If you’re interested in a personal loan, it’s hard to go wrong with a credit union. Many offer similar rates as banks without forcing you to meet strict eligibility criteria. Municipal Credit Union and PenFed have competitive rates, but neither is clear on what it takes to qualify.

Still, they are solid options when you’re looking to borrow. As long as you qualify for membership, you may be able to borrow up to $50,000 with either lender.

Municipal Credit Union vs. PenFed at a glance

Both Municipal Credit Union and PenFed have good terms and competitive rates.

Municipal Credit Union PenFed
Bankrate Score 4.4 4.7
Better for Low rates Joint applications
Loan amounts $1,000-$50,000 Up to $50,000
APRs 8.20%-15.70% (with autopay) 7.99%-17.99%
Loan term lengths 12-72 months Up to 60 months
Fees Late payment fees Late payment and nonsufficient funds fees
Minimum credit score Not specified Not specified
Time to funding Not specified As soon as next business day

Municipal Credit Union personal loans

Municipal Credit Union is based in New York. Its membership is open to those who live in New York City, are New York state or federal employees or are related to an existing member.

The personal loans on offer by Municipal Credit Union are standard for the current market. You may be able to borrow up to $50,000, and only need to worry about late fees. However, the lack of information about its eligibility criteria and how long it takes to fund are big negatives. Most lenders, including other credit unions, are upfront about its requirements and the time it takes to process your application.


  • Autopay discount.
  • Long loan terms.
  • Competitive APR.


  • No disclosed funding timeline.
  • Unclear eligibility criteria.
  • Membership required.

PenFed personal loans

PenFed has over 2.5 million members nationwide and serves the entire U.S. as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and Okinawa. Like any credit union, you will need to be a member. Fortunately, membership is open to nearly anyone in the U.S.

Its loans are also on par for the market. While you may be responsible for a nonsufficient funds (NSF) fee in addition to a late fee, there are no origination fees or other costs. And unlike many other lenders, PenFed is open to joint applications. It isn’t specific about what you will need to qualify, but you can expect to need a solid income and good to excellent credit.


  • Joint applications.
  • Quick funding timeline.
  • Competitive APR.


  • Unclear eligibility criteria.
  • Late and NSF fees.
  • Membership required.

How to choose between Municipal Credit Union and PenFed

Municipal Credit Union and PenFed have similar products — their rates, loan amounts and terms are very similar. But PenFed will be a better choice for non-NYC residents. Municipal Credit Union does have a slightly more competitive range of APRs if you live within its serviced region. If you don’t, PenFed membership is open to anyone across the U.S.

Municipal Credit Union has lower rates

For the lowest rates on your personal loan, opt for Municipal Credit Union over PenFed. It does have a slightly higher starting APR, but the maximum rate you will receive is significantly lower than what PenFed offers. In addition, Municipal Credit Union offers a rate discount when you sign up for automatic payments.

It also has slightly longer terms — 72 months versus 60 months — and one fewer fee. However, Municipal Credit Union isn’t explicit about the requirements you will need to meet to qualify. It is also vague about how long it could take to fund your loan. Many modern lenders, including PenFed, are able to process applications and fund personal loans in a matter of days. Be sure to ask about the timeline for funding when you apply.

PenFed offers joint applications

Like Municipal Credit Union, PenFed offers competitive rates and loan amounts. And while its starting rate is slightly lower, it has a higher maximum APR. Borrowers who just barely meet its criteria are unlikely to qualify for that lower rate, so it is important to calculate your costs based on a higher average APR.

Despite this, PenFed stands out for three reasons: its availability, its funding timeline and its option for joint applications. PenFed does not limit membership to a specific region unlike many other credit unions. It is able to fund your loan at a similar speed to online lenders, and best of all, you are able to submit a joint application to share responsibility for your loan.

Compare lenders before applying

Credit unions are a good choice when it comes to borrowing a personal loan. You will need to open an account to become a member and qualify, but both Municipal Credit Union and PenFed keep this process simple.

If you would rather borrow from a bank or online lender that doesn’t require membership, compare personal loans from other sources to see where you can find the best rates.