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The Best Credit Unions for Personal Loans

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

A personal loan from a credit union (sometimes called a signature loan) can offer borrowers terms that can often beat those of traditional or online banks. Because credit unions don’t have to answer to anyone but their members, they are often more willing to work with borrowers and offer reasonable terms.

This is important to note for consumers who are seeking emergency funds or looking for an affordable way to consolidate debt, two of the most common uses for personal loans. It’s even more important for borrowers with a poor or limited credit history to shop carefully for these types of loans. Although there are plentiful online loan options for these types of borrowers, they can often come with exorbitant fees and high APRs that can greatly increase the cost of borrowing.

In a new study, MagnifyMoney analysts looked at 50 of the largest credit unions in the country to see which in particular can offer its members one or more of these features.

To determine the rankings, MagnifyMoney compared:

  • Loan terms offered
  • Annual percentage rates for personal and signature loans offered
  • How quickly the funds for the loan become available once the loan is approved
  • If the credit union offered any discounts for using a payroll or automated repayment plan

Rates as of 9/18/2018

Best overall credit unions for personal loans

These credit unions offer their qualifying members the triple crown of personal loans: A lower-than-average APR, same-day funding of the loan and a discount for automating your loan repayment via payroll or share account deductions.

Ent Credit Union

Ent Credit Union was founded in 1957 to serve a Colorado Air Force base named after World War II Gen. Uzal Girard Ent. Today, the credit union serves a large geographic community, including anyone who lives, works, worships or studies in the counties of Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Pueblo and Teller, along with parts of Weld County (Firestone, Frederick, Dacono, Fort Lupton, Mead and Erie). You can also qualify for membership if you are civilian or military personnel of the Colorado Air National Guard, Colorado Army National Guard or Buckley Air Force Base. If you qualify for membership, so do your family members.

Once you’ve determined you qualify for membership, you will be able to apply for one of Ent Credit Union’s personal loans. These loans come with no application fee and no early payoff penalties. Terms range from 48 to 72 months, and you can take out as little as $500.


on Ent Credit Union’s secure website

Visions Federal Credit Union

Based in New York state, Visions Federal Credit Union is a 50-year-old organization that serves parts of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. You are eligible for membership if you live, work, worship or study in any of the following areas:

  • Broome, Chenango and Tioga counties, N.Y.
  • Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Select parts of Chemung, Rockland and Schuyler counties, N.Y.
  • Select parts of Rochester, N.Y.
  • Bradford County, Pa.
  • Select parts of south Westmoreland and north Fayette counties, Pa.
  • Select parts of Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, Pa.
  • Bergen and Passaic counties, N.J.
  • Select parts of Essex, Hudson and Union counties, N.J.

You can also qualify if you work for one of the employers listed on the “Eligible Groups” tab. If your parent or sibling is a member, you qualify for membership, too, regardless of where you live or work.

There are no prepayment penalties for either of Vision Federal Credit Union’s personal loans. The general personal loan allows you to borrow $1,000 to $30,000. If you have good credit and sufficient income, you may qualify for the Any Purpose Signature Loan, which allows you to borrow between $10,000 and $40,000, though it does come with a higher interest rate.

Your APR will vary depending on where you live, but the 0.25% autopay discount will be there for you regardless.


on Visions Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Logix Federal Credit Union

Logix Federal Credit Union also has ties to aviation. In 1937, the Burbank, Calif.-based financial institution opened to serve employees of Lockheed. Over the years, it has expanded to serve residents of California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington D.C., New Hampshire, Nevada and Virginia. You can also qualify if you have family with membership, though all members must go through a special process if they’ve moved and are now trying to get a personal loan outside of one of these geographic areas. You’re not guaranteed to be approved as the credit union may not be able to legally lend in your state, but you do still have a shot.

Personal loans through Logix Federal Credit Union come with no prepayment penalties and have terms up to 84 months. Logix’s AutoPay discount is the most generous around. If you set up automatic payments on your loan every month, your APR goes down an entire percentage point.


on Logix Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Members 1st Federal Credit Union

Members 1st Federal Credit Union is in central Pennsylvania, though you have to do more than live in the region to qualify for membership. You must work for a select employer, go to a select school or attend a select church to qualify.

