Benefits of Credit Union auto loans

For most, buying a car can be an exciting yet stressful milestone. And, with 107 million Americans with auto loans, it seems an essential element to the car-buying process involves securing and agreeing to an auto loan. The excitement of car buying often puts the type of car – rather than the terms of the loan and the lender – on the forefront, leaving the loan itself as a necessary afterthought.

Well, with 6.3 million Americans late on their payments, and many, many more agreeing to bad loan terms on a whim, it’s time to be more conscious consumers of both cars and the loans we use to purchase them.

The two main avenues for auto loans come from the auto manufacturers themselves and from consumers’ main (or only) bank. However, there is a lesser-known lending option: the Credit Union.

Though Credit Unions are a formidable, growing force with great benefits, they are still a less often considered option for auto loans, especially to those who do not bank with them.

3 reasons why you should get an auto loan at a credit union

1. Better rates.

Currently, credit unions don’t pay taxes. This alleviates much of the cost associated with generally conducting business. Plus, for the #2 reason listed below, members are all considered equally important for the health of the credit union, so they will work harder to get you approved at their best possible rate. Though at times their rates are comparable to banks’, CUs are usually have much more competitive for auto loans, personal loans, and credit cards.

2. As a member, you’re an owner.

At Credit Unions, each member is a part-owner of the organization and has an equal voting share. Plus, once you’re a member, you’re always a member. That means that CUs have more of an “individual” mindset; understanding that each member’s situation is different and that each member deserves to have the best possible change to reap the benefits that their membership can offer. This means that CU members reap three main benefits:

  • Loan applicants will look deeper and harder to ensure that you qualify for a loan.
  • Members are active participants with their banking institution and it tends to give people a community mindset.
  • CU members typically experience lower rates than bank customers.
  • Because of this, bonds between members and their Credit Union is stronger than bonds between a customer and their bank.

3. Same offerings as a bank.

Credit Unions have the same terms and conditions and the same protective products available to their members as banks have to their customers. Additionally, while banks are more focused on mortgages and commercial interest loans rather than on fixed rate loans (like auto loans), CUs focus on the opposite. The “bread and butter” of Credit Unions are fixed rate/auto loans, so not only are they good at it, but they’re competitive with each other, further motivating them to lower rates for those loan types.

Big Picture

Clearly, Credit Unions are the way to go, which is why they comprise such a large portion of our lender network. Many people have the mindset that CUs have very selective or specific membership guidelines, but they really aren’t as difficult to get into as you might think. CUs with a growth mindset can and have legally expanded their membership parameters. So, go by your local Credit Union and check them out!

If you’ve already committed to an auto loan, not to worry. Luckily, not only do we work with mostly credit unions, but we shop them for the best rates on your new loan on your behalf. At no cost to you.


From the Desk of Roger Douville

Refinance loans a viable option for loan growth

Growing and sustaining a consumer loan portfolio is a daunting task. I speak with the heads of many lending departments across the country about loan growth and how to get it. So many lenders turn to indirect in their haste to satisfy their appetite for loans. There’s no doubt that a well-funded, well-executed indirect program can pad your loan outstandings quickly, but indirect lending comes with unique risk and is expensive to acquire and manage. Of particular concern is the indirect treadmill many lenders find themselves on when the indirect portfolio starts to run off at 22 – 24 months, adding to the expense of acquisition.

On the other hand, the advantages of refinance auto loans may offer an alternative to the traditional indirect treadmill. Refinance loans typically stay on the books for approximately 33 months. Some clients report even longer periods of 36 months! Another advantage that contributes to positive performance is the fact that your underwriters can see the performance of the borrower on the exact collateral you will be holding. It takes some of the mystery away.

While lowering the interest rate on the previous loan may be part of the reason for the refi, the primary motivation is payment relief. True, there may be an underlying reason or financial stress driving the refinance that your underwriters may have to uncover. For the most part, people are simply looking to save money, make room in their monthly budgets, or add a vehicle service contract to protect themselves from a budget busting event. And with better built autos lasting longer (and costing more to repair) doesn’t a refinance request give you confidence that the borrower is taking control of his/her finances?

