General

8 Best Auto Loan Credit Unions

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In general, credit unions offer better car loan rates than banks or dealers, saving you money now and over time. This is because credit unions are not profit driven like banks and do not count on getting the most out of the loans they approve.

Like banks, credit unions decide to make loans depending on your creditworthiness, your employment history and your income. However, credit unions are often more willing to partner with those with fair or bad credit — scores less than 669 — when it comes to car financing.

Best Auto Loan Credit Unions

Before choosing which credit union to take out a car loan with, take the time to compare the APRs and loan terms. Most credit unions require you to meet certain qualifications to apply for a loan, so make sure you qualify before applying.

Here are eight best auto loan credit unions.

NIH Federal Credit Union

Serving the biomedical industry, the National Institutes of Health Federal Credit Union offers its members flexible terms and low rates on new, used, and refinancing auto loans. You can join the credit union if you’re a member of the healthcare or biomedical industry in Maryland, Washington DC, North Carolina, Virginia, or West Virginia — or if you’re a relative of someone who is enrolled. If not, the credit union will enroll you in a free membership of the American Consumer Council, making you eligible.

Why it stands out: Perhaps one of the best NIHFCU loan features is its online application process, which only takes a few minutes to generate results. In addition, if you open an NIHFCU TotalCare checking account and set up direct debits for your loan payments, the credit union will lower your APR by 0.25%.

Advantages:

  • Discount for setting up direct debit payments from TotalCare checking account

  • Auto Loans with starting APRs of less than 3% with maturities up to 60 months

  • 90-day first payment deferral is available on all car loans

  • Anyone can be eligible for membership

cons:

What to look for: NIH Federal Credit Union offers standard starting APRs of 2.24% for new and used auto loans with maturities up to 36 months, 2.74% for auto loans from 37 to 48 months, and 2.99% for auto loans from 49 to 60 months. Other terms and rates are available. Loan amounts are funded up to $200,000.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Serving members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as military bases in Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa, PenFed Credit Union offers its members substantial car financing options. The good news is that anyone can participate. In addition to the standard financing, this credit union also offers an online car purchase service tool.

Why it stands out: Their unique car buying tool allows members to search for new or used cars and get a variety of information such as value compared to asking price, as well as an alert of any PenFed discounts. Interest rates on car loans fall to 3.44% APR on cars purchased through PenFed’s car buying service.

Advantages:

  • Loan Amounts up to $150,000

  • Discounted rates through PenFed’s car buying service

  • Conditions available up to 84 months

cons:

What to look for: PenFed Credit Union offers auto loan terms from 36 to 84 months on new vehicles with APRs from 4.24% to 6.04%. Up to 125% financing is available in the US

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union partners with companies like Autoland and Enterprise to offer customers exclusive savings. To join, you must be a current or retired school employee or part of their family.

Why it stands out: In addition to all the different ways to save, SchoolsFirst also offers borrowers the option to request an automatic check, which allows you to write a check for the vehicle from the dealer up to the approved loan amount. It also offers: Assured Asset Protection insurance with deductible and options for 90 days no benefit.

Advantages:

  • Offers a car loan for school employees with ‘Summers Off’, which allows eligible members to defer one or two consecutive summer car loan payments

  • Allows you to finance a car from a private seller

  • Do not make payments for the first 90 days

cons:

What to look for: SchoolsFirst Credit Union offers new and used car loans from 36 to 84 months. New car APRs start at 2.49% and used car APRs start at 2.64%. The maximum loan amount is 100% of the MSRP or Kelley Blue Book suggested retail value.

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union offers excellent car loans to finance new cars with maturities up to eight years. You can join if you’re affiliated with the military, Department of Defense, Coast Guard, or National Guard.

Why it stands out: Borrowers can expect convenience when applying for a loan online, and if they receive a pre-approved loan, Navy Federal will write a check for the loan amount. Other benefits available to members include access to GAP – guaranteed car protection – insurance.

Advantages:

cons:

What to look for: Federal Navy offers entry-level APRs of just 2.79% for new vehicles and 2.89% for late-model used vehicles with maturities of up to 96 months for new vehicles and 72 months for used vehicles. Pre-approval checks for auto loans and interest rates are valid for 90 days from the date of approval.