Or you can become a member through affiliation with the AACA Museum, Army Heritage Center Foundation or Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. The cheapest option is the Army Heritage Center Foundation, which offers membership for as low as $25.

If your family member or domestic partner belongs to Members 1st, you automatically qualify for membership.

Personal loans at Members 1st Federal Credit Union come in two different tiers. If you are borrowing $25,000 or more, you will pay the interest rate listed above and have terms somewhere between 12 & 60 months. If you are borrowing less than $25,000, your interest rate could be a couple of percentage points higher, with the same terms available.


on Members 1st Federal Credit Union’s secure website

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

SchoolsFirst FCU serves employees in the field of education in California. You qualify for membership if you work for a public elementary or secondary school, the County Superintendents of Schools, a community college, an authorized college or university, an authorized education foundation, or a private elementary or secondary school — as long as it is listed in the state’s Department of Education School Directory. You can also qualify if you are a pension- or annuity-collecting retiree of one of these educational institutions, or if you are related to a member.

You can borrow between $500 and $50,000 on SchoolsFirst’s no-application-fee personal loans. You will also not be charged any prepayment penalties, and terms go as high as 60 months depending on how much you borrow.


on School First FCU’s secure website

Best credit unions for short-term loans

Using payday loans or credit cards to handle an unexpected expense such as a car repair can be a be a difficult treadmill to exit. But many credit unions offer smaller short-term loans at favorable rates that may be safer when you need to fill a short-term funding gap. Below are five credit unions that offer short-term loans (less than 12 months) for less than $1,000.

Security Service Federal Credit Union

Security Service Federal Credit Union was founded in 1956 to serve members of the U.S. Air Force Security Service. Based in San Antonio, the credit union serves service members in select branches, as well as residents, workers, worshippers, volunteers and students in the following areas:

  • San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Fort Collins, Loveland, Boulder and Broomfield, Colo.
  • Salt Lake and Utah counties, Utah

If you are a member, those in your family also qualify.

Security Service Federal Credit Union’s personal loans come with no prepayment penalties and terms from 2 to 66. Rates will vary depending on where you live, and the amount you can borrow ranges from $250 to $50,000.


on Security Service Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Wright-Patt Credit Union

Located in Ohio’s Miami Valley, Wright-Patt Credit Union serves a wide array of individuals and groups. You can qualify based on your employer or if you live, work, worship or study in one of the following Ohio counties: Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Darke, Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Licking, Madison, Miami, Montgomery, Pickaway, Preble, Union and Warren.

Both military and civilian employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base also qualify, along with any military and government personnel in the region who may not have a credit union available to them. If you are retired from a position with the U.S. government, you qualify regardless of place of residence — whether you were employed through the military or as a civilian. Students at Wright State University also qualify. If you are a member, your spouse and children qualify for membership as well.

Wright-Patt’s personal loans are available at an astonishingly low minimum of $500. No other credit union offers such a low minimum, and credit unions are known for offering lower minimums than banks. The interest rates are competitive, and depending on how much you borrow, loan terms can be as high as 60 months.


on Wright-Patt Credit Union’s secure website

Navy Federal Credit Union

Founded in 1933, Navy Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union, with more than 15 million member accounts. To become a member of this massive organization, you must be an active-duty member of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy or Coast Guard. Other service members that qualify include those in the Air or Army National Guards, those in the Delayed Entry Program, Department of Defense Officer Candidates, those in the ROTC, Department of Defense reservists, veterans, retirees and those who collect any annuity from the Department of Defense or its affiliated branches.

If you’re a civilian, you can qualify for membership if you’re a Department of Defense employee, a contractor with the Department of Defense assigned to a government installation, a government employee assigned to a Department of Defense installation, a Department of Defense retiree or if you collect an annuity from the Department of Defense. If you’re a family member of someone with a Navy Federal Credit Union account, you qualify, too.

