With membership nearing 12 million, Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) is one of the nation’s largest credit unions. That is a feat, considering its membership is limited to military personnel, Department of Defense members, veterans and related parties.
Navy Federal has five mortgage options to choose from and plenty of educational resources to help potential borrowers with the mortgage process. Additionally, Navy Federal’s representatives are available online, by phone or at one of its 348 branches worldwide.
Read on to learn more about Navy Federal Credit Union and its mortgage lending services.
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Founded in 1933 by Navy Department employees, Navy Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit credit union headquartered in Vienna, Virginia. Its approximately 12 million owner-members receive benefits from surplus funds in the form of dividends, lower interest rates and discounts with partner companies such as Liberty Mutual and the auto rental services Enterprise and Hertz. Membership is open only to military personnel and related parties.
NFCU offers a variety of financial products, including banking services, credit cards, personal loans, loan refinancing, current mortgage refinance, investment property and second home loans, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOC) and mortgages.
Its services are available online, through its mobile app, phone and at its 348 branches worldwide.
Navy Federal Credit Union offers five mortgage options: VA Home Loans, Military Choice, Homebuyers Choice, Conventional Fixed Rate and Adjustable Rate Mortgages.
Potential borrowers must meet eligibility qualifications to join the credit union, which requires a $5 minimum in a Navy Federal savings account, before applying for any mortgage loans. If you qualify, you will get a preapproval letter to show your initial approval amount as you begin your home search.
VA Home Loans – A VA Home Loan is a 10-to 30-year term loan backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This no-down-payment mortgage is a great choice for borrowers with good credit looking for low interest rates. NFCU’s VA mortgage loan includes refinance options.
Military Choice – A military choice loan is a fixed-rate loan with the possibility of no down payment, depending on the borrower’s creditworthiness. The loan term is between 16 and 30 years. This loan type is recommended for people who have exhausted their VA loan benefit. Jumbo loans, or mortgage loans greater than $647,200 (the exact number varies by state), are also available through Military Choice.
Homebuyers Choice – No down payment is required for qualified borrowers for this fixed-rate loan. The loan terms are 10 to 30 years for a regular Homebuyers Choice loan and its jumbo loan version.
Conventional Fixed Rate – A down payment of at least 5% is required for this loan. The interest rate will stay the same throughout the life of the loan, which can be either 15 or 30 years. Jumbo loans are also available under the same loan terms in the Conventional Fixed Rate program.
Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARM) – This loan carries a fixed interest rate for a specified time. When that term ends, the interest rate is adjusted according to the lender. Navy Federal’s loan terms for ARMs are 10 to 30 years, and down payments range from 0 to 10%, depending on borrower creditworthiness.
In addition to membership with Navy Federal Credit Union, two of the mortgage lender’s loan types require specific military or Department of Defense history or relationship to either.
VA Home Loan
Loan officers look at several factors when determining mortgage approval. Here are a few key elements:
These are some of the fees associated with NFCU mortgages. Be sure to read the fine print to ensure you’ve considered all costs.
Through RealtyPlus, mortgage loan buyers may get between $400 and $9,000 cash back, depending on the home’s purchase price. (In some states, the offer may not be available, or the money returned may not be in cash, but in the form of a Mastercard MAX gift card or a commission reduction.)
Enroll online and a RealtyPlus coordinator will connect you with a real estate agent at one of its partner agencies — Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, ERA Real Estate or Corcoran.
While RealtyPlus limits home buyers to purchases through agents at only these companies, the program is free — save for applicable real estate fees or commissions — and includes helpful information, such as home sale market trends and school rankings.
Note that homes for sale by owner may not qualify. Be sure to ask your assigned agent for further details.
Navy Federal is associated with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and has earned various customer service awards. The credit union also publishes a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PcW) annual audit that includes detailed data about its services.
Regarding regulatory actions, there has been one significant legal action against Navy Federal by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, detailed below.
Navy Federal is insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a U.S. Government Agency. This is corroborated by the NCUA site and the NFCU’s listing on the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System and Registry (NMLS).
NFCU uses only licensed Mortgage Loan Originators (also known as loan officers). The credit union is also audited annually by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and those reports are available to the public on the Navy Federal website.
No information is available from third-party organizations or companies.
In October 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that Navy Federal Credit made false threats about legal actions and wage garnishment to members with delinquent accounts via letters and phone calls.
Additionally, some 700,000 members with overdue payments on credit products had access to their electronic accounts — including debit cards — disabled. They were also told that their commanding officers would be contacted if they did not make a payment. Navy Federal Credit Union was ordered to pay $23 million in compensation to certain members who experienced these violations.
The CFPB also ordered Navy Federal to correct its debt collection practices and ensure account access to members regardless of their account status. Navy Federal was also required to pay $5.5 million to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.
According to a Reuters report issued the same year, Navy Federal Credit Union did not deny or admit to the allegations. A representative stated the credit union has cooperated with the CFPB and changed practices accordingly. Navy Federal reportedly settled for $28.5 million in total.