NASA Federal Credit Union

NASA Federal Credit Union members include current and retired employees of NASA headquarters, any NASA center or facility or NAS, plus employees or members — and their families — of one of NFCU’s partner companies or associations. They offer flexible terms and low rates for new and used car financing, as well as car loan refinancing.

Why it stands out: Among its features is the ability for members to apply online and get pre-approved quickly. By already having financing, members have the advantage at the car dealership because they can focus on negotiating the car price rather than the loan terms.

Advantages:

cons:

What to look for: NASA Federal offers the same rates for both new and used vehicles. Rates start at 2.89% APR for up to 36 months and 2.99% APR for rates up to 63 months. Other rates and conditions are possible.

Suncoast Credit Union

This Florida credit union offers a variety of vehicle-related products to help its members save money. You can join this organization if you live in one of the eligible Florida counties listed by the credit union, you are a Florida College alumnus, or are a relative of someone who does qualify.

Why it stands out: Suncoast will pre-approve for a loan online so you know what your budget is when you walk into a dealership. In addition to car financing and sales, Suncoast’s Mechanical Repair coverage also includes rental, 24-hour roadside assistance and travel reimbursement.

Advantages:

  • Highly competitive financing rates for new and used cars from 2.50% APR

  • Special Savings on Eco Vehicle Loans – Rates Start at 2.25% APR

  • Online approval, purchase and delivery options

  • Collaborated with TrueCar and CU AutoBranch

cons:

What to look for: Suncoast Credit Union offers new and used car loans with APRs as low as 2.50% for up to 72 months. Other rates and terms of up to 84 months are possible.

Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union

You can join if you are a member of the military, live in certain parts of Texas, or are a relative of someone who qualifies. It doesn’t matter if you buy a new car, a used car or refinance your current car, you get the same great rate with RBFCU.

Why it stands out: This credit union offers online help to members preparing to buy a used or new car, with online calculators to determine how much they can afford to borrow and whether a new or used car is the best financial choice. Randolph Brooks also provides coverage for mechanical repairs and GAP Plus.

Advantages:

  • Rates are the same whether you are new, used or refinance

  • Qualified members can defer their first payment for up to 60 days from the loan date

  • Streamlined recording process for titles and loans

cons:

What to look for: You can easily apply for an RBFCU car loan online if you are not near or prefer not to visit a branch. For car loans from 24 to 72 months, RBFCU offers a starting APR of 3.74%. For loans with a term of 78 to 84 months, the starting JK increases to 5.25%.

Alliance Credit Union

Alliant Credit Union lets you join if you are an employee or family member of an eligible company, live or work in certain Chicago communities, or donate to become a member of Foster Care to Success.

Why it stands out: Alliance Credit Union offers both new and used auto loans with same day approval and refinancing options. Alliant also has an auto-buying service that saves members an average of $3,750 off the suggested retail price.

Advantages:

cons:

What to look for: New vehicle rates start at 3.69% APR and used vehicle rates start at 4.04% APR. APRs as low as 3.19% for new Tesla financing.

last take

Before choosing a credit union to fund your next vehicle, make sure you qualify for membership. Next, you need to compare the rates and conditions of car loans. The make and age of the vehicle and the term you want will all affect the rate you are offered, but not every credit union will make the same offer. That’s why it makes sense to review several credit unions to find the best deal.

Gabrielle OlyaBarri Segal and Ruth Sarreal contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: Credit unions were ranked in order from lowest auto loan APR available to highest. APRs are effective from June 29, 2022. Rates are subject to change at the discretion of the lenders.

GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc. an online marketing company serving leading banks, credit unions and other financial services companies. Some of the companies mentioned in this article may be customers of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local, and online financial institutions. Rankings and roundups are completely objective and no institution, customer or otherwise, is paid for inclusion or specific placement. Any opinions, analysis, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author only and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or otherwise endorsed by the companies featured in the article.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com8 Best Auto Loan Credit Unions