You can take out a personal loan with Navy Federal Credit Union for as little as $250 and as much as $50,000. Terms are up to 6 to 60 months, but you can get a longer term if you’re borrowing money for home improvements. As long as you’re borrowing at least $25,000, your term can extend up to 84 months on these home improvement personal loans, and can be as long as 180 months if you’re borrowing $30,000 or more.


on Navy Federal Credit Union’s secure website

ESL Federal Credit Union

ESL stands for Eastman Savings and Loan Association, in reference to the legendary George Eastman, who used profits from the company he built — Kodak — to serve as a boon to the local Rochester, N.Y., community. In 1920, he launched Eastman Savings, specifically to serve the financial needs of his employees with a strong emphasis on helping them toward homeownership. In 1996, Eastman Savings became ESL Federal Credit Union.

To become a member of ESL Federal Credit Union, you must live, work, worship or study in Rochester. You can also qualify if you work for any of these employers, or if you are a member, employee, volunteer or retiree of the George Eastman Museum. Individual membership at the museum is $65, though you can gain membership for only $60 if you’re older than 65 or $25 if you’re a student. If your family member belongs to ESL Federal Credit Union, you qualify for membership, too.

ESL’s personal loans have decent rates, though they aren’t the lowest on the market. These rates also go up the longer your term is, which can be up to 120 months. But the lowest amount you can borrow is $250, which is extremely attractive for those who don’t want to borrow and pay interest on more than they need.


on ESL Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Patelco Credit Union

Patelco Credit Union was established in 1936 as a financial institution for AT&T employees. Back then, it wasn’t known as AT&T — it was the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co., which is where the credit union gets its name.

To become a member, you must live, work, worship or study in one of the following California counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Marin, Merced, Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Yolo.

You can also qualify if you live in Bakersfield, McKinleyville, Santa Cruz or Eureka. Others who qualify include students at San Francisco State University; the University of California, Berkeley; and California State University, East Bay, along with employees and members of Patelco’s sponsor organization. You can check to see if your employer is one of them here. The final group that qualifies is the family of existing Patelco members.

While Patelco offers the highest minimum loan amount in the rankings, it also offers the lowest potential APR. But this rate is only available if you are borrowing money to pay for back-to-school expenses, with a max loan term of 36 months. If you’re borrowing money to buy a computer or another electronic device, the lowest APR available is 8.80% and loan terms extend to 60 months. Loans for debt consolidation or any other purpose also have a maximum term of 60 months, but the minimum APR is 9.90%.


on Patelco Credit Union’s secure website

Best credit unions with automatic payment discounts

“Set it and forget it” is certainly best for keeping your loans current and your credit rating in good shape. And many credit unions offer discounts that knock off as much as a whole percentage point from the rate of your loan. Below are six credit unions offering the deepest discounts for setting up automatic payments.

State Employees’ Credit Union of N.C.

There is a litany of ways to join the State Employees’ Credit Union in North Carolina, and all but one of them are tied to your employer. You qualify for membership if you work for or retired from:

  • The state of North Carolina
  • The federal government, and your job requires you to work together with the state
  • A North Carolinian public board of education
  • The North Carolina National Guard
  • Any North Carolina county as long as your job is in the field of health, mental health, social services or civil defense
  • An agency or department that holds you accountable to North Carolina’s State Personnel Act

You can also qualify as a family member of someone who has an account with the State Employees’ credit union.

While this credit union does offer a fairly steep APR discount for autopay or even having your payment deducted from your paycheck, the starting rates are not incredibly competitive — even if you account for that discount. The lowest rate you could possibly get on a personal loan from this credit union is 10.75% APR as of Sept. 13, 2018.


on State Employees' Credit Union (NC)’s secure website

OnPoint Community Credit Union

OnPoint Community Credit Union serves communities in northwestern Oregon and southern Washington. You qualify for membership if you live or work in Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington or Yamhill counties in Oregon, or in the counties of either Clark or Skamania in Washington state. If your family member qualifies, so do you.

This credit union does give you a good APR discount for signing up for automatic payments, but even with the discounts, the rates are nothing to write home about. As of Sept. 13, 2018, they range from 10.00% to 16.00% APR — and that’s after accounting for the discount. Terms are up to 60 months, and you can borrow up to $25,000.


on OnPoint Community Credit Union’s secure website

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union

If you are an active or retired police officer or firefighter who serves or served in Philadelphia, you qualify for membership at the Police and Fire Federal Credit Union. So do your family members. In fact, the credit union issues referral coupons that can earn both you and your family member $400 each when they join.

