Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) Review

(July 2024)


In This Article

Our Verdict


PenFed Credit Union is a strong choice if you’re seeking a high-yield savings account and prioritizing low fees. If you primarily bank online and don’t need the convenience of numerous branches, PenFed is definitely worth considering. However, if you need a wider range of account options or prefer a traditional bank with a large branch network, you can consider other options.


  • Offers competitive rates on loans, mortgages, and credit cards.
  • Provides a wide range of financial products and services.
  • Operates as a not-for-profit structure focused on member benefits.
  • Features robust online and mobile banking options.
  • Grants access to educational resources and financial planning tools.


  • Offers limited physical branch locations compared to larger banks.
  • Features membership eligibility requirements potentially exclude certain individuals or groups.
  • Shows limited availability of specialized financial products or services compared to larger financial institutions.

Who PenFed Is Best For

Embrace PenFed if you’re someone who:

  • Is a military personnel
  • Is a government employee
  • Prefers online and mobile banking
  • Seeks competitive rates and personalized financial solutions.

Who PenFed Isn’t Right For

Explore PenFed alternatives if you’re someone who:

  • Is an heavy user of cash
  • Seeks advanced features
  • Lacks interested in joining PenFed
  • Requires integration with multiple financial institutions
  • Has complex financial situations

What PenFed Offers

PenFed Credit Union offers a variety of financial products and services, including:
  • Credit cards: It has a range of credit cards with different rewards programs and APRs, including cards with travel rewards, cash back rewards, and no annual fees. For example, its Power Cash Rewards Visa® Card offers cash back and has a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 15 months
  • Savings accounts: PenFed offers a variety of savings accounts to help you save for your goals.
  • Auto loans: PenFed offers competitive rates on auto loans, and they can help you finance a new or used car.
  • Mortgages: PenFed offers a variety of mortgage products to help you buy a home.
  • Member discounts: PenFed members can get discounts on a variety of products and services, such as car buying, home security, and more.

PenFed Details

PenFed, short for Pentagon Federal Credit Union, is a financial institution that offers a wide range of banking services to its members. When you become a member of PenFed, you’re joining a community-focused credit union that prioritizes your financial well-being.

Unlike traditional banks, PenFed is a not-for-profit organization, meaning its primary goal is to serve you, the member, rather than generating profits for shareholders.  This focus often translates into better rates and lower fees on products like loans, mortgages, and credit cards. As a member of PenFed, you gain access to various financial products tailored to your needs.

Whether you’re looking to buy a home, finance a car, or save for the future, PenFed has options designed to help you achieve your goals. Its mortgage offerings include fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages, while its auto loans come with competitive rates and flexible terms. Additionally, PenFed’s savings and investment products provide opportunities for you to grow your wealth over time, with options like high-yield savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and investment services.

Beyond banking products, PenFed also provides valuable resources and support to help you manage your finances effectively. You can take advantage of educational materials, financial planning tools, and personalized guidance from PenFed’s team of experts. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just starting to build your credit, PenFed offers the resources and assistance you need to make informed financial decisions and achieve your long-term objectives. With a commitment to member satisfaction and community impact, PenFed strives to be more than just a financial institution – it aims to be your trusted partner in achieving financial success.

Where PenFed Stands Out


You’re making a giant stride towards choosing the right financial partner. Explore below where PenFed stands out as a financial institution:

Competitive rates

PenFed often offers lower interest rates on loans and higher yields on savings compared to traditional banks. This means when you borrow money or save with PenFed, you can potentially save more and earn more interest over time.

Member-focused approach

As a not-for-profit credit union, PenFed prioritizes your needs over profits, which translates into better customer service, lower fees, and more personalized financial solutions tailored to your specific goals and circumstances.

Wide range of products

Whether you’re in the market for a mortgage, auto loan, credit card, or savings account, PenFed has you covered with a comprehensive suite of financial products designed to meet your diverse needs.

Community impact

By banking with PenFed, you’re supporting a financial institution that gives back to the community. PenFed invests in charitable initiatives, financial literacy programs, and other community-focused efforts to make a positive difference where you live.

Educational resources

PenFed provides valuable educational resources and tools to help you make informed financial decisions. From budgeting guides to retirement planning calculators, you have access to the information you need to manage your money effectively.

Flexibility and convenience

With online and mobile banking options, as well as a network of branches and ATMs, PenFed offers the flexibility and convenience you need to access your accounts and manage your finances anytime, anywhere.

Where PenFed Falls Short

There are factors to watch out for before you choose PenFed. Consider them below:

Limited branch availability

You’re going to find it inconvenient if you prefer in-person banking, as PenFed has fewer physical branches compared to traditional banks.

Depending on your location, accessing a branch for certain transactions or assistance might be challenging. However, PenFed compensates for this with robust online and mobile banking services, ensuring you can manage your finances conveniently from anywhere.

Membership eligibility criteria

PenFed’s membership eligibility requirements can pose a hurdle for you. While it primarily serves military personnel, government employees, and their families, as well as certain affinity groups, if you don’t fall within these categories, you’re not likely to qualify for membership. However, if you do meet the criteria, becoming a member can offer you access to competitive rates and tailored financial solutions.