Below you’ll find details about various means of contact, whether via online or mobile app, by phone or at one of its brick-and-mortar branches.
Navy Federal has 348 branches located around the world. The credit union’s services are also accessible online, through mobile apps, the credit union’s Twitter or Facebook accounts and by phone.
You can also reach Navy Federal by mail:
Navy Federal’s website is brimming with resources for potential mortgage loan applicants. Beginning at the mortgage section of Navy Federal’s site, choose “View all” to see a summary of all mortgage options, including starting interest rates and loan terms. By clicking “Learn more” on each loan type, you can find further information, such as eligibility requirements and sample rates.
Potential borrowers can use NFCU’s mortgage guidance calculators to estimate closing costs, down payments and monthly payments. There are also calculators designed to compare terms or determine how much a mortgage might save you on income taxes.
However, to apply for a mortgage with Navy Federal, you must be a member. After checking the eligibility requirements and signing up, you can access the mortgage applications on the credit union’s website anytime.
The credit union’s Homesquad utility connects to your existing NFCU account, streamlining the process from preapproval to uploading documents and tracking your loan status.
For those who prefer the offline approach, you can call a specialist directly at 1-888-842-6328.
While online services are available 24/7, you must be a Navy Federal Credit Union member to access the online application for any of its mortgage options.
Applications and servicing help are available at 1-888-842-6328 from 7 am to midnight Monday through Saturday and 9 am to midnight on Sundays (all Eastern Time).
The listing for Navy Federal Credit Union on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) site is mostly negative, averaging 1.4 out of 5 stars among 154 reviews. Trustpilot reviews are more gracious and also more numerous. Based on 11,765 reviews, Navy Federal received a rating of Excellent, with 4.7 out of 5 stars.
The most common complaint about Navy Federal on the Better Business Bureau page was identity theft. Multiple users stated they had not opened accounts with the credit union, yet their credit reports were hit because of delinquent accounts.
This may have been a result of criminal activity: In August of 2022, a man was charged for aggravated identity theft and bank fraud that specifically targeted Navy Federal. Along with three others, he used the identities of various people to open accounts and receive auto loans. According to the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia, the identity information was sourced from Autotrader and other websites.
Other complaints relate to Navy Federal withholding funds once a check has been deposited into their accounts. The CFPB standard for check withholding is not fixed; the agency says every bank or credit union has its own policy.
Another recurring problem reported by users via BBB is the denial of applications to join Navy Federal Credit Union despite being actual military personnel.
Additionally, on the BBB site as well as the credit union’s Facebook page, there are multiple complaints about customer service quality. Some members have reported waiting more than 30 minutes to connect with customer service representatives by phone. Others have stated they are dissatisfied with Navy Federal’s resolutions of concerns about fees they believed to be inaccurate, payment processing failures and glitches on the website and mobile apps.
Navy Federal Credit Union scored 746 out of 1,000 on J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Mortgage Servicer Satisfaction Study.
Once you’ve become a Navy Federal Credit Union member, the application process is relatively simple, and guidance from representatives is readily available. However, approval will depend on your credit score, debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and, depending on the type of loan, how much you can spend on a down payment.
Navy Federal does not list its minimum credit score requirements outright, but in its 2022 annual report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), around 84% of borrowers had FICO scores greater or equal to 610.
Except for the VA Loan, the down payment you must pay will depend on your creditworthiness. Navy Federal’s VA Loan does not require a downpayment. Other types of mortgages offered by the credit union may also be free of down payments, while some require between 5% and 10% of the home’s total purchase price.
Interest rates are subject to change according to the market, and your actual rate will vary depending on your creditworthiness. However, as of publication time, the starting annual percent rate (APR) is lowest with the VA Loan (starting at 5.088%) and highest with Homebuyers Choice (6.375%). These rates are specific to new mortgages; refinance rates will vary.
Our evaluation process began with scouring the Navy Federal Credit Union site, with particular attention to its mortgage lending pages and the annual PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit.
We also looked to the credit union’s social media pages for more information and feedback from members. Third-party sites played a significant role in our methodology, too.
The criteria we considered include:
Navy Federal Credit Union offers several types of mortgages for military personnel and related parties. The variety is a plus, and the rates for Navy Federal mortgages are generally on par with today’s average rates. Additionally, the educational resources provided — especially the online interactive video on its mortgage landing page — help guide potential borrowers to the type of mortgage that best fits their needs.
Third-party sites have repeatedly awarded Navy Federal with accolades for its customer experience. However, on review pages like the BBB, reports of bad experiences are not uncommon, although many of these complaints are typical of those leveraged against most banks and credit unions.
Navy Federal publishes an annual audit by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC), which adds credibility. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau case against Navy Federal is concerning, but Navy Federal settled for $28.5 million total and stated it had changed its practices.
If you choose to become a member of Navy Federal and apply for a mortgage, be sure to ask for total transparency and make sure, as always, to read the corresponding fine print for any of the credit union’s services.
For more mortgage lender options, including conventional and FHA loans, check out Money’s report on the 8 Best Mortgage Lenders.