If neither you nor any of your family members meet these criteria, you can check to see if your employer is one of Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s member groups, which would also qualify you for membership.

While it is encouraging to see the larger APR discount for setting up automatic payments, it should be noted that personal loans at this credit union come with a higher APR than the best on the market. As of Sept. 13, 2018, the best rate you’d be able to get after applying the autopay discount is 9.90% APR on loans up to $30,000. The max term available is 60 months.


on Police And Fire Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Digital Federal Credit Union

DCU, or Digital Federal Credit Union, was chartered in 1979. Today, it’s the largest credit union in New England, but it serves members far and wide outside of its Massachusetts home. You are eligible for DCU membership if you live, work, study or worship in Lowell, Worcester, the northern portion of Chelmsford or the western portion of Tewksbury in Massachusetts. In the state of Georgia, Cumming, Gainesville and Norcross are also eligible locales.

Other ways to qualify for membership include working for an eligible employer or living in specific condominium communities. DCU also works with several Massachusetts-based organizations to offer banking services to those organizations membership. If you want to join the credit union but don’t qualify in any other way, the least expensive way to do so is by getting a $10 membership with a nonprofit called Reach Out for Schools.

DCU’s APR on personal loans starts at 7.50%, and that’s only if you have direct deposit set up on your DCU checking account, which would be used for automatic payments. If you don’t, your potential rates would start at 9.50% APR. Terms can be as long as 60 months, and there are no prepayment penalties.


on Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)’s secure website

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union earned a spot in our best overall list partly because of its generous auto pay discount. Scroll above to learn more about SchoolsFirst.

Logix Federal Credit Union

This credit union has the most generous discount of all, which helped earn it a spot in our best overall credit union list. Scroll up to read more.


MagnifyMoney collected the rates and terms from the 50 largest credit unions by assets in July 2018. To determine the rankings, MagnifyMoney compared loan terms, the annual percentage rates for personal and signature loans offered, how quickly the funds for the loan become available once the loan is approved, and if the credit union offered any discounts for using a payroll or automated repayment plan.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Plastic Surgery Financing: 7 Ways to Pay for Your Procedure

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

If you’re considering a surgical cosmetic treatment, you may have found that plastic surgery doesn’t come cheap. When paying cash isn’t an option, you may need to consider financing the surgery. That could look like a medical loan, medical credit card, home equity line of credit or 401(k) loan, among other methods. However, you should consider all your options before taking on a large debt or pulling money out of your investments.

Does insurance cover plastic surgery?

Before you consider how to pay for plastic surgery, first get an estimate of how much the procedure will cost, along with follow-up treatments, office visits and other expenses, such as medications. Then, contact your health insurance company to see what your policy covers. How to get your insurance to pay for plastic surgery will depend on the policy, the procedure and whether it’s medically necessary. The insurer will let you know whether you’re partially or fully covered.

How to finance plastic surgery

Medical loan

Medical loans are personal loans by another name. Banks, credit unions and online lenders offer these types of loans, which come with fixed annual percentage rates (APRs) and terms ranging from 12 to 60 months or longer.

When you’re approved for a personal loan, you’ll receive the full amount of the loan upfront and then repay it in equal monthly installments. APRs usually range from around 5% to 25% or higher, depending on your credit and the lender. Loan amounts can range from $1,000 to $50,000 or more.

Most personal loans are unsecured, meaning you won’t need to pledge collateral during the application process. Your creditworthiness is typically the main factor for qualifying for the loan.

What to watch out for: Make sure you understand your loan term, APR, and total monthly payment, and whether the loan comes with any fees, such as prepayment penalties or origination fees. Also, keep in mind that a hard credit inquiry, typically done during the loan application process, may temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.

Medical credit card

A medical credit card is another option for paying for plastic surgery costs not covered by your health insurance, and they work like traditional credit cards. Some examples include the Wells Fargo Health Advantage® Card, the CareCredit Card and the Alphaeon credit card. (Note, however, that not all credit card issuers offer a medical credit card, and they aren’t the same as HSA or FSA cards.)