Potential fees and limitations

Like any financial institution, PenFed has fees and restrictions associated with its products and services. It’s essential to carefully review the fee schedule and terms and conditions to understand any costs or limitations that may apply to you.

How to Qualify for PenFed


PenFed is not for everyone. To know if you’re eligible, check whether you tick all the boxes below:

  • Serve in the United States military, be honorably discharged, or retired: If you are currently serving in the military, have been honorably discharged, or are retired from the military, you qualify for PenFed membership.
  • Work for the U.S. government, either currently or previously: Current or former employees of the U.S. government are eligible for PenFed membership.
  • Have a family member who is a current PenFed member: Immediate family members, including spouses, parents, siblings, children, and household members of current PenFed members, can also join.
  • Join certain eligible organizations or associations affiliated with PenFed: Membership in specific organizations or associations that have partnerships with PenFed can qualify you for membership. For example, American Automobile Association (AAA), National Military Family Association, National Sheriffs’ Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association, or Navy Federal Credit Union (Through an agreement allowing members of each credit union to join the other).
  • Reside in specific geographic areas designated by PenFed: In some cases, residency in certain geographic areas may also make you eligible for PenFed membership.

How to Apply for PenFed

To apply for PenFed membership, follow these steps:

  • Check eligibility: Ensure you meet one of PenFed’s eligibility criteria, such as military affiliation, government employment, family relationship, association membership, or residency in designated areas.
  • Gather required information: Collect necessary documents, including identification, proof of eligibility (such as military service records or employment verification), and personal information.
  • Visit PenFed’s website: Go to PenFed’s official website or visit a local branch to start the application process.
  • Complete membership application: Fill out the membership application form online or in person, providing accurate information about yourself and your eligibility.
  • Submit documentation: Upload or submit any required documents to verify your eligibility along with your application.
  • Review terms and agreements: Read and understand the terms and agreements associated with PenFed membership, including any fees, rates, and policies.
  • Wait for approval: After submitting your application, wait for PenFed to review and approve your membership. This process typically takes a few business days.
  • Receive membership confirmation: Once your application is successful, expect to receive confirmation of your PenFed membership along with instructions on accessing your accounts and services.

Alternatives to PenFed

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU)

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) is your go-to financial institution if you’re a member of the military, a DoD civilian, or part of a military family. As the largest credit union in the United States, NFCU is dedicated to serving you with a wide range of banking products and services tailored to your needs.

Whether you’re looking for checking and savings accounts, auto loans, mortgages, or investment options, NFCU covers you with competitive rates and personalized assistance. With a commitment to member satisfaction and community support, NFCU prioritizes your financial well-being and offers convenient online and mobile banking solutions, ensuring you have access to your accounts anytime, anywhere.


USAA, short for the United Services Automobile Association, is a financial institution that caters directly to you as a member of the military, veteran, or family member. When you join USAA, you gain access to a wide array of banking, insurance, investment, and retirement products designed to meet your specific needs and support your financial goals.

With USAA, you can enjoy personalized service, competitive rates, and innovative digital tools that make managing your finances convenient and efficient, whether you’re stationed at home or deployed overseas.

As a member-owned organization, USAA prioritizes your satisfaction and financial well-being, providing you with the resources and support you need to achieve financial security for yourself and your loved ones.

Customer Reviews

PenFed receives an excellent rating of 4.3 out of 5-star rating on TrustPilot based on 1,475 customer reviews. Satisfied customers celebrate the credit union for good service delivery. Aggrieved customers think the credit union is not transparent enough, and delays loan process and approval.

Pro Tips

  • Leverage membership benefits: Explore and take advantage of all the perks members have access to, such as competitive interest rates on loans and credit cards, access to financial education resources, and discounts on various products and services.
  • Optimize account management: Make use of PenFed’s online and mobile banking platforms to conveniently manage your accounts, track your transactions, set up alerts, and schedule automatic payments to avoid late fees.
  • Maximize rewards: If you have a PenFed credit card, familiarize yourself with the rewards program and optimize your spending to earn the maximum rewards points or cashback. Look out for special promotions or bonus categories to boost your rewards even further.
  • Utilize member services: Take advantage of PenFed’s member services, such as financial planning assistance, mortgage and auto loan refinancing options, and insurance products tailored to your needs. These services can help you make informed financial decisions and save money in the long run.
  • Stay up-to-date: Keep yourself aware of PenFed’s latest offerings, promotions, and policy changes by regularly checking their website, following them on social media, or subscribing to their newsletter. Being informed will help you make the most out of your PenFed membership and stay ahead financially.


You have the keys to unlock a world of financial benefits with PenFed. From competitive rates on loans and credit cards to a suite of member services designed to help you thrive financially, PenFed has your back.

Manage your accounts effortlessly through our user-friendly online and mobile banking platforms, and make the most out of our rewards programs to earn cashback or points on your purchases. Plus, take advantage of PenFed financial planning assistance, mortgage and auto loan refinancing options, and insurance products tailored to your needs.

Related Articles

Become a

S'witty Kiwi Credit Insider!

Get the latest credit tips and hacks in your inbox!