Police and Fire Federal Credit Union: 2023 Home Equity Review

PFFCU offers competitive interest rates for police officers, fire fighters and their families.

The Police and Fire Federal Credit Union, or PFFCU, is headquartered in Philadelphia and serves active and retired police, fire fighters and their families. The credit union has nearly 20 branches, and PFFCU also offers membership if you work for certain employers or organizations. 

Blue and white logo of PFFCU
Police and Fire Federal Credit Union

PFFCU offers both a home equity loan and a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, which gives you the option to choose between a fixed-rate loan and a variable loan depending on what makes the most sense for your budget. 

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union: At a glance

Types of loans offered Home equity loans, HELOCs
APR Starting at 5.24% for home equity loans, starting at 6.75% for HELOCs
Loan amount Up to $600,000
Credit score minimum N/A
Repayment terms Five-year draw period and 15-year repayment term for HELOCs, five- to 20 years for home equity loans.
Average time for approval As little as one day

PFFCU is best suited for homeowners who live in the Philadelphia region and need loans of up to $600,000. With PFFCU, you can borrow as much as 80% of your primary home's value (up to the maximum of $600,000) for up to 20 years, or 100% of your home's primary value of up to $100,000 with a 15-year repayment term. You can also borrow up to 80% of a single-family vacation home as long as it's occupied by the owner. 

What we like

  • Minimal fees: There are no application fees or closing costs with PFFCU home loans, as well as no out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Auto-pay discount: You'll receive a 0.25% discount on your rate if you sign up for auto-pay. However, loans that borrow 100% of a property's value aren't eligible for the discount and are required to set up auto-pay in order to qualify.
  • Loans for second homes and investment properties: Not all lenders offer home equity loans for vacation homes or investment properties, but it's an option with PFFCU.

What we don't like

  • Low maximum loan amount: Some people may need more than $600,000 depending on what type of life expense they're using the loan for. 
  • Limited availability: Home loans from PFFCU are only available to police officers, fire fighters and their families, and people who work at certain employers or organizations. 
  • Short draw period for HELOCs: Many lenders offer draw periods of as long as 20 years for a HELOC, which gives you the flexibility of lower interest-only monthly payments for two decades, compared with just five years of lower payments. 

Home equity loan options

PFFCU offers home equity loans and HELOCs as well as mortgages and refinancing. 

Fees

In addition to no application fees and no closing costs, the credit union also says there are no out-of-pocket costs. However, a $150 fee is charged if you choose an appraisal upgrade.

How to qualify

Your approval for a PFFCU home equity loan or HELOC will depend on a number of factors including your credit score, loan amount, loan term and loan-to-value, or LTV, ratio. Although PFFCU doesn't disclose its minimum credit score requirements, the higher your credit score, the more attractive a loan candidate you are, which should help you qualify for lower interest rates and more favorable terms. 

Banks and lenders also typically prefer to see a debt-to-income, or DTI, ratio below 36% but no higher than 43%. Make sure to shop around and compare the rates and fees from other lenders to ensure you're receiving the best offer possible. 

Getting started  

When you take out a home equity loan, you're taking out a second mortgage on your home, so you'll need to gather the necessary personal and financial paperwork, which means providing proof of income and employment with such items as tax returns, pay stubs and Form W-2s. You'll also need to demonstrate that you've been making prompt and regular payments on your current mortgage over the years.

PFFCU says its application process is easy and should only take about 10 minutes. Plus, you can be approved in as little as one day as long as you apply during regular business hours, and you can apply online, over the phone or in person at a local branch. 

Customer service

For general inquiries you can call 215-931-0300 or 800-228-8801 Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET (5:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. PT), and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. You can also visit PFFCU's loan center in person in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET, or by appointment. Saturdays are by appointment only.