You get a card with a preset line of credit and APR that you can use to charge your medical bills to the card, then you can either pay off the balance or make monthly payments. Ask the card issuer whether it offers different types of monthly payment plans.

Typically, you can only use medical credit cards within a specified network of health care providers.

What to watch out for: You should understand the terms and how interest is charged before using a plastic surgery credit card. For example, a CareCredit Card for plastic surgery offered (at time of writing) a promotion in which cardholders wouldn’t pay interest on purchases of $200 or more. Cardholders needed to select a repayment option of six, 12, 18 or 24 months, and pay the amount due by the end of the promotional period. But if they didn’t pay their entire bill off within that time, interest was charged from the original purchase date at an APR of 26.99% variable for new accounts.

0% Intro APR credit card

Credit cards are another plastic surgery financing option. Depending on your credit limit, you may be able to cover some or all of your procedure with a traditional credit card. The major factor to consider is the card’s APR. The average credit card interest rate is 16.88% nationwide, but some credit cards come with a 0% introductory APR. These intro periods typically last about 12 to 21 months, and if you qualify, you’ll pay no interest during the intro period.

What to watch out for: These cards usually have deferred interest, meaning interest accrues but you don’t have to pay it during a certain time frame. For example, let’s say your 0% intro APR lasts 12 months. Interest will accrue on all the purchases you make during that time. If you pay off the balance in full during the intro period, then you won’t pay any interest on purchases you made. But if you haven’t paid off your purchases in full, then you’ll owe interest on all the purchases from the previous 12 months. Plus, the interest rate will reset to the regular APR.

Payment plan

Some plastic surgeons do payment plans, or offer in-house options for financing plastic surgery. These can vary in detail and scope, however, so it’s best to check with your doctor’s financing office to see what options may be available. For example, you may need to provide a down payment or pay a preset amount each month. Plastic surgery payment plans may be a good option for people with bad credit, as you may be able to set up a plan without a credit check.

If the medical provider doesn’t already offer an in-house payment plan, then you can propose a plastic surgery payment plan of your own. Just keep in mind: Your doctor doesn’t have to accept your proposal. Take the estimated cost of the procedure, figure out how much you can put toward the amount each month and calculate how long it would take to pay off the debt. If the medical provider accepts the proposal, then get all details in writing before going under the knife.

What to watch out for: Ask the medical provider whether it will charge a fee or interest, and what happens if you fall behind on payments.

Home equity line of credit

With a home equity line of credit, you borrow from the home equity you’ve built, which is the market value of your home minus your mortgage balance.

Here’s how they work: Lenders will generally let qualified applicants borrow up to 80% to 90% of their home value. Once approved, you can draw from the account during a time frame known as the “draw period.” You may pay off the balance and borrow again from the line of credit, paying interest only on the amount borrowed, during this time frame. The draw period is followed by a repayment period, in which you can no longer utilize the line of credit and must repay any balance you have on it.

What to watch out for: The fact you’re securing this loan with your home could spell trouble if you fall behind on payments. If you default, you could potentially lose your home — a concept that seems troubling for any surgery, but especially a voluntary cosmetic procedure.

Home equity loan

A home equity loan also allows you to borrow against the equity you’ve built in your home. It’s different from a HELOC, in that you receive a lump sum of money upfront, then repay the loan in fixed monthly installments with a fixed interest rate over time. Lenders typically allow qualified homeowners to borrow up to 85% of the home’s value.

What to watch out for: Like a HELOC, you’re securing the home equity loan with your home. If you miss several payments, the lender may foreclose on your home.

401(k) loan

Some 401(k) retirement savings plans allow participants to borrow against their balances. If you borrow from a 401(k), you’ll receive a lump sum of money and repay it, with interest, within a set time frame of five years, as regulated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to the IRS, you may borrow the lower amount of either a) $10,000 or 50% of your vested account balance (whichever is greater) or b) $50,000.

What to watch out for: Taking money out of your retirement account will likely set your retirement goals back, as your money wouldn’t be growing in investments.

Plastic surgery financing for bad credit

Personal loans

Some personal loan companies are willing to work with people with poor credit. The following lenders are listed on MagnifyMoney’s marketplace and typically offer loans to people with lower credit scores.



