Buying a car can be pretty stressful. So if there’s any opportunity to make it a smoother, more pleasant experience you should take it, right? One way to do that is to get an auto loan through a credit union.
Credit unions are often overlooked resources that can make the car-buying process much easier because they offer lower interest rates, more favorable loan terms, and personalized service that puts your needs front and center.
On the flip side, traditional banks and car dealerships tend to focus primarily on the transactional nature of the process with the primary concern being closing the sale—rather than ensuring your long-term financial health.
Read on as we cover the ins and outs of credit union auto loans and the value they can bring to your car-buying journey.
BANKS VS CREDIT UNIONS: A BRIEF OVERVIEW
Banks and credit unions serve the same purpose: they offer an array of financial services. However, there's a fundamental difference in their operational structures. Banks are for-profit institutions, while credit unions are not-for-profit.
Owned by shareholders, banks are driven by generating profits that are distributed back to their investors. This means banks often charge high fees and have a less customer-centric outlook when it comes to service.
Credit unions, on the other hand, are member-owned cooperatives, which means they are more focused on serving their members than maximizing profits. And the profits they do make are returned to their members in the form of lower interest rates and reduced fees. This distinction leads to several benefits, particularly when it comes to auto loans.
CREDIT UNION AUTO LOAN BENEFITS
So what, then, is so special about credit unions when it comes to auto loan benefits? In the vast landscape of auto financing options, credit unions come out on top as a compelling choice because of the multiple advantages they offer, like:
Credit unions generally have lower overheads than banks and dealerships, and they pass on these savings to members through lower interest rates and fees. That’s a pretty big benefit, don’t you think?
For example, Foothill Credit Union members save a substantial amount on interest rates compared to bank or dealership financing. This often translates to lower monthly payments and significant savings over the life of the loan.
Getting pre-approved for an auto loan is a smart move. By doing so, you’ll know your interest rate in advance and exactly how much you can borrow. This valuable information can give you solid ground in negotiations and keep you focused on cars within your budget.
Superior Customer Service
Credit unions are member-owned entities and invest in the welfare of their members. This often results in more personalized and friendly customer service. You're not just an account number at a credit union—you're a valued member of a financial family.
Customization and Flexibility
If you find yourself with specific needs or unique circumstances, credit unions are more inclined to work with you to create a loan that best suits your situation. This could mean coming up with flexible payment schedules, terms, and even alternatives for those whose credit is less than perfect.
UNDERSTANDING THE AUTO LOAN PROCESS WITH CREDIT UNIONS
Before you set your sights on that dream car, it’s important to understand the basics of securing a credit union auto loan.
Becoming a Member
You’ll first need to join a credit union before you apply for an auto loan. To do this, you’ll have to meet specific requirements. These are typically related to where you live, work, or your association with specific groups or organizations.
Once your eligibility is determined, the rest of the process is simple. You'll complete an application, provide identification, and make a small initial deposit—often as little as just $5.
Credit Score Requirements
Credit unions typically have more flexible lending criteria than banks. Although having a good credit score is an advantage, credit unions might be more willing to work with individuals with average or below-average credit scores. If your score’s not perfect, it’s not held against you because a credit union’s primary goal is your financial wellness and success.
Apply for the Loan
After becoming a member, you can apply for the loan online or at a branch. You’ll need to fill out an application form and provide personal information such as name, address, income, place of employment, etc.
Provide Income Proof
Credit unions typically require proof of income to ensure you have the means to repay the loan. So you’ll need to provide documents like recent pay stubs, tax returns, or bank statements as part of the application process.
Finalize the Loan
A loan officer will review your application and then contact you to let you know how much you’ve been approved for and to discuss the loan terms. You’ll then sign the loan agreement, receive the funds for your auto purchase, and go pick out your new wheels!
THE FOOTHILL CREDIT UNION CAR-BUYING ADVANTAGE
Our credit union offers an array of advantages that make it an outstanding choice for your auto loan:
- Loans for both new and used vehicles
- Up to 100% financing available for new vehicles
- Competitive low rates, with loan terms extending up to 96 months
- Interest rate discounts are available for qualifying members
- No loan origination fee, meaning less cost up front
- Easy application process that’s streamlined to give you potentially same-day access to funds
- Refinancing options to possibly lower your monthly payments or interest rate
- Skip-a-Pay option that provides flexibility during financially tight months
Autoland Car Buying Services
We have partnered with Autoland Car Buying Services to streamline your car-buying experience. You’ll avoid high-pressure sales tactics and inflated sticker prices without ever stepping foot into a dealership.
An Autoland consultant will work on your behalf to:
- Find a new or pre-owned vehicle at a fair price
- Coordinate your Foothill auto loan (which includes a quarter percent discount on your loan rate when you buy through Autoland)
- Ensure a great value for your trade-in
- Provide a CARFAX vehicle history report for pre-owned vehicles
- Ensure you receive all available manufacturer incentives
- And even have your vehicle conveniently delivered to you!
With Autoland, the power of choice is at your fingertips since you can browse thousands of vehicles online. Additionally, their no-hassle, no-haggle policy ensures a straightforward and transparent buying experience, guaranteeing a fair price.
HOW TO APPLY ONLINE
We offer the convenience of easy online auto loan applications. You’ll need to provide personal information, details of the vehicle you want to purchase, and consent to a credit check. After submission, a loan officer will review your application and contact you to discuss the next steps.
BENEFITS OF JOINING OUR COMMUNITY
Becoming a member gives you access to many benefits, such as better interest rates and lower fees than you would find at traditional banks. As a nonprofit organization, we operate with a member-centric philosophy that puts your needs first.
The National Credit Union Association (NCUA) insures deposits up to $250,000, providing the same level of insurance protection the FDIC offers for banks. By joining our credit union, you become part of a community that prioritizes your financial well-being and fosters a more personalized banking experience.
GET BEHIND THE WHEEL FASTER WITH FOOTHILL CREDIT UNION
When you choose a credit union for your auto loan, you’re opting for lower rates, superior customer service, and becoming part of a community that puts your needs first. With Foothill Credit Union, you stand to save a substantial amount while enjoying hassle-free and personalized service.
Ready to make a savvy financial decision? Click below to learn more about our auto loans and start your application process today!
See Our Auto Loan Benefits & Low Rates