While personal loans are available through countless banks and online lenders, you may also want to look at those offered by credit unions. Oregon’s First Tech Federal Credit Union offers personal loans to its members, and anyone can join with an $8 Financial Fitness Association membership. With minimum loans as small as $500 and decent interest rates, First Tech FCU could be the right lender for you, especially if you're looking for a lender that isn’t online-only or a traditional bank.
- APR Range 7.70% to 18%
- Recommended Minimum Credit Score 580
- Loan Amounts $500 to $50,000
- Loan Terms Two to seven years
- Pros and Cons
- Company Overview
Large range of loan amounts, including a low minimum
Long repayment terms
No prequalification option
Higher late and returned payment fees
- Late fee: Up to $25, depending on credit history
- Returned payment fee: $28
First Tech doesn’t charge origination or prepayment fees.
First Tech Credit Union was founded in 1952 to meet the needs of technology company employees in Oregon. Overseen by a volunteer board of directors, it offers credit cards, loans, bank accounts, insurance, and other banking services. To join, you must work for one of its tech partners or the State of Oregon, work or live in Lane County, Oregon, or belong to the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association.
Pros of First Tech Federal Credit Union
- Large loan range: You can borrow between $500 and $50,000. Loans as small as $500 are not common among major lenders. Borrowing from First Tech FCU could prevent you from turning to expensive alternatives such as payday loans or credit card advances.
- Long repayment terms: You can choose terms of 24 to 84 months for loan repayment, depending on how much you borrow. Having a long term is good if you want to maintain low monthly payments to ensure you pay on time.
- Online application: While First Tech Federal Credit Union has physical branches where you can apply for a personal loan, you can also apply online.
- Co-signer option: If you don’t qualify for a personal loan based on your individual creditworthiness, you can enlist the help of a co-signer to boost your eligibility.
Cons of First Tech Federal Credit Union
- No prequalification option: The only way to know if you can get a First Tech Federal Credit Union personal loan is to apply. That triggers a hard credit check and can cause your credit score to dip. Some other lenders allow you to prequalify, which doesn’t require a hard pull on your credit.
- Membership requirements: To apply for a personal loan, you must first join the credit union, which could mean signing up for a third-party organization like the Computer History Museum (starting at $15 per year) or the Financial Fitness Association ($8 per year). It’s important to take those extra costs into consideration.
- Higher late and returned payment fees: If your payment is late, you’re on the hook for a late fee of up to $25, depending on your credit. There’s also a $28 returned payment fee. These fees are not unusual, but they are higher than those of some other personal loan lenders, which are around $10 or $15.
First Tech Federal Credit Union Personal Loan Rates & Terms
While First Tech Federal Credit Union’s lowest fixed interest rate isn’t the lowest rate on the market, it’s the higher end of the interest rate range that’s enticing. First Tech FCU offers fixed rates from 7.70% to 18.00% APR; credit union APRs are capped at 18.00%. Other lenders may charge up to 36% APR.
Repayment terms are based on the amount you borrow and the corresponding interest rate. For instance, if you borrow between $5,000 and $35,000 with an interest rate as low as 10.20% APR, your loan term would be 48 months.
Repayment terms start at 24 months for loans starting at $500, and go up to 84 months for loans between $20,000 and $50,000.
How Much Can You Borrow With First Tech Federal?
You can borrow as little as $500 or as much as $50,000 with a First Tech Federal Credit Union personal loan. But the amount you borrow is based on your creditworthiness. If you have a solid credit history and can prove you’ll repay your loan on time every month, you might get approved for more compared to someone with a lower credit score.
First Tech Federal Credit Union Personal Loan Fees
When you take out a First Tech Federal Credit Union personal loan, you won’t get hit with origination, application, prepayment, refinance, or annual fees. But if you don’t make on-time payments, you’ll face a a late payment fee of up to $25, depending on your creditworthiness. There’s also a returned payment fee of $28. If you’re prone to missing payments or you don’t have stable enough income and think you may face these fees, consider going with a lender that doesn’t charge late fees—or charges smaller ones.
How to Get a Personal Loan From First Tech Federal Credit Union
If you’re interested in getting a personal loan from First Tech Federal Credit Union, you’ll need to first join the credit union. To join, you’ll need to live or work in Lane County, Oregon, or work for one of the credit union’s partners companies.
If you don’t meet those requirements, you can join the Computer History Museum (starting at $15 per year) or the Financial Fitness Association ($8 per year). Remember to account for those annual fees before deciding if First Tech FCU is the right lender for you.
First Tech Federal Credit Union doesn’t have a prequalification option, so the online personal loan application is the only way to know if you’re eligible. The application will trigger a hard credit check, and there’s a chance you could get denied if your score or credit history don’t meet the credit union’s lending standards.
First Tech Federal Credit Union members can get a personal loan with decent interest rates, and even borrowers with less-than-perfect credit can qualify. The credit union’s lengthy repayment terms and minimal fees mean you could score a low monthly payment, too, making it easier to fit into your budget.
However, the requirement to join the credit union means that you may need to also join and pay an annual membership fee to a third-party organization. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then you’ll need to explore other personal loan lenders—possibly ones without membership requirements.
We look at 40 data points from dozens of financial institutions to evaluate lenders for our personal loan reviews. Because a loan’s APR can dramatically impact the total cost you pay, we weight that feature the heaviest. But since a great APR usually requires at least a good credit score, we also give points to lenders who may have a higher potential APR but offer loans to people with less-than-perfect credit scores.
Along those lines, we favor lenders who allow you to see if you prequalify before applying for a loan, so you won’t harm your credit score just by applying. Origination, prepayment, and late fees all get counted in our assessment. And lastly, we deduct points from the ratings of lenders with restricted access—for instance, those who require you to first have another type of account with them or to join a nonprofit organization.
First Tech. "About Us." Accessed Oct. 16, 2020.
First Tech. "Invest in You." Accessed Oct. 16, 2020.
First Tech Federal Credit Union. "Product Rates: Loan Rates." Accessed Oct. 16, 2020.
Computer History Museum. "Join & Give." Accessed Oct. 16, 2020.
Financial Fitness Association. "Join Now: 1-Year Membership Only $8." Accessed Oct. 16, 2020.
First Tech Federal Credit Union. "Fee Schedule/Sheet." Accessed Oct. 16, 2020.
National Credit Union Administration. "Can a Credit Union Charge Any Interest Rate It Wants on Loans?" Accessed Oct. 16, 2020.