Best Credit Union Personal Loans in 2024

Checking rates won't affect your credit score

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How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.
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Best credit unions for personal loans

Written by Amanda Push | Edited by Jessica Sain-Baird and Xiomara Martinez-White | Reviewed February 28, 2024

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.
LenderAPR rangeLoan termsLoan amountsMinimum credit scoreBest for...
Navy Federal Credit Union Logo
8.99% - 18.00%Up to 180 monthsStarting at $250Not specifiedBorrowers with military tiesSee Personalized Results
Penfed Logo
7.99% - 17.99%12 to 60 months$600 to $50,000700Good credit borrowersSee Personalized Results
First Tech Logo
Starting at 8.94%24 to 84 months$500 to $50,000Not specifiedFair or bad credit borrowersSee Personalized Results
Alliant Logo
Starting at 11.49%12 to 60 months$1,000 to $100,000Not specifiedSame-day fundingSee Personalized Results

Read more about how we chose our picks for best credit union personal loans.

See Personalized Rates

If you need to borrow money, credit union personal loans can be an excellent choice because of their affordability and individualized customer service. Credit unions often restrict membership by location, employer or other factors, making them more personalized to your needs. Credit unions also cap personal loan annual percentage rates (APRs) at 18%, much lower than many lenders and banks.

Navy Federal Credit Union

  • APR range: 8.99% – 18.00%
  • Terms: Up to 60 months
  • Borrowing limits: Starting at $250
  • Origination fee: None
  • Credit score requirement: Not specified
ProsCons

  Repayment terms up to 180 months

  Loan amounts as small as $250

  Option to use co-applicant

  Doesn't charge origination fees

  Only available to those with military affiliations

  Must become member first to apply for loan

  APR, terms and amounts depend on loan use

See Your Personalized Results

PenFed Credit Union: Best for good credit borrowers

  • APR range: 7.99% – 17.99%
  • Terms: 12 to 60 months
  • Borrowing limits: $600 to $50,000
  • Origination fee: None
  • Credit score requirement: 700
ProsCons

  Option to apply with co-borrower

  Offers small loans under $1,000

  Flexible loan amounts and repayment terms

  Borrowers with fair or bad credit won’t qualify

  Must be member to receive loan

  Can take up to two business days to receive loan funds

See Your Personalized Results

First Technology Federal Credit Union: Best for fair or bad credit borrowers

  • APR: Starting at 8.94%
  • Terms: 24 to 84 months
  • Borrowing limits: $500 to $50,000
  • Origination fee: None
  • Credit score requirement: Not specified
ProsCons

  Option to add a co-borrower

  Flexible repayment terms and borrowing limits

  Can easily become a First Tech member by joining partner organization online

  May require membership fee to partner organization to join First Tech

  Must be member to receive loan

  Unclear personal loan credit requirements

See Your Personalized Results

Alliant Credit Union: Best for same-day funding

  • APR: Starting at 11.49%
  • Terms: 12 to 60 months
  • Borrowing limits: $1,000 to $100,000
  • Origination fee: None
  • Credit score requirement: Not specified
ProsCons

  Wide range of loan amounts

  Offers debt protection plan in case of death, disability or unemployment

  Same-day funding

  No physical branches

  Unclear credit requirements for personal loans

  No option for cosigner or co-borrower

See Your Personalized Results

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How to get a loan from a credit union

The application process for getting a loan from a credit union varies by institution. There is, however, a general procedure credit unions generally follow.

  1. Determine your loan needs. Since lenders may limit how you can use the funds, it’s important to decide on your personal loan purpose. Some of the most common reasons for getting a personal loan include debt consolidation, refinancing credit cards and home improvement projects.
  2. Compare lenders. Don’t accept the first loan offer you get. Comparing various credit union personal loans can help you land lower APRs, better terms and even unique perks such as no-fee loans and autopay discounts.
  3. Become a credit union member. If you find a credit union that you can qualify with, apply to become a member. This may involve personal information like your address, Social Security number and credit profile. Depending on the credit union, you could also have to pay a membership fee or put money into an account.
  4. Check if you prequalify for a loan. Some credit unions allow you to see what kinds of rates, terms and amounts you may qualify for without any impact to your credit score. When you prequalify for a loan, you can shop around and compare various offers from other lenders.
  5. Verify your information. During the application process, the credit union likely asked you about where you live, your income and your employment status. At this stage, the credit union will want to verify the information you provided. You may need to provide documentation like bank statements, W-2s, pay stubs and a government-issued identification.
  6. Close on your loan. Once your credit union lender approves you for a loan, you’ll need to officially accept it by signing your loan contract. After this, your lender will send you your loan funds. This can take one to five days or longer, though some lenders offer same-day funding.

