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Car Shopping? Here’s Why a Credit Union Should Be Your First Stop

By: American Heritage02.21.19
Woman Shopping in Car Dealership
Whether you find car buying exciting or nerve-racking, there’s no denying that this process comes with a lot of questions: What will give me the best gas mileage? How much are the maintenance costs? Does this only come in yellow? And most important: How do I avoid overspending?

When you buy your next car, truck, or SUV, you’ll probably look for a dealer that’s known to be trustworthy and professional. You should be just as picky about where you apply for an auto loan. After all, interest rates and service quality vary widely from one lender to the next – and you never have to settle for the financing option offered by the dealer.

Here’s why an auto loan from your local credit union could be the best way to get behind the wheel.

1. Lower Rates

Unlike banks and the financing divisions of car manufacturers, credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions. They exist to serve their members and pass along their “profits” in the form of better rates and fewer fees. One way they do this is by providing more affordable auto loans. Whether you’re looking for a simple three-year loan or want a longer term to keep your payments lower, the best rate on an auto loan is often at your local credit union. Borrowers can save big each month and potentially save hundreds over the life of their loan.

While many lenders charge exorbitant rates for those with weaker credit scores, credit unions often have more flexibility in the underwriting process. This gives them the ability to help more borrowers access affordable financing – even if their credit is less than stellar.

2. Auto Loans Are a Specialty

When it comes to service and dependability, experience counts. According to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), auto loans make up more than one-third of credit unions’ lending business, accounting for hundreds of billions of dollars in recent new and used car loans. This expertise makes credit unions a reliable, hassle-free lender, and many car dealers recommend them to customers for this reason.

3. Easy Process, No Surprises

You’ll have enough to think about as you research and test-drive cars, so you’ll want to keep the financing process as simple as possible. At credit unions like American Heritage, you can easily go online or visit a local branch to get pre-approved, which will help you determine your budget and simplify the purchasing process.

It’s important to understand that some aggressive car dealers may use the car finance process to squeeze extra profits from the sale. This may happen by marking up your interest rate or pushing more expensive options (such as long-term loans, which cost less each month but accumulate more interest over time). As member-owned organizations, credit unions make the process as straightforward as possible, so you know exactly what you’re paying for and can choose the financing option that fits your needs.

Here at American Heritage, you can use our interest rate calculators to compare loans and interest rates to see what’s best for you.

Many car companies hold seasonal sales events with special 0% financing offers. These may be a great deal for some, but keep in mind that they come with lots of fine print. The 0% offer usually only applies to short-term loans, and some hopeful car buyers get a rude awakening when they discover they don’t qualify for this offer. This is another reason to get pre-approved by a credit union before you step onto the dealer’s lot.

4. Extra Benefits & Services

Many credit unions also offer a wide array of affordable services to make finding, buying, and owning your car as easy as possible. Here at American Heritage, we offer:  
  • Free CARFAX Reports – Avoid ending up with a lemon by receiving up to two free CARFAX Reports per year for American Heritage members.
  • A full array of insurance options – Members can access discounted auto insurance through our partner insurance providers, plus other valuable coverage options like Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) and Mechanical Repair Coverage (MRC).
  • Car-buying services – Buying a vehicle is a big financial decision, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Through our partnerships with CUDL AutoSmart and Enterprise Car Sales, members have access to two convenient services designed to help them find the right vehicle, save time and money, and avoid high-pressure sales tactics


5. Members Get More

Here at American Heritage, affordable auto loans are just the beginning. We also offer a full array of accounts, loans, and financial services to support all your financial needs, both today and down the road. As members, our auto loan borrowers have full access to all our products and services and can enjoy higher dividends, lower borrowing costs, and a nationwide network of more than 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs.

6. Joining Is Easy

There are many easy ways to qualify for credit union membership, and you can join at the same time that you apply for your auto loan. When it’s time to buy your car – or just about any other vehicle – take advantage of our great rates and fast, friendly service by getting pre-approved for an affordable auto loan from American Heritage.



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