I joined PenFed back in 2009 and loved them. I have had two personal loans and a Promise Visa since becoming a member. At first I was very impressed with PenFed; they offered great rates (8.99% sometimes 7.99% personal loans, 10.49% PLOC, 1.99% 60 month auto loans etc); the ease of being pre-approved for new credit with no HP and even making payments/depositing funds from an outside bank has been fairly easy for me.
However, in the past year or so, PenFed has, I believe, switched to a more risk-based lending approach. In their attempt to keep BECU from displacing them as the third largest credit union in the US, PenFed has been pushing hard for new members, and understandably wanting more members to have credit products with them. To do this, though, they have had to lower their credit standards by allowing more people to be approved. Historically, PenFed was downright conservative and claimed a lot of people were pyramiding their debt. Now it seems, more people are being approved. To make up for reduced credit quality, they have raised rates on everybody for the realized or possible risk of default by those with riskier credit profiles that had been approved. I am not sure if that is what has really happened, but that is what it appears to be from my point of view having been a member for 8 years. And before anybody gives me their two cents on this, yes, I am aware that Prime rate has gone up 1% and this is part of the reason for the increased rates (but my other two big CU's SSFCU and NFCU have maintained low rates...so....).
I also saw one of those new PenFed commercials at the television at work a few weeks ago...very disappointing by how humdrum and low brow it came across as. It reminded me more of a local, 20,000 member credit union commercial than a large, "premium" credit union.
I don't know if I am just being hard on them since joining NFCU a year ago, but PenFed has very little anymore that I am interested in. For me, NFCU beats them in every way possible-there is even a NFCU branch 20 minutes away whereas PenFed has very few branches and none in Colorado.
So, I have no service complaints with them as OP had; but I think the quality of PenFed has gone down a bit since first joining 8 years ago.
I would say that anyone bothered by a 10-15 wait on the phone should definitely NOT app for a home equity loan. I app'ed on May 8, finally approved 8/17, 3 months & 9 days later. I got a lot of excuses, but the obvious situation is that they are way understaffed in the home equity loan division. Patience is not my strong suit, but I put up with it as my property is difficult to finance, a 10 acre rural property with manufactured home, so at least they came through for me, a $25k home equity line of credit currently 4%, a variable rate of Prime +0% (for 80% LTV or less), good for 15 years.
And I called almost weekly pushing it through, so some tips on calling them:
- Never call on a Monday morning, hopelessly backed up
- The shortest wait time is 2-5pm Pacific time. Penfed has offices in Alexandria VA, Omaha & Oregon (I think Eugene). Call in the morning & you get Alexandria, the longest wait times. Call in the afternoon Pacific time or early evening Eastern time and you get Oregon, the shortest wait time.
PENFED has been wonderfull for me. I haven't had to call them but I've had business's that have had an hour or more wait times so 10-15 minutes is chump change. I would never call early before work because you don't have the time to wait. And it can get frustrating. They've give me a high CL on my CC with them, as well as great rates for the auto loan.. They even lowered my auto loan rate soon after getting my truck because their rates changed (3 months after I was approved for loan). I thought that was nice of them.
It seems that lately, my experience with PenFed has slowly grown worse. I very rarely contact customer service but the fact that you can't do some things online forces you to (e.g., report lost/stolen, replacement card). When you call, the wait usually exceeds 10-15 minutes. I was on the phone replacing a comprised card for like 20-30 minutes, after I got connected with a representative. I also recently had a cashback redemption that didn't go through.
I'm not looking to move away from them; they still have good products. I'm just wondering if anyone has had a similar experience lately.
Also, I have no idea what subforum to put this in.
I have experienced some moderately long wait times when you call the main customer support but overall my experience with them has been very positive. Yes their website needs some enhancements and improvements and I think they realize that. I just applied for an auto loan for a vehicle that I have ordered and while I was instantly approved for a sizable amount, other then the screenshot that I took saying 'Congratulations you're approved!', there was absolutely nothing on the website that indicated I had even applied for one. You would think under the 'Applications ' tab the application and status would show but nothing. Nor did I receive any email communication about the loan or any information on what steps that I needed to take once my vehicle came in. So, I waited two days until the follow up survey came via email and I stated that while I love the credit union, I was a bit dismayed about the lack of info on their website or anywhere about my auto loan application. Next day I get a phone call from a auto loan representative out if their Tennessee office and she was fantastic and provided me with all the info on how to complete the vehicle arrives. Best of all, she gave me her direct line and stated to call her personality when I'm ready to finish the loan and that she would handle it all. She also stated that she was aware of the website flaws and said that it was something that they were working on. We'll see if anything changes down the road.
''Despite all of the above, I can't give enough praise for how generous that they have been to me with their credit products. I think that part of their problem is that they have experienced more growth in number of members due to their popularity here and other credit forums.
Its sad that we have to use the "survey" to get results as customers I cant even log in on my computer to them). I have to "pretend" to apply for something to get the log in, then cancel the app once I'm "in"....terrible!