Credit unions vs. banks and online lenders

You can find personal loans at banks, credit unions and online lenders. Although credit unions generally offer more competitive personal loan rates than a bank or online loan lender, they require membership.

Financial institutionWhat it isProsCons
BankFor-profit institution that typically has physical branches and a variety of products to choose from
  • Name recognition and physical branches
  • Ability to bank and borrow with a single company
  • Tend to have the latest tech offerings, like mobile apps
  • May have higher rates compared to other options
  • Harsher requirements to borrow
  • May need to be a bank customer to qualify for personal loan
Credit unionMember-owned not-for-profit financial institution. Typically has fewer physical branches than banks and a variety of financial products
  • APR is capped at 18% — much lower some banks and online lenders
  • More forgiving loan requirements
  • Fewer fees
  • Must be a member to apply
  • May not have the latest tech offerings, like mobile apps
Online lenderFor-profit, online-only lenders with no physical branches and few financial products
  • Highly competitive loan rates and terms
  • Wide variety of lenders to choose from
  • No membership requirements
  • APR can be as high as 36%
  • No option to meet your lender face to face
  • May come with more fees than banks or credit unions

Pros and cons of credit union loans

Credit unions offer a wide variety of benefits to the members they serve, but they are not without their drawbacks.

ProsCons
  Credit union loans are capped at 18% APR, so you may find better offers with credit unions compared with other lenders  May be difficult to obtain a personal loan from a credit union if you don’t meet the membership requirements
  Aside from taking out a personal loan from a credit union, you can also bank with them  Membership process may require small deposit
  Since credit unions tend to be focused on certain communities or demographics, you may have better customer service  As opposed to a bank or online lender, credit unions sometimes have limited access to tech and mobile apps

Alternatives to personal loans

Personal loans offer a plethora of advantages and benefits for consumers, but if you’re looking to finance an expense, it’s not the only option worth considering.

  Credit cards

Credit cards give borrowers a revolving line of credit they can use as needed as opposed to a personal loan’s lump sum of cash. In particular, credit cards may also be a good option for those looking to earn rewards as they spend, like cash back or travel points.

Unlike personal loans, credit cards come with variable interest rates, so your minimum monthly payment may change each month. Since credit cards are typically unsecured, creditors will heavily consider your credit history before approving you.

  Buy now, pay later

Similar to personal loans, buy now, pay later (BNPL) works like an installment loan. While there are multiple types of BNPL plans, one of the most common types is the zero-interest “Pay in 4” plans. This is when your purchase is split into four equal payments that are repaid over a six-week period.

Not all BNPL sites report payments to credit bureaus, so if you’re looking to improve your credit profile, this may not be the best financing option to pursue.

  Personal line of credit

A personal line of credit works is a revolving form of credit. Unlike personal loans, this form of credit comes with variable interest rates, as well as draw and repayment periods. This means you only have a predetermined period of time to withdraw money and repay it.

Personal lines of credit aren’t commonly offered by lenders, but you may qualify for one if you have an established relationship with a bank or credit union.

  Payday alternative loan

A payday alternative loan (PAL) is a small loan — typically ranging from $200 to $1,000 — that is exclusively offered by credit unions as an alternative to predatory payday loans. While payday loans can come with nearly 400% APR, credit unions cap PALs at 28% APR.

PALs aren’t commonly offered by credit unions so you may have to shop around. Like with personal loans, you may have to become a member of the credit union before you can access loan funds.

How we chose the best credit union personal loans

We reviewed 10 of the most well-known credit unions that offer personal loans to determine the overall best four lenders. To make our list, lenders must offer competitive APRs. From there, we prioritize lenders based on the following factors:

  • Accessibility: Lenders are ranked higher if their loans are easier to obtain and require fewer conditions. This may include lower credit requirements, wider geographic availability, faster funding and easier applications.
  • Fees: We prioritized lenders with no or low membership fees and no origination or annual fees.
  • Rates and terms: We ranked lenders higher if they had more competitive fixed rates and greater options for repayment terms, loan amounts and APR discounts.
  • Repayment experience: We considered each lender’s reputation and business practices. We also favored lenders that report to the major credit bureaus, offer reliable customer service and provide any unique perks to customers.

Frequently asked questions

Getting approved for a personal loan at a credit union can be challenging since you’ll need to meet criteria to both become a member of the financial institution and get a loan. If you don’t qualify with a credit union, consider applying for a personal loan with a bank or online lender.

Generally, you’ll want a credit score of at least 640 to qualify for a loan, but the credit score requirement will vary by lender. You can check your credit score for free through LendingTree’s platform.

Credit union loans work like personal loans from a bank or online lender. The biggest difference is that you likely will have to become a member of the credit union first. You can check if you prequalify for a loan, then if you prefer its rates and fees, you can proceed with the loan process.