7 Car Loan Stages and 7 Reasons Why Dane County Credit Union Is the Perfect Auto Loan Partner

A reliable car is an important part of modern life. From work and school to medical appointments and shopping, a car offers a greater quality of life and freedom of movement. Purchasing a car can be expensive, however, with most people taking out loans from financial institutions. At Dane County Credit Union (DCCU), we offer competitive car loans to the residents of Madison, WI, and surrounding counties. Whether you want a brand-new car loan or a refinanced loan agreement, we are here to help.

If you’re thinking about taking out a car loan, it’s important to consider your options. Most car loans take a few years to pay back, so it’s important to get clear advice and make smart decisions from the outset. While repayments and interest charges are an unavoidable part of life, lending agreements can differ widely between providers. From interest rates and deposits to loan terms and conditions, DCCU offers accessible and affordable car loans to people from all walks of life.

7 stages to getting a new car loan

Before you get a car loan, it’s important to understand the steps involved. This process doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are some essential steps that need to be taken. Let’s review these steps in detail and show you why DCCU is the perfect partner for your next car loan.

1. Review vehicles and finances

Before you get a new car loan, it’s essential to review your financial situation. While you don’t need all the details during this early stage, you should have a basic idea of how much you can afford. Whether you’re buying your first car, upgrading a family car, or buying your dream car, the overall cost of the vehicle needs to align with your income and liability limits. Everyone has different financial resources and obligations, and a detailed review is needed for each person based on their stage of life.

When reviewing your finances, it’s important to consider your existing income and debts in relation to the cost of potential vehicles. What kind of car do you want? What kind of car can you afford? What is the difference, and how are you prepared to compromise? While this fact often gets ignored, it’s also important to think about the desired length of your loan. While everyone wants to buy the car of their dreams, you should be aiming to purchase a good car that you can afford for the entire term of the loan.

2. Check your credit score

Wherever you live in the United States, your ability to borrow money is based on your credit score. This number is reviewed by lenders during the loan application to check whether or not you’re a good candidate. There are three consumer credit reporting bureaus operating in America, with each one providing information used in the generation of your score. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion provide the data. Another organization, Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), has developed a proprietary algorithm that measures this data and scores borrowers numerically from 300 to 850.

Credit scores include the following categories:

  • 781-850: Super prime
  • 661-780: Prime
  • 601-660: Near prime
  • 500-600: Subprime
  • 300-499: Deep subprime

 

Credit scores are pretty easy to understand. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be approved for a car loan. It’s not just approval, however, with higher scores sometimes leading to lower interest rates and better lending conditions. When analyzing your credit score, the credit bureaus look at your outstanding debt, payment history, length of credit history, account age, and types of credit used. DCCU proudly works with the entire community, with our car loans available to people with healthy credit or compromised credit scores.

3. Estimate your repayments

Once you have a basic idea of what you want and what lenders are looking for, it’s important to dig down into the details. In order to estimate your ongoing costs, you need to have the purchase price, the intended loan term, and the interest rate available to you, among other variables. Loan repayments and potential savings can be calculated fairly easily with the following information:

  • Vehicle purchase price
  • Car loan amount
  • Initial deposit or trade-in amount
  • Loan term
  • Interest rate
  • Balloon repayment
  • Repayment frequency

All lenders use this data to identify good opportunities, and you can use it also to estimate your costs. There are many car loan calculators available on the internet, but the best advice is to speak directly with lenders. While the value of the car, the amount of the deposit, and the intended loan term may stay constant between providers, interest rates and loan conditions can vary widely.

4. Compare potential lenders

Once you have calculated monthly repayments, it’s fairly easy to compare loans based on costs alone. Comparing repayment amounts is not enough in isolation, however, with other factors also relevant to your decision. For example, some lenders have more stringent lending criteria, and they may not be open to people with low credit scores. Other lenders may have lots of additional costs, hidden fees and charges, or fixed loan terms that lack flexibility over time.

