How to Get the Best Deal When Buying a Car

Buying a car is one of the largest purchases people make – just behind buying a house.

It’s no wonder most people dread buying a new or used car. It is a stressful and expensive experience that most new buyers feel underqualified to take on.

That’s why we’re here to help. Here are some of the top do’s and don’ts for getting the best deal on your vehicle purchase:

DO: Make a Budget in Advance

It can be easy to be persuaded into a car that is beyond your means when you begin looking at vehicles. Knowing your budget in advance will ensure that you won’t later regret purchasing a car above what you should be spending.

DON’T: Make Your Decision Based on the Monthly Payments

When you are looking at identical monthly payments on two car options, it’s not difficult to be talked into a nicer car. However, if one car loan life is 5 years and the other is 10 years, the total cost of the car can look very different. When budgeting, plan for the total cost of the car and not just the monthly loan payments. This will give you a more realistic picture of what you are willing to spend over the car’s lifespan.

DO: Car Research Ahead of Time

New or used? Car or SUV? Ford or Chevy? 4WD or AWD? These are just a few examples of questions you should consider before you visit the dealership. Knowing what you are looking for before receiving help from salespeople will make you more confident in your choices and avoid being persuaded into cars that don’t fit your needs.

DON’T: Forget about Insurance Costs

When you’re considering your monthly price, it is easy to forget that you will also have to make monthly insurance payments in addition to any maintenance costs, repairs, and purchasing fuel. Make sure that you are comfortable with the monthly price once you factor in these costs, which can add up quickly.

DO: Take Your Time on the Test Drive

Don’t feel pressured into making an immediate decision: this is a huge purchase. Take whatever time you need during the test drive to ensure that this vehicle meets all your needs. Test how the controls operate. Do you feel comfortable when you’re driving? How does it feel in the passenger seats? Do you have enough space for hauling in the back? Take a look through everything you can so that you are confident when you make your purchase.

DON’T: Visit One Dealership

You wouldn’t visit one house and immediately buy; the same principle applies to cars. One dealership may be overcharging based on the model and conditions of the car compared to another dealer. Even if you fall in love with the first vehicle you see, take a quick look at another dealer to make sure you are not overpaying.

DO: Think About the Longevity of the Car

You will likely be paying off the loan on this car for over five years. Is this a car that you will still like in five years? Does it suit the needs you will have five years from now? You can always sell the car back before then, but make sure you consider how long you anticipate having this car when you are factoring your spending means and the type of car you want.


The process of buying a car is never easy, so let us help make it better. TopLine Federal Credit Union offers car loans with flexible terms, competitive rates, and a variety of repayment options. We also offer auto insurance to protect your vehicle and the costs associated with it. We are happy to work with you to finance the vehicle that will get you where you need to go.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help.


TopLine Federal Credit Union: Here for Your Investment Needs

Many people don’t realize the importance of investment planning to save money for your future and provide for your family. Put the work in now to plan and save for a better future.

Investment planning is one of our specialties at TopLine Federal Credit Union. Our helpful financial advisors are able to help you create a plan for your future and keep track of it. There are three primary aspects of life where investment planning is key – whether you work with a financial advisor or not:

College Planning

When it comes to planning for a college fund, there are three things to remember: start early, pick a balanced low-cost portfolio of stocks and bonds, and aim to spend it down sensibly over time.

You have 30-40 years to plan for retirement, while most people only have 18-20 years to plan for a college fund, and through much of that time, your parents are making plans for you. There are ways that you can be extremely strategic and smart when it comes to planning like taking advantage of tax breaks and knowing when it’s the right time to be aggressive and when it’s the right time to scale back. Such planning can be difficult alone, which is where a TopLine financial advisor can help you maximize your potential.


Estate Planning

Estate planning is very important. Unexpected things can happen and, especially if you are a parent of little ones, outlining what happens to your estate and your children is crucial, otherwise, the government will decide. Simply put: if you want your estate and loved ones are taken care of once