical expenses, auto financing and more. Potential borrowers need to apply with good or excellent credit. But for those who have less than ideal credit, this lender allows the option to apply with a co-applicant. Applying with a co-applicant who has a higher credit score than you can help you get approved for better interest rates that you otherwise wouldn’t have qualified for.

Borrowers can apply for as little as $600. Most lenders have a $1,000 minimum for personal loans, but PenFed’s low minimum may make it attractive to those who don’t need to borrow such a large amount of money.

PenFed loan terms range from one to five years. While you don’t need to be a member to apply, you will need to sign up for a PenFed membership and keep $5 in a qualifying savings account to receive your funds.

While PenFed loans are a good option for smaller amounts, one drawback is that funds come in the form of a paper check. If there is a PenFed location near you, you can pick up your check directly from the bank. However, if you don’t live close to a branch, you have to pay for expedited shipping to get your check the next day.

Much like with any other personal loan lender, the best way to qualify for the lowest interest rate on a PenFed loan is to apply with a higher credit score.

Our methodology

To determine which personal loans are the best, Select analyzed dozens of U.S. personal loans offered by both online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions, that come with no origination or signup fees, fixed-rate APRs and flexible loan amounts and terms to suit an array of financing needs.

When narrowing down and ranking the best personal loans, we focused on the following features:

  • No origination or signup fee: None of the lenders on our best-of list charge borrowers an upfront fee for processing your loan.
  • Fixed-rate APR: Variable rates can go up and down over the lifetime of your loan. With a fixed rate APR, you lock in an interest rate for the duration of the loan’s term, which means your monthly payment won’t vary, making your budget easier to plan.
  • Flexible minimum and maximum loan amounts/terms: Each lender provides a variety of financing options that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your loan.
  • No early payoff penalties: The lenders on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off loans early.
  • Streamlined application process: We considered whether lenders offered same-day approval decisions and a fast online application process. 
  • Customer support: Every loan on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the personal loan process and your finances.
  • Fund disbursement: The loans on our list deliver funds promptly through either electronic wire transfer to your checking account or in the form of a paper check. Some lenders (which we noted) offer the ability to pay your creditors directly.
  • Autopay discounts: We noted the lenders that reward you for enrolling in autopay by lowering your APR by 0.25% to 0.5%.
  • Creditor payment limits and loan sizes: The above lenders provide loans in an array of sizes, from $500 to $100,000. Each lender advertises its respective payment limits and loan sizes, and completing a preapproval process can give you an idea of what your interest rate and monthly payment would be for such an amount.

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall financing needs, debt consolidation and refinancing, small loans and next-day funding.

Note that the rates and fee structures advertised for personal loans are subject to fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. However, once you accept your loan agreement, a fixed-rate APR will guarantee interest rate and monthly payment will remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan. Your APR, monthly payment and loan amount depend on your credit history and creditworthiness. To take out a loan, lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more. 

Catch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.