It’s also important to note the difference between loans and lenders. Comparing dry data and isolated car loans is not the same as comparing financial institutions, with some lenders offering a very different quality of service. At DCCU, we operate an inclusive lending service that caters to a diverse range of people from broad socioeconomic backgrounds. We offer competitive interest rates, flexible lending conditions, simple refinance loans, and friendly customer service from a team that really cares.

5. Obtain pre-qualification

Before you start shopping for a new car or applying for a loan, pre-qualification is advised. This process offers theoretical loan approval and a working loan sum limit. In order to become pre-qualified, the lender will look at your credit score, your financial information, and the type and cost of the vehicle. While pre-qualification is not a guarantee of approval, it provides you with a rough idea of what you can achieve.

 

With car loan pre-approval from DCCU, you’ll know exactly how much you have to spend before you go car shopping. Not only will this help you to avoid making poor decisions, but it can also be a great bargaining tool at the dealership. There is little downside to pre-approval, with this process treated as a soft inquiry that does not impact your credit score. While pre-approval does not require comprehensive paperwork, it is a good excuse to get your documents in order early in the process.

6. Balance short-term and long-term gains

Before you make a final decision about your car loan, it’s important to think long and hard about all the financial implications. As one of your biggest assets and most significant ongoing expenses, your car loan is likely to represent a major factor in your monthly budget. The key to making good borrowing decisions is to be aware of the trade-off between short-term gains with long-term financial health.

The following factors need to be considered with every loan:

  • Interest rates: This is the cost of borrowing money, with lower rates associated with lower interest payments over time. There are two basic rate structures: fixed interest rates and variable interest rates. Most car loans are fixed, which means the rate amount is locked in for the term of the loan.
  • Loan term: This is the agreed time period needed to pay back the loan. The loan term is dependent on the purchase price of the car, the deposit amount, the interest rate, and the repayment amount. The shorter the term of the loan, the less money is paid back in interest. The longer the term of the loan, the smaller your repayments will be.
  • Loan fees: Additional costs may include repayment penalties, late payment penalties, application fees, and annual fees. If you are refinancing an existing loan, there may also be a designated refinance fee. Some car loan fees are hidden in the fine print, so you should always do your homework.
  • Loan conditions: Along with interest rates, the loan term, and the lending fees and costs, there may be other conditions associated with a car loan. Examples vary widely between loans, and they may include things like balloon payments, personal guarantees, and co-signer agreements.

Once you understand the basic components of a car loan, you can find a loan that meets your immediate and long-term needs. As mentioned, there is often a pay-off between short-term gains and long-term pain. For example, if you want to improve your weekly cash flow by lowering your monthly repayments, you will lengthen your loan term and end up paying more in interest payments over time. The opposite situation also exists, with shorter loan spans leading to more expensive monthly repayments.

7. Apply for a new car loan

When you’re ready to apply for a car loan, it’s best to be prepared. You will need documents to prove your identification, social security number, personal address, proof of income, and auto insurance. In addition, tax documents, payslips, income statements, and bank transaction details can also play a role. If you are applying for a refinanced loan, detailed information on the car and current loan agreement will also be required, including the vehicle identification number and current loan balance.

7 Reasons Why DCCU Is the Perfect Car Loan Partner

At DCCU, we make it easy to apply for a new car loan. We offer friendly, honest advice during the application process and reliable customer support throughout the loan period. A credit union car loan offers numerous advantages over a bank loan, including better rates, improved conditions, and community-based support. If you’re looking for the best place to get a car loan, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are seven reasons why Dane County Credit Union is the perfect car loan partner:

  1. Friendly, honest advice: We love helping local people find valuable financial solutions. We offer car loans at great rates, including low credit score options and competitive refinancing opportunities.
  2. Save money every month: Credit union car loan rates are highly competitive, especially for people with a low deposit or compromised credit score. When you pay less in interest, you save lots of money over the term of your loan.

