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First Tech Federal CU Personal Loans Review: Wide Range of Borrowing Amounts

Our review of First Tech Federal Credit Union personal loans looks at the borrowing amounts, fees, interest rates, repayment terms and membership requirements.
(3 out of 5) MyBankTracker Editor's Rating

Personal loans are a good way to borrow small to medium amounts of money when you’re short on cash.

They are highly flexible, letting you borrow money for almost any purpose, so they can be helpful whether you’re covering an unexpected bill, consolidating debt, or funding a project.

Unsecured personal loans also don’t require collateral, so you don’t need to own a home like you would for something like a home equity loan.

However, you typically need good credit to get the best rates.

If you’re in the market for a personal loan, First Tech Federal Credit Union has options that may be worth considering.

First Tech Federal CU Personal Loans Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
  • Long repayment periods
  • Low borrowing minimum
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • APR is higher that market-leading rates
  • Not the easiest to become a member

Borrowing Amounts

People don’t tend to borrow money for no reason, so when you’re applying for a personal loan, you probably have a specific financial need in mind.

There’s no point in borrowing too little to cover that need and you don’t want to borrow more than you have to, so try to find a lender that offers loans of exactly the right size.

First Tech Credit Union is incredibly flexible with the amounts you can borrow.

You can get a loan for as little as $500 or as much as $50,000, so it’s easy to borrow precisely as much as you need.

Keep in mind:

First Tech’s rates rise as the amount borrowed increases, so large loans can get expensive.

Repayment Periods

Another thing to keep in mind is the loan’s term, or how long it will take you to repay the loan by following the minimum payment schedule.

First Tech continues its flexibility with its term options, letting you select terms ranging from 2 to 7 years.

You can also choose between monthly and biweekly payments. More frequent payments also help you save on interest.

Loans with longer terms tend to have lower monthly payments but leave more time for interest to accrue.

This makes them more expensive overall. Short-term loans have higher monthly payments but are cheaper in the long run.

Application Requirements

First Tech is a credit union. Credit unions are similar to banks, but they can only offer services to their members and they must restrict their memberships in some way.

Some credit unions are highly restrictive while others make it easy for almost anyone to become a member.

First Tech makes it easy for almost anyone to become a member. To join, you have to meet one of these requirements.

  • Work for a company on First Tech’s innovative partners list in Oregon.
  • Work or live in Lane County, Oregon.
  • Belong to the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association
    • If you don’t meet either of the first two requirements, you can join one of these associations online while opening an account.

Once you join the credit union, you’ll have to open a share account, similar to a savings account, and maintain a small balance. You can then submit an application for a personal loan.

Like most personal loan applications, you’ll have to provide some basic personal information, such as your name, where you live, your Social Security number, and your annual income.

Fees and How Long it Takes to Get the Money

Many personal loans come with fees attached, and these can drive up the cost of the loan.

One of the most common fees is the origination fee.

This fee is either taken out of the amount you borrow or added to the loans initial balance. It’s typically calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed, so a 3% origination fee on a $10,000 would equal $300.

The good news:

First Tech charges no fees for its personal loans.

You don’t have to worry about application, origination, or other fees when you borrow from the credit union.

Another thing to consider when applying for a loan is how long it will take to get the money you want to borrow.

If you have an immediate need, like an unexpected car repair, you need money quickly. You can’t wait around for a few weeks while a lender considers an application and mails you a check.

First Tech excels at quick decisions, offering lending decisions in as little as 24 hours. The credit union can deposit the funds to your account as soon as the next day. 

How to Get Approved for a Personal Loan

Once you’ve decided that you need to apply for a personal loan, you should make sure to take steps to improve your odds of approval.

When you apply for a personal loan, expect the lender to ask for some basic information so it can make a lending decision.

You’ll often have to provide the following.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Proof of identity, such as a driver’s license
  • Social Security number
  • Annual income
  • Proof of income, such as bank statements or pay stubs
  • Verification of employment

It might seem like a lot of work to get all this information together, but it’s important to do so. If you leave your lender with questions, it could slow down the lending process.

At worst, the lender may decide to decline your application entirely.

Improving Your Chances of Qualifying

To give yourself the best chance of qualifying for a personal loan, here are a few things you can do.

Boost your credit score

Your credit score is one of the biggest factors in determining whether a lender approves or denies your application.

Good credit scores mean that you’re a low-risk borrower while a poor credit score means you might not repay the money you borrow.

Generally, credit scores above 750 are considered excellent and scores above 700 are good. To give yourself the best chance of qualifying for loans, try to keep your score above 700.

There are five factors that play a role in determining your credit score. They are:

  • Payment history
  • Amount owed
  • Length of credit history
  • Credit mix
  • New applications

Of the five, your payment history is the most important. Even one missed or late payment can significantly damage your score, so do your best to always pay your bills before their due dates.

The amount you owe is the second biggest factor.

This includes both the absolute amount you owe and the amount you owe in comparison to your credit card’s limits.

Avoid maxing out your credit cards and pay down your balances by as much as you can to give your credit score a boost.

Reduce your debt-to-income ratio

Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio also plays a major role in whether you’ll qualify for a loan.

This ratio compares how much debt you have or how much you have to pay toward debt each month and your annual income. The lower this ratio, the more income you have available to make payments on new debts.

There are two ways to reduce your DTI ratio.

The best way to do it is to pay down your existing debts. This gives your credit score a boost, helping with two aspects of your ability to qualify for loans.

The second option is increasing your income.

This can be more difficult in many cases. If you do go this route, make sure that your new source of income has a paper trail. If you get a job that pays under the table, lenders are unlikely to consider that income when making a lending decision.

How Does it Compare?

Fist Tech Federal Credit Union is just one of hundreds of personal lenders out there. It’s in your best interest to shop around for the best deal.

When you’re comparing different lenders, one of the first things to compare is the interest rate that each charges on its loans.

The lower the rate, the less you’ll pay over the life of the loan. Similarly, look for lenders that charge few or no fees, such as origination fees.

Also, keep in mind that each lender will have different loan maximums and minimums and different term options.

Find a lender that will let you borrow exactly as much as you need to borrow, with a repayment term that leaves you with a manageable monthly payment.

The Final Verdict

First Tech’s personal loans are a solid option for many people.

They’re incredibly flexible both in terms of the amounts that you can borrow and the repayment terms you can choose from.

The only drawback is that the interest rates may be higher than other lenders, so you might be able to save money by borrowing from another bank or credit union.