Police and Fire Federal Credit Union (PFFCU) is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has been serving its members since 1938. Active or retired Philadelphia police officers and firefighters (and their family members), as well as members from a number of organizations in the greater Philadelphia and South Jersey areas, are eligible to join. All it takes is a quick application with your Social Security number, valid ID, proof of address, and a current PFFCU checking account.

PFFCU’s mission is centered around service, value, and convenience.Their service philosophy is “Try to bend the rule to fit the member; don’t bend the member to fit the rule.” They offer a number of accounts and services and have 15 locations in and around Philadelphia. Currently, they have 220,000 members and 600 employees.

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Lender snapshot

If you are a current member, or eligible for membership, PFFCU may be a great choice if you are considering borrowing against your home’s equity.

  • Home equity products include loans, non-owner occupied loans, and a home equity line of credit (HELOC)
  • Minimum credit score to qualify is 620
  • Close on your home equity loan within 35 days
  • Borrow up to $600,000 based on LTV of 80% or borrow up to $100,000 based on LTV of 100%
  • No application fees or closing costs

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Excellent customer service: According to a recent 2018 member survey, 94% of survey participants gave branch member service and call center service the highest rankings, and 91% of participants ranked their real estate lending experience as exceptional.
  • No fees: PFFCU’s home equity loans and HELOC’s have no application fees and no closing costs; borrowers can opt to pay $150 for an appraisal upgrade.
  • Competitive rates: As of July 24, 2019, Bankrate listed an average HELOC rate of 7.39%; PFFCU’s HELOC rate started at 4.75 percent; likewise the average home equity loan rate was 6.92 percent, according to Bankrate, while PFFCU advertised rates ranging from as low as 3.99 percent (5-year term) to as high as 5.49 percent (20-year term).

Cons

  • Limited membership: In order to be a PFFCU member, you must be a Philadelphia police officer, firefighter (or family member) or a member of one of their affiliated organizations.
  • 5-year HELOC draw period: PFFCU’s HELOC has a 5-year draw period (with a 15-year amortization, or repayment, period). Many banks and credit unions offer a 10-year draw period.

Mortgage Products

PFFCU offers several real estate loans including various mortgage products, a grant program for first-time homebuyers, and mortgage refinance. They offer two home equity products: a home equity loan and a HELOC; both products have no application fees and no closing costs.

Home Equity Loan

PFFCU’s home equity loan has two options for borrowers looking for a loan for their primary residence or their owner-occupied vacation property. The first is a loan to finance up to 80 percent of the loan-to-value (LTV) of your primary home. Loan terms range from five to 20 years and have a fixed rate. The maximum you can borrow is $600,000.

The other option allows you to finance up to 100 percent of the LTV of your primary home. Loan terms are only five to 15 years (still with a fixed rate) and the maximum amount you can borrow is $100,000.

Single-family owner-occupied vacation properties have a maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 80 percent.

If you are looking to borrow from your single-family investment property, PFFCU offers a non-owner occupied home equity loan. You can finance up to 70 percent of the LTV for five to 15 years and borrow a maximum of $200,000.

If you sign up for autopay, all home equity loans receive a discount of 0.25 percent. PFFCU tries to close on home equity loans within 35 days of application.

HELOC

PFFCU’s home equity line of credit follows a five-year draw period and 15-year amortization period). You can borrow up to $600,000 to finance up to 80 percent of the LTV of your primary home. And like their home equity loans, there are no application fees or closing costs.

Right now, PFFCU is offering a 2.99 percent introductory APR on HELOCs. The variable rate will then rise based on the Federal Reserve’s bank prime loan rate minus 0.75 percent. This means that your variable loan rate will always be lower than the prime rate. At the time of publication, the prime loan rate was 5.50 percent with PFFCU offering 4.75 percent APR.

Lender fees

There are no application fees or closing costs on PFFCU’s home equity loan or HELOCs. For either a home equity loan on your primary residence or a HELOC, you can choose to pay for an appraisal upgrade for $150. For a home equity loan on your non-owner occupied or investment property, you will be charged $265 for the cost of an appraisal.

If you sign up for autopay, all home equity loans and HELOC’s receive a discount of 0.25 percent.

Borrowing requirements

In order to qualify for any of PFFCU’s home equity products, you must be a member. Membership is limited to current and retired Philadelphia police officers and firefighters (and their family members), as well as employees from several organizations in and around Philadelphia and South Jersey.

The minimum credit score is in the 600 range and usually PFFCU does not approve loans for borrowers with a score below 620.

Your APR will depend on your credit score and LTV, as well as the loan term and amount.

For home equity loan LTV ratios over 80 percent, PFFCU requires automatic payments and will not discount APRs.

How to apply

To apply for one of PFFCU’s home equity products, simply fill out the online application on their website; it only takes about 10 minutes to complete. You’ll need to select whether you are applying for a HELOC, Home Equity Loan 80% LTV, Home Equity Loan 100% LTV, or Investment Property Loan. Make sure you have calculated the amount you are requesting to borrow, as well as information about your estimated property value and current mortgage balance.

If members prefer to speak to a person, they can call PFFCU or visit a branch. If an application is completed during regular business hours, potential borrowers should hear about the loan decision the following business day. According to their website, PFFCU has a goal to close on your home equity loan within 35 days of application.

View home equity rates

Tap into the value you have in your home to get the funds you need.

Get started

PFFCU prides itself on customer service and offers a number of personal banking and home equity products. If you qualify for membership and live in or around Philadelphia near one of the many branches, it may be worth joining.

For more information, visit the PFFCU website or call either 215-931-0300 or 800-228-8801 during their business hours (Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. or Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. EST). They also have an email form on their website.