Golden 1 Credit Union: 2023 Home Equity Review

Golden 1 offers flexible home equity loan options for homeowners in California.

Golden 1 Credit Union was founded in Sacramento in 1933 and is one of the largest credit unions in the country. Although it only serves California, Golden 1 has over one million members and more than $18 billion in assets. The west coast lender consistently ranks highly in surveys for customer service, and was named the third most-admired financial institution by American Banker last year. Golden 1 offers home equity loans and home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, to homeowners in the Golden state.

Golden 1 Credit Union: At a glance

Types of loans offered Home equity loan HELOC
APR range Starting at 7.49% Starting at 8.25%
Loan amount $25,000 to $500,000 $25,000 to $500,000
Credit score minimum N/A N/A
Repayment terms Up to 20 years 14-year, 11-month draw period, 15 year repayment period
Average time for approval 30 days 30 days

If you're a homeowner in California looking for flexible home equity loan options with minimal fees, Golden 1 may fit the bill. It offers fixed-rate conversions for its HELOCs; you can borrow up to 80% of your home's value; and the loans can be used for a primary residence as well as a second home or investment property. 

What we like

  • Fixed-rate HELOC conversion: Golden 1's HELOC offers a variable interest rate that fluctuates with market conditions. It also offers the option to convert a portion or your entire HELOC into a fixed-rate equity loan – a choice some lenders don't provide. You can make up to five fixed-rate conversions with a minimal withdrawal of $5,000 each time. But keep in mind that Golden 1's interest rates for fixed loans are slightly higher than its rates for variable rate loans.
  • Minimal fees: This credit union charges no application fees, no annual fees and no prepayment penalties. Golden 1 also covers closing costs.
  • Balance transfers: You can transfer loan balances from other accounts with higher interest rates to your HELOC.

What we don't like

  • Limited availability: Golden 1 home equity loans are available only to homeowners in California.
  • High fixed rates: The lowest fixed interest rate is 8.25%, which is higher than the national average rate of 7.77%, according to Bankrate.
  • High minimum loan amount: The $25,000 minimum may be overkill. If you only need enough to cover a small project like redoing a guest bathroom or home office, you could end up paying interest on funds you won't use, adding to the total cost of your loan.

Home equity loan options

Golden 1 offers home equity loans and HELOCs for both owner-occupied homes and second homes, as well as mortgages and refinancing. 

Fees

Golden 1 is a consumer-friendly lender, charging no application fees, annual fees or prepayment penalties. There are no additional fees to use or maintain your account, either, and closing costs are waived as well. If you pay off your HELOC in full within three years of opening your account, however, you'll be charged an early closure penalty of $500 or 2% of your original credit limit (whichever is less) for owner occupied properties and $500 for non-owner-occupied properties.

How to qualify

Golden 1 doesn't disclose its minimum credit score requirements. That noted, the higher your credit score, the more attractive a loan candidate you make, which should yield a better interest rate. Banks and lenders also like to see a debt-to-income, or DTI, ratio between 36% and 43%. In addition to having built sufficient equity in your home, you must also have up-to-date property insurance and flood insurance, if it's required where you live. 

Getting started

A home equity loan is a mortgage, so you'll need to gather the standard personal and financial paperwork. This includes providing proof of income and employment with tax returns, pay stubs and W-2s. You'll also be expected to show that you've been making prompt and regular payments on your current mortgage.

Customer service

Golden 1 has more than 70 branches and home loan centers across California. You can reach customer service via email at homeloanadvisors@golden1.com or call 800-917-9000 from Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT, Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT. To speak with an equity representative specifically about a fixed-rate conversion for your HELOC, you can call 877-465-3361, ext. 5676.