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6 reasons to get a credit union car loan

Financing your next new-car purchase through a credit union can be a great idea. Whether or not you are currently a member of one of the nation's nearly 7,700 credit unions, buying your next new car with a credit union car loan is easier than ever.

Owned by 89 credit union organizations, Credit Union Direct Lending, or CUDL, is the liaison between more than 800 credit unions and some 6,500 new-car dealers, making credit union car loan options available at car dealerships for credit union members and consumers willing to become members, says CUDL's spokesman Bill Meyer.

Here are six reasons Meyer presented for financing your next new car through a credit union:

  • Car loan money is available. The country's credit unions made $80 billion available in 2009 during the financial crisis for low-cost car loans at a time when credit had dried up. Although banks are once again becoming more aggressive in making car loans, credit unions have the funds and healthy relationships with car dealers to continue lending, Meyer says.
  • Member- and community-oriented. Although there are no major differences in the processes that banks and credit unions use in making a car loan, credit unions are more likely than banks to work with you if you experience difficulty making the payments at some time during the loan, Meyer says. "Credit unions are more in tune with their local communities."
  • Competitive rates and terms. Offering competitive rates and terms, a local credit union provides car loan options every bit as varied as a nationwide bank. According to CUDL's statistics, the average term for a credit union new-car loan in 2009 was 70 months. Meyer says, "Typically, the rate of lending is very competitive compared to other lenders under most circumstances."
  • Relaxed membership requirements. It used to be that membership in a credit union was only open to employees of a certain company, industry or government entity. Anyone not a part of the group could not join. Meyer says this is no longer the case. "Most credit unions will allow anyone to join," he says.

According to Meyer, consumers not belonging to a credit union can join at any car dealership offering credit union car loan options through CUDL. When discussing financing with a dealership finance manager, consumers should explore credit unions for their car loan. "Consumers should ask a dealership, 'What credit unions do you work with?'" Meyer says.

  • User-friendly loan process. Members used to have to go into the credit union office and apply for a car loan face-to-face with a loan officer. Not so today, according to Meyer. Car loan applications can be made at a participating dealership, online or over the phone in most cases.
  • Member perks. In addition to competitive rates, credit unions often offer their members deals not available to other consumers. "These promotions are typically unique to credit unions, and are very common," Meyer says.

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