So how do refinance loans perform? Quite well, thank you. My lender base reports that delinquency typically outshines an indirect portfolio with losses in the .45% range. Delinquency depending on the aggressiveness of your underwriting and collection team land in the .75% range.

Refinance, like any lending initiative requires a lot of heavy lifting handling many moving parts. If you feel you may not have the assets to pull off the operation, then explore partnerships with proven companies that can get you there. You’ll be glad you did and your loan portfolio will be healthier because of it.

All the best,

Roger Douville
VP of Lending Services, rateGenius, Inc.

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Can money buy love and happiness?

Money is everything, but it’s also not everything. We know, “that’s a little confusing”, but hear us out.

We love and need money. Whether we like it or not, our world revolves around it, both on a planetary and individual level. Though money both prompts and funds most of our life choices, there are also non-economic elements; things like health, purpose, love, peace, and happiness within the human experience that motivate us to behave in certain ways. Though they are separate from money, and are achievable without, achieving these non-economic goals can be, and typically are, integrated somehow with having money.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, many of us have love and happiness on our minds, as those factors seem to be associated quite a bit – especially this time of year.

And, since we’re advocates of strong personal finances, it seems prudent to discuss money’s role in achieving these important goals.

Money and dating

Most of us want to have lots of money, love, and happiness. For the single population especially, one or all of these elements could be missing or in need of improvement. So, can money buy love and happiness?

The answer is: yes and no.


According to a study, money can buy happiness. Money buys happiness when used to purchase free time, e.g. a vacation, certain days off, and having more time to explore oneself and one’s interests. Removing (even temporarily) or reducing daily time stresses can increase happiness. Since “time is money”, cash is typically involved in buying time.

So, sure, money can and does buy happiness, but only to do a degree. Another study on the relationship with money and happiness determined that higher income is associated with less daily sadness, but not more daily happiness.

“Money buys freedom from worry about the basic things in life” (Psychology Today); it creates circumstances that induce happiness, but it is not completely fulfilling.


Unlike happiness, research does not show that money is able to purchase love itself. However, according to an article by Psychology Today, money might not be able to buy  love, but it can increase the chances of love. There’s two reasons why:


There are two genres of money-related attraction. First, there are those who are attracted to people with money. Money makes life easier. For those who seek stability or a comfortable lifestyle, money is an attractive element that can eventually lead to a loving relationship. Next, there are those who are attracted to similarity (most people). Studies show that not only are we more attracted to those who are similar to us, but also to those with whom we share similar attitudes and habits about money. Essentially, we are hard wired to be attracted to financially compatible partners. This makes sense because money habits are related to personality traits, and strong couples tend to have compatible personalities.

Favorable Circumstances. 

Money generates circumstances that are more favorable to love such as stability and lack of concern over basic needs.

Dating Big Picture

Money, in fact, cannot make you fully happy or fall in love, but that it can help you get there. So, if you’re single, here’s some tips to help you attract what else you’re seeking.

  • Maintain or build your income.
  • Develop good financial habits and budgets.
  • Seek those who do, too.
  • Buy happiness in stability, free time, and life experiences.
  • Good luck out there. Love is in the air!

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Loan-To-Value (LTV) Ratio: What it means for you

Many terms and acronyms may be thrown around during the loan approval process, especially when refinancing. Unless you’re well-versed in personal finance and banking, you may not fully understand the information you receive. In order to be a more informed and conscious consumer, it’s important to know what some of those terms mean. One of the most commonly question acronyms is “LTV”, or loan-to-value ratio.

LTV is a number that compares the value of the asset to the loan that it secures. Put another way, when you purchase a car, your lender issues a loan plus interest to help you make the deal. Technically, because your lender issued the funds to purchase the car, that car is collateral in the event that you default on your payments. So, LTV is the ratio that determines the level to which the asset will pay off the loan.

A more common phrase associated with LTV is being “upside down.” When a borrower is “upside down,” it means that they owe more than what the car is worth. People who are “upside down” have a high LTV.