Learn more


Learn more


Learn more

APR range

9.99% to 35.99%

5.99% to 29.99%

6.53% to 35.99%

Loan terms

24 to 48 months

36 or 60 months

36 & 60 months

Loan amount

$2,000 to $25,000

$4,000 to $25,000

$1,000 to $50,000

Origination fee

0.00% - 6.00%

1.00% - 5.00%

Up to 8.00%

Minimum credit score requirement




What to watch out for: As personal loans typically don’t require collateral, your credit and financial situation will be heavily weighed in determining your loan eligibility and terms. If you have bad credit, that means you could face high double-digit or even triple-digit APRs.

Secured loans

If you have fair or poor credit and can’t qualify for an unsecured loan, then you may consider a secured personal loan. A secured personal loan allows you to borrow money using some form of collateral, such as a savings account or car, which protects the lender in case you default on loan payments.

What to watch out for: If you fall behind on payments, you risk losing your collateral. The lender may also report any delinquent payments to the credit bureaus, which can damage your credit scores. Weigh the benefits, drawbacks and loan terms before choosing a secured loan.

Average costs for plastic surgery

Plastic surgery costs can vary greatly, depending on the procedure and the doctor. In 2018 alone, Americans spent more than $16.5 billion on more than 17.7 million cosmetic procedures, according to a report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Here’s what some of the more common procedures cost:

4 things to consider when financing plastic surgery

  • APRs: Unless you have a 0% intro APR on your plastic surgery financing and can pay off your balance during the introductory period, you’ll want to consider your total cost of borrowing. Your APR is a great measure of that.
  • Fees: Some common fees associated with plastic surgery financing include prepayment penalties, origination fees and late payment fees. Before signing on the dotted line, ask the lender whether the loan comes with fees — and how to potentially avoid them.
  • Budget: Before applying for financing, make a budget. Ask the medical provider for a full written estimate, then figure out whether you can cover any of it with health insurance or cash savings. Borrowing only the amount you need may help you avoid debt and save on interest costs.
  • Eligibility requirements: Lenders typically check that you can repay the loan per the agreed terms. They’ll do this by checking your credit history, income and other debt payment obligations. Remember that these credit checks may have a negative effect on your credit score.

Be sure to carefully weigh the pros and cons of plastic surgery financing. Plastic surgery can cost thousands of dollars. The expense should not be taken lightly.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Women Still Do More Housework Than Men, Contributing $10K+ in Value Annually

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

When you finally get home after work, the last thing you want to do is clean last night’s dirty dishes. But the reality is that many Americans spend their evenings, and even weekends, doing chores. While you may consider hiring a professional to help around the house, doing your own chores can save you thousands of dollars every year.

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on occupational earnings and how much time Americans spend on different chores, we were able to estimate how much it would cost to pay a professional to do those chores instead. We also found that, compared with men, women contribute over $3,000 more in value each year when it comes to unpaid labor at home.

Key findings

  • The average American saves about $9,022 annually by doing their housework themselves instead of choosing to pay a professional to do the same tasks.
  • There is an enormous difference in annual savings between men and women. The average woman’s time spent on chores is worth $10,755, compared to $7,420 for men.
  • Americans spend an average of 107 minutes per day on household activities, including cleaning, food preparation and minor home repairs. When broken down by gender, men spend roughly 82 minutes per day on household activities, and women spend 130 minutes per day on average.
  • We can then multiply these numbers across every woman and man over the age of 15 to calculate the replacement value of household chores in the United States: $1.5 trillion for women and $964.4 billion for men.
  • The largest chunk (and value) of Americans’ time is spent cooking. If we assumed your time spent on cooking was replaced with that of a professional chef, the average American’s time spent cooking is worth $2,856 per year.
    • Again, there is a large disparity between annual savings for men versus women. For women, the average savings on cooking is $3,872, while for men, it’s $1,791.
  • The second-biggest time sink of household chores is general cleaning, such as laundry and tidying up. The average woman spends 50 minutes per day cleaning, while men spend just 14 minutes daily. Replacing that labor with professional cleaners costs about $13.26 per hour.
    • Over a year, the replacement value of that labor is just over $1,037 for men but $3,746 for women.