  1. Tailored and flexible loan terms: Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, we offer tailored loan terms based on your financial situation. You can change your term over time as your financial situation changes.
  2. Extended warranty protection: Our lending process helps you secure your vehicle with an extended warranty. If you want extra protection and reliable customer support, DCCU is a good place to get a car loan.
  3. Up to 100% finance: We try to make the car loan process as simple as possible. You don’t even need to save for a deposit, with our car loans providing up to 100% finance in many situations.
  4. Vehicle refinance loans: If you have an existing car loan and want to make changes, we are here to help. Car loan refinancing can be a great way to access better interest rates and improved loan conditions.
  5. Owned and operated by the community: As a member-owned financial institution, we are not driven by greed or profit. At DCCU, our services are based around your needs.

About DCCU

At DCCU, we offer car loans and other financial services to the residents of Madison, WI and surrounding counties. We are committed to improving the economic and social well-being of our members, and we are happy to help people from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. We are proud to provide low and moderate-income members with car loan opportunities. Having a reliable car is an essential aspect of modern life, with our financial products helping people just like you to access a better quality of life.

At DCCU, our member-owned financial cooperative helps “build lifetime relationships through personalized financial service.” As a not-for-profit credit union owned and operated by its members, we are here for you. If you would like to refinance your car loan or learn more about our services, please contact DCCU today.

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DCCU Car Loan Refinance Calculator: See What You Can Save

Your car plays a huge role in your survival. It gets you to work, takes you to the doctor, and influences the quality of your daily life. Cars are expensive assets, with most private vehicles purchased with loan agreements from banks and other financial institutions. While paying off your car loan is an unavoidable part of life, interest rates, loan terms, and loan conditions can often be altered in your favor by refinancing your car loan.

If your financial situation has changed for any reason or you want to put more money in your pocket, you may wish to take out a new car loan. As one of your most persistent financial obligations, you can save lots of money by changing lenders or adjusting the details of your loan agreement. When you act smart, a car is more than a form of transportation – it is a significant and reliable asset that can be leveraged to your advantage.

There are many good reasons to refinance your car loan, with each person needing to review their own finances and lifestyle options. Perhaps your income has grown? Maybe your credit has improved over time? Perhaps the economy has shifted and you’re paying more than you need to? Regardless of the reasons, car loan refinancing is about accessing better terms and saving money for your future.

Let’s take a detailed look at auto loan refinancing so you can calculate a better deal for you and your family.

What is car loan refinancing?

Changing your car loan may seem complicated, but it’s really quite simple. When you refinance an existing car loan, you are exiting your current loan and taking on a new loan under changed conditions. The outstanding loan amount is carried over to the new loan, but the repayment terms, loan conditions, and interest rate may be entirely different.

There are two basic ways to refinance a car loan, either with your existing lender or through a new provider:

  • If you have a good repayment history, more savings, or an improved credit score, you may be able to negotiate a lower interest rate on your car loan with your existing lender.
  • If your current lender is not meeting your needs, you can research new lenders and compare your options. Perhaps you can find a better interest rate or improved loan conditions with another lender.

Why should I refinance my auto loan?

Most people who refinance a car loan do it to save money. Potential savings are not always clear cut, however, with savings always based on a specific time period. For example, you may wish to save money on your monthly repayments, which could end up costing you more in the long run. The opposite situation also exists, with shorter loan terms and reduced long-term interest often leading to more expensive monthly repayments.

While there are countless reasons to refinance a car loan, the vast majority of cases fit into one of the following two categories:

1. Your finances have improved

If your financial situation has improved, you may want to refinance your car loan. Examples include a better credit score, new employment, or more savings. In this situation, refinancing your car loan can help you to get a better interest rate, an improved loan term, or more favorable lending conditions. For example, you may be able to remove the original co-signer from your existing loan.

2. Your finances are challenging

If you’re struggling to pay your living expenses or monthly bills due to high loan repayments, it may be time to make a change. In this situation, refinancing your car loan can give you access to lower monthly repayments. While you will end up paying more over time, sometimes you need to focus on the present. In this situation, refinancing can be a good way to consolidate your debt or improve your cash flow.

The pros and cons of car loan refinancing

There are a number of potential pros and cons associated with car loan refinancing. These factors are not set in stone, however, with each person needing to analyze their own financial resources and lifestyle situation in order to make the right moves.

Let’s look at the positive reasons for car loan refinancing, along with the reasons why you should hold off and think again:

When should you refinance your car?

There are many great reasons for refinancing your car loan, but it’s important to be careful. Generally speaking, refinancing is a good move if your financial situation has improved and you’re looking for better lending conditions.

Potential pros of refinancing a car loan:

  • You may be able to negotiate a lower interest rate.
  • You may need to secure lower monthly repayments.
  • You may be able to reduce costs and fees.
  • You may want to remove a co-signer from the loan.

When should you hold off on refinancing?

While refinancing your car loan can help to lessen your financial burden, it’s not always advisable when analyzed on a long-term basis. Generally speaking, refinancing is a bad move if your financial situation is challenging and there are other options available to you.

Potential cons of refinancing a car loan:

  • You may end up paying more interest over time.
  • You may end up extending the term of your loan.
  • You may need to pay an exit fee or other costs.
  • You may get a better interest rate but less flexible conditions.

How to calculate your car loan options

Before you can calculate your savings through refinancing, it’s important to understand exactly what’s on the table. While borrowing arrangements can seem complex, all loans function in much the same way regardless of what they’re for.

The following factors are central to every lending agreement:

Interest rates

Every commercial loan has an associated interest rate. This is the cost of borrowing money, and it has a huge influence on the amount of money you end up paying for your car. Your annual percentage rate (APR) is the total cost of repaying the loan over the course of a year. Along with the interest rate amount, it’s important to have a basic understanding of interest rate structures.

There are two basic rate structures: fixed interest rates and variable interest rates. Most car loans are fixed, which means the rate amount is locked in for the term of the loan. In contrast, variable rates go up and down depending on the lender, the loan arrangement, and the wider economic conditions. This can be good or bad, but it is always inconsistent.

Loan term

In the most basic sense, the term of a loan is the agreed time period taken to repay the loan amount. For car loans, this is widely dependent on the original value of the car, the amount of the initial deposit, the interest rate, and the repayment amount. The loan term is directly related to both the interest payments and the repayment amount. The shorter the term of the loan, the less money is paid in interest.

Loan repayment periods can be broken down into an amortization schedule. Understanding this schedule is a great way to analyze your loan and work out how much interest you will end up paying. If you want to improve your cash flow by lowering your monthly repayments, you will lengthen your loan term and end up paying more in interest payments over time.

Loan fees

Car loans can differ widely when it comes to lending costs and fees. There are lots of things to look out for, including origination fees, repayment penalties, late payment penalties, application fees, and annual fees. Many car loans will also have a designated refinance fee, which is the price you pay for setting up a new lending agreement.

On the other side of the coin, some financial institutions offer a cashback scheme for people who refinance from another lender. While this can seem enticing, it should never be the only reason that you change lenders. Each of these fees will be included in your loan agreement, but sometimes they are hidden in the fine print.

Loan conditions

Along with the interest rate amount, the interest rate structure, the loan term, and the lending fees and costs, there may be other conditions associated with a car loan. These conditions can vary widely between products and lenders, so it’s important to do your homework.

One example of a potential loan condition is known as a balloon payment. This is a one-off payment that is due at the end of the loan period. Other examples include the provision of a personal guarantee and the inclusion of a co-signer. Along with saving money, removing the original co-signer is a popular reason for car loan refinancing.

How to calculate potential savings

Once you have a sound understanding of the basic factors that influence car loans, it’s fairly easy to calculate loan repayments and potential savings. While it might seem complex, all lenders use the same basic financial information to identify good opportunities. There are many car loan calculators available on the internet, all of which require the following information to estimate monthly repayments.

  • Vehicle purchase price
  • Car loan amount
  • Initial deposit or trade-in amount
  • Loan term
  • Interest rate
  • Balloon repayment
  • Repayment frequency

If you have this information at hand, it’s easy to estimate repayment amounts and compare car loans. While the value of the car, deposit amount, and intended loan term are likely to stay constant between providers, the available interest rate can vary widely.

Steps to refinance

Once you have analyzed the pros and cons and calculated your potential savings, you can move ahead with the next stage of car loan refinancing. Online calculators are useful during the research and comparison phase. However, it’s important to contact lenders directly to review potential savings and lock in favorable terms.

The following steps should be taken in the lead-up to every refinancing deal:

  1. Get current on your existing car loan.
  2. Review your outstanding debt amount.
  3. Compare potential lenders.
  4. Obtain pre-approval before car shopping.
  5. Balance short-term and long-term gains.
  6. Apply for a new car loan.

Why DCCU?

If you’re looking for an easy way to refinance your car loan, DCCU is here to help. We offer fair and competitive lending alternatives to the major banks. We are 100% committed to improving the economic and social well-being of our members, so you can rely on honest advice and transparent costs with every single loan. We are proud to help people from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, including low and moderate-income members.

DCCU is owned by our members, with our financial cooperative dedicated to “building lifetime relationships through personalized financial service.” When you choose DCCU, you will benefit from flexible loan terms, low interest rates, and accessible financing up to 100% of the car’s value. Our values are strong, and our message is clear: We are “a local neighborhood Madison credit union that stands for you.”

Along with great deals, we believe in reliable extras and friendly customer support. We offer a number of easy add-ons for car loans, including extended warranty protection and loan pre-approval. When you’ve been approved for a specific amount, you can go car shopping with confidence knowing how much you can borrow. Pre-approval can be a great bargaining tool at the dealership, with price certainty leading to better decision-making and more competitive deals.

If you’re looking to refinance an existing loan from another provider, please give us a call to find out more. If you’ve already refinanced your vehicle somewhere else, it’s not too late to save money by switching to DCCU. We may be able to lower your monthly repayment, reduce your interest rate, or alter the length of your loan based on your personal requirements.

At DCCU, we proudly offer a range of lending services across Madison and surrounding counties. As a not-for-profit credit union owned and operated by our members, we are always willing to lend a helping hand. If you would like to refinance your car loan or learn more about our services, please contact DCCU today.

 

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How To Choose The Right Personal Credit Card

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Take time to find the right credit card.

As the famous saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

This timeless piece of advice can be applied to many different things, but few more fitting than the mighty credit card. Yes, while all Madison credit unions offer credit cards that give members a chance to earn rewards points on the things they buy, make emergency purchases, and simply treat themselves every once in a while, they can also open the door to a load of financial troubles. Continue reading How To Choose The Right Personal Credit Card

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My Plan of Action – Eric’s Car Buying Adventure Pt 2

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Eric makes a good plan to buy a new car.

Alright, now that the dust has settled from my accident, I’m well aware of my situation. The confusion and frustration have subsided and it’s time to put together a plan of action. Some people think car shopping sounds fun. I am not one of these people. Continue reading My Plan of Action – Eric’s Car Buying Adventure Pt 2

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Great Graduation Gifts with a Twist of Smart Financial Guidance

Smart Graduate Gifts from a Madison Credit Union
Smart Graduation Gifts

If you have a newly minted college graduate in your life, chances are you’re brainstorming ideas for the perfect gift. It’s easy to focus on something for the new apartment or new job, but first let’s consider some smart financial guidance and options. Continue reading Great Graduation Gifts with a Twist of Smart Financial Guidance

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6 Reasons to Choose a Madison Credit Union Over a Bank

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Choose a Credit Union in Madison

Setting your financial house in order? It’s worth the time to review your financial institution and see how it compares against Dane County Credit Union. Taking the time to see all options available can net you serious savings. DCCU is giving big banks some stiff competition in financial products, money management options and superior member service.

Continue reading 6 Reasons to Choose a Madison Credit Union Over a Bank

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