So, why is LTV important?

LTV is an assessment of risk. Lenders are notorious for favoring less “risky” applicants for loans. They assess a number of criteria (credit score, LTV, DTI, and others) to determine the likelihood that each person will make their payments, on time, for the duration of the loan. After all, lenders want to get not just their money back, but also the interest rate on top of that.

LTV determines risk because in the event that the borrower defaults, it determines the return on the loan that the collateral’s value would provide. A higher LTV means that the asset is less likely to pay off the loan, and that’s why higher LTVs are less likely to be approved for refinancing.

I might have a high LTV. Am I doomed?

You’re not doomed. A high LTV will make your loan application less appealing for lenders, but isn’t guaranteed that you’ll be denied. Instead, your lender may give you a higher interest rate or add certain stipulations onto your loan in order to mitigate risk.

There’s more to the story

Though LTV ratios are an important component in lender decisioning, it’s not the only piece to the puzzle. Offers are typically based on the combination of several factors, so even if you have a high LTV you could still be eligible for refinancing.

We always advise customers that the earlier you refinance your current loan, the better. Because cars lose value relatively quickly, the sooner you refinance, the less likely you are to have a higher LTV ratio.

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A Guide to Auto Refinancing


Many people associate financial changes with stress, especially when it comes to refinancing a loan. Some expect the process to be a hassle, some stress because they don’t know what to expect, and, more rarely,  some feel perfectly comfortable. Regardless of which category you identify with, we created a guide that should provide you with helpful knowledge to keep you informed about what to expect, make the process as simple as possible, and, of course, to help save you money.

1. Do it sooner than later.

Because interest accrues every day, and since  your vehicle becomes less valuable with every mile, the longer you wait, the higher loan-to-value (LTV) ratio you’ll have. LTV is an important factor for lenders when deciding to make you an offer.

2. Expect to have paperwork. 

No matter whether refinancing with rateGenius or another company, paperwork is a tedious, yet necessary, part of the process. Refinancing requires the coordination and cooperation between different lenders and bureaucracies across the United States, which can sometimes require extra documentation and a bit of patience. Luckily, we do our best to alleviate as much stress as we can by handling the rest of the process.

3. The process is typically quick, but sometimes it can be tricky. 

This is the case especially for lease buyouts and for transfers of ownership.

4. Apply with accurate information. 

This is one of the most important things to keep in mind, as it can determine the ease of your refinance process. Lenders base their decision and offer on the information provided in customers’ applications. Sometimes, however, once customers complete and submit the documents for their accepted offer, the information does not match their application. This can result in rescinded offers,  therefore requiring new approval (or not), and new documentation to coincide with that approval. This significantly delays the process, and will likely result in a different rate than you originally agreed to. Always make sure that what you enter into your application is correct; that the name you enter matches your driver’s license, and that you list your income and vehicle’s mileage with 100% accuracy.  

5. Do your own math. 

This is a general rule of thumb for all things financial.  Though we provide accurate and in-depth explanations of loan terms to our customers,  it always feels reassuring to do the math yourself to make sure you understand and agree to the terms.

6. Keep making payments.

 If you have any payments due during the interim between your old loan and your new loan, still make the payment. If there are any funds left on your old loan after your new lender pays it off, your old lender is legally obligated to return that money to you. 

7. Credit is a factor, but not the only factor. 

Many customers believe that if they have great credit, that they’ll be automatically approved for a new auto loan. However, that’s not necessarily true. Though credit is an important consideration, lenders mostly care about things like DTI (debt-to-income ratio) and LTV (loan-to-value ratio). DTI is essentially the lender’s assessment of risk in your ability to afford the auto loan payments. LTV is your lender’s determination about how much you owe on your previous loan versus how much your car is worth. Put another way, it indicates your proximity to being upside down on your loan.

8. Select automatic payments. 

Many lenders offer perks for customers who select automatic payments on their new loans. Some perks include lower auto loan rates, which can save some people hundreds of dollars over the life of their loan.