Auto Buying: Auto Loan and Car Insurance Tips

One of the most exciting purchases can also bring loads of uncertainty. Buying a car, whether new or used, is a big step that can either be a financial burden or a manageable expense. TopLine Federal Credit Union is here to help you with tips on the finer points of auto loans and auto insurance so you can get on the road in your new vehicle.

Auto Loans: What to Know and How to Prepare

  1. Determine Your Budget

You should only take on new debt when your monthly spending is less than your monthly income. A new loan shouldn’t take away from your plans to save or from your existing commitments. If your monthly cushion allows for a certain amount to go to your car payment each month, work backward from that to determine your target budget for your vehicle.

Not sure what your monthly finances will allow? Use one of these monthly budget calculators from TopLine to find your numbers fast.

When calculating your overall budget, keep in mind that your monthly payment will be determined by a) vehicle price, including any added warranties, b) down payment, c) term of the loan, and d) APR (annual percentage rate). The larger the down payment, the smaller the loan, which will give you more flexibility and a more comfortable monthly payment.

  1. Check your Credit Report

The terms of your loan will be influenced by your credit score, so it may be a good idea to check your credit report for any discrepancies you might need to dispute. You can get a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com or visit TopLine’s “Get Your Credit Report” website page for more details on both credit reports and scores.

  1. Direct Lending vs. Dealership Financing

You have several choices when it comes to your auto loan. Dealership financing makes use of the dealership’s relationships with financial institutions. Direct lending involves getting your loan directly from your bank or credit union. Before you step foot on the lot, it’s a good idea to gather the information on the loans available to you from reputable places like TopLine Federal Credit Union; being armed with that knowledge will help you decide the best course for you.

  1. Shop Around

If you’re in the market for a new or used car, TopLine is committed to helping you get the best deal in town. As a member-owner, you have exclusive access to our free car buying services with our partner, Minnesota Dealer Direct, a Minneapolis-St. Paul-based firm to ensure you get the savings you deserve without all the hassles. This is free service for TopLine members.  For more information on Minnesota Dealer Direct please call 612-227-9190 or 612-226-8921.

Auto Insurance: What to Know Before You Sign

  1. Shop Around Again

Auto insurance is one of the top-advertised industries out there, so the competition is fierce. At TopLine, we work to save our members money every day, in every way we can with auto insurance. Through TopLine Insurance Agency, we offer auto loan policies from a number of well-known insurance carriers like Encompass, Met Life, Progressive, Safeco, Travelers – up to 20 different insurance carriers in all to assure you get the right policy to fit your individual needs and at the best price. Contact TopLine Insurance Agency at 763-391-0007, email Quote@TopLinecu.com or stop by any of our branch locations to your personalized free, no obligation, coverage comparison today!

  1. Ask questions and Find the Right Coverage

Your insurance costs will be determined by factors like the car you’re driving, your age, credit rating, home address, and driving record. Long commutes and living or working in an area with a high rate of break-ins or vehicle thefts can increase your rate.

There are several types of car insurance coverage options; contact TopLine Insurance Agency at 763-391-0007, email Quote@TopLinecu.com or stop by any of our branch locations to your personalized free, no obligation, coverage comparison today!  It’s a good idea to have a grasp of the options that you want to be included in your coverage and to speak frankly with an agent about your needs.

  1. Read the Fine Print

We’d hate to see you come this far only to have your contract let you down. Read all parts of the contract, and don’t just skim it. If you have questions about wording, ask! Make sure all of the coverage you’re opting into is listed out. Conversely, if you see something you didn’t agree to, ask about it. The car buying process is both thrilling and complicated. Our job at TopLine is to make it less

daunting and to lead you to the right solutions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for questions or assistance with auto loans, car buying services, or auto insurance. Give us a call 763-391-9494, email Ask@TopLinecu.com or stop by any of our 5 Twin Cities metro locations. It’s always good to have all your questions answered before you buy your shiny new wheels!

Celebrating International Credit Union Month at TopLine

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International Credit Union Day is celebrated annually on the third Tuesday in October. This year, the event lands on October 20 and TopLine is excited to celebrate that day and the month as International Credit Union month.

This year’s credit union theme is “The Authentic Difference,” which celebrates the features that make credit unions unique from other financial institutions. ICU day is an important day worldwide because it gives recognition to the work of credit unions and celebrates the many benefits of them.

Credit unions differ from other financial institutions when it comes to the structure and principals of them. Unlike banks, credit unions are member-owned and are not for profit.

At TopLine, our profits are returned to our members, which allows us to give our members a better value on their investment. Furthermore, we are able to offer competitive rates to our members with little to no fees. At TopLine we have a strong community focus and are committed to putting our members’ needs first.

Credit union principles can change people’s lives — for more than 150 years credit unions have proudly put people and community first in order to provide access to affordable financial services to all of their members. TopLine is certainly no different.
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We want to celebrate this exciting day with our members and the community by hosting an open house at all of our TopLine branches on October 20 to thank our members and celebrate ICU day with free refreshments and giveaways!

Since International Credit Union Day is so important to us, we decided that we would celebrate this day throughout the whole month of October!

We want to express our gratitude to our members and embrace the characteristics that make TopLine unique from other financial institutions. Stop into one of our branches to celebrate ICU day with us and let us help you with all of your financial needs.

TopLine Federal Credit Union, a Twin Cities-based credit union, is Minnesota’s 13th-largest, with assets of more than $350 million. Established in 1935, the not-for-profit cooperative offers a complete line of financial services, as well as auto and home insurance, from its five branch locations — in Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove, Plymouth and in St. Paul’s Como Park — as well as by phone, mobile app and online at TopLinecu.com. Membership is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school or volunteers in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott or Washington Counties and their immediate family members.

 

The Benefits of Improving Your Credit

Having good credit is essential to a healthy financial well-being. This is due mostly to the fact that obtaining loans is a necessary part of life, and the availability of these loans is based on having a good credit score. Having a good score will help you buy a car, purchase a home, get lower interest rates – even obtain certain jobs.

Building Your Credit

So, how do you build good credit? If you don’t have credit, one of the easiest ways to start is to open a credit card. Search around and find one that doesn’t have a service fee and has a lower APR. At TopLine, we not only offer credit cards with tons of features, but they also come with many perks! Both the Platinum and Platinum Rewards VISA cards are loaded with benefits:

  • Screenshot (301)Low variable APR based on your credit history
  • No annual fees
  • No over-the-limit fee
  • Free eStatements
  • Free online account access
  • Automatic payment options
  • Cash Advances
  • VISA’s Zero Liability Program
  • Worldwide travel and emergency assistance
  • Free auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Warranty Manager Service

Calculating Your Credit Score

If you already have credit, it is important to know where you stand. Before you request copies of your credit report, make sure you know how your FICO Score is calculated. That will help you understand how to read your reports and what each score means. Here is a breakdown of the ranges of credit and what they mean:

  • Excellent Credit: 750 +
  • Good Credit: 700-749
  • Fair Credit: 650-699
  • Poor Credit: 600-649
  • Bad Credit: Below 600

The steps to find your credit score are as follows:

  1. Obtain a credit report – you are able to have one free copy per year. Make sure that you get a credit report from each of the credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
  2. Compare and contrast the reports to find any discrepancies.
  3. If you find some that are inaccurate, be sure to dispute them right away. The longer they remain on your credit report, the more they bring down your score.

Improving Your Credit

Whether your credit report looks to be in good shape or needs improvement, it is important to consistently stay on top of it. The two easiest ways to do that is to reduce the amount of debt you owe as fast as you can and to set up payment reminders so that you don’t default. One of the fastest ways to pay off debt is to use the Debt Snowball Method. People have paid off tens of thousands of dollars in the matter of a few years with this strategy. You can also check out consolidation options to make payments easier and to lower interest rates. At TopLine, we offer personal loans as a form of debt consolidation.

Extra tips for how to improve your credit can be found here.

There are many benefits of having a good credit score – it simply makes life easier. You will see the benefits of lower interest rates and more financial opportunities open up for you like never before – good credit opens doors. Don’t go another day not knowing where you stand or having a bad creditor further lower your score.

Financing A New Vehicle With TopLine Federal Credit Union

 

S (1)Looking to get a new vehicle? Is your old one just about to kick the bucket? Lucky for you, spring is right around the corner and with that auto sales are on the horizon.

Along with our stunningly low rates, we also offer a number of other incredible services that include:

At TopLine, we want to make it easy for you to get the best deal without the stress or pressure of purchasing a new or new-to-you car. So before you come in, here are three simple steps to make this process quick and easy.

Check your credit report
Request your credit report from one of the three credit bureau reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.Equifax Credit Information Services: 1-800-685-1111

For more information about credit reports, see:

Tip: This is a really good time to correct any inaccuracies that may have been reported those reports of . This can save you from losing a lot of money in the future and further damaging your credit score.

Shop around for the best rate
Make sure you are getting the best rate for you and your budget. Eight out of 10 car buyers finance at the dealership, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending. Though this option may seem more convenient, it may come at a cost and a higher rate. Contact TopLine at 763-391-9494 to get pre-approved or apply online.

Tip: “Credit union rates tend to be about 1-1.5% lower than banks,” Jim Hanson, vice president at the Credit Union National Association in Madison, Wisconsin.

Choose the shortest loan you can afford
Car prices continue to rise and with that loans have gotten longer. However, the longer term you have on your loan — though it may reduce your monthly payment — the higher your total cost will be when all is said and done. That’s because as each month passes, interest continues to accumulate, which adds up and in the end you could be paying thousands of dollars more than you thought.

To calculate and compare auto loans, click here.

Tip: Know your budget and what you CAN afford before you start the application process.

Bonus Tip 1: Limit your loan shopping to a two-week period
Every time you apply for a loan — whether you are approved or use it — your credit score may decline slightly and each time you re-apply for financing, it gets a little harder to get the best rate you deserve. So make sure you process all your applications within a two-week period to prevent an unnecessary credit score dip.

Bonus Tip 2: You can be pre-approved before you walk on the lot
At TopLine, we work with a number of reputable independent franchised auto dealerships representing all brands throughout the Twin Cities area. With these participating dealerships, you are able to fill out a form that details what type of vehicle you are looking for and the TopLine financing can be done prior to visiting the dealership! This eliminates the hassle and stress of financing at the dealership and waiting for hours for it to finalize, thus making the whole auto purchasing process less time consuming and stress free.

We are here to help you through the auto buying and financing process. We look forward to making it easy for you to purchase, finance or refinance your dream car! Contact us at 763-391-9494 or email Ask@TopLinecu.com.