Women contribute much more value, time to housework than men

Each year, women contribute $10,755 worth of housework. Men contribute $7,420 annually, a difference of more than $3,000. This is an interesting component of the gender wage gap, because unpaid housework can affect a woman’s earning power, as noted in a recent study published by the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research. Put simply, women doing more of the free labor at home means that they have less time for paid labor outside the home (or at least less downtime).

Most activities aren’t daily, but the minutes add up

BLS data indicates that women spend an average of more than two hours each day doing housework — men spend just under an hour and a half doing these types of chores. See how many minutes per day men and women spend doing typical household chores:

Men add value through contributing labor to high-value tasks

Although men spend much less time than women doing housework on average, they handle many of the highest-paying tasks, such as car repairs and handyman work.

The three highest-paying chores — car repairs, interior and exterior maintenance and home appliance repairs — are in male-dominated verticals. Were a professional to handle these tasks instead, they would make the following hourly rates:

  1. Automotive service technicians and mechanics: $21.02
  2. Painters, construction and maintenance: $20.70
  3. Home appliance repairers: $19.72

On the other hand, women commit more time to the three lowest-paying jobs, including interior cleaning, animal and pet care and food preparation and cleanup. Professionals in these industries earn the following hourly wages:

  1. Maids and housekeeping cleaners: $11.84
  2. Non-farm animal caretakers: $12.45
  3. Restaurant cooks: $13.26

Cooking accounts for the most time spent and value earned

Americans spend 35 minutes per day on average preparing meals. Women spend more time cooking than men, at 48 minutes and 22 minutes, respectively; this time includes food preparation, as well as cleanup. According to the BLS, restaurant cooks may order supplies, plan the menu and prepare the food, making this the most comparable occupation, with an average wage of $13.26 per hour.

This means that, on average, Americans save $2,856 annually by cooking their own food, rather than paying a professional for this task.

Americans as a whole save trillions by doing their own chores

Unpaid housework isn’t included in our country’s GDP, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Americans save thousands each year by taking housework into their own hands. Annually, the completion of household chores translates to trillions of dollars in value that’s not accounted for.

American women aged 15 and older save an estimated $1.5 trillion each year by doing housework themselves rather than outsourcing the same tasks. Comparatively, American men who are 15 and older save a total of $964.4 billion. That’s a total of $2.4 trillion in value between men and women.

When housework becomes too much, budget for a professional

While doing household work yourself can translate to serious savings, chores shouldn’t get in the way of your personal or professional development. If you’re one of many Americans spending hours each day toiling away on housework, it may be time to bring in professional help.

Here are some ways to make the cost of outsourcing household chores better fit into your budget:

  • Try the 50/30/20 budget: Under this budgeting rule, you’ll put 50% of your income toward “needs” (this includes mortgage, groceries, utilities), 30% toward “wants” (cellphone bill, gym membership, dining out) and 20% toward savings and debt repayment. If you can, allocate a housekeeper or landscaper into your wants budget.
  • Refinance your car or house: You may be able to secure a lower interest rate on your auto loan or mortgage by refinancing. Lower monthly payments would allow you to make room in your monthly budget to afford help at home. Borrowers with excellent credit will get the best interest rates, while subprime borrowers will see higher interest rates. Refinancing is generally a great option when you can secure a lower interest rate than what you’re already paying.
  • Consolidate your debt: If you’re making significant payments toward multiple debts, it can freeze up a lot of your income. You could consider consolidating debt at a lower interest rate with a personal loan so you can develop a set budget and free up cash each month.


To estimate the value of American’s household chores we first looked at how much time they spent doing each activity. The BLS compiles this data through the American Time Use Survey.

We then estimated how much it would cost to replace this labor with that of a professional. For example, we replaced cleaning with occupation maids and housekeeping cleaners, food preparation with chefs and animal and pet care with nonfarm animal caretakers.

Next, we multiplied the daily hours spent on each activity by the hourly earnings for people who do that work professionally. That gave us the daily replacement value of household chores. We then multiplied that number by 365 to get the annual value. To find the total country value, we multiplied the annual value by the population over the age of 15.

Data for time spent on activities and hourly earnings of professionals comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of men and women over the age of 15 comes from the Census Bureau. All data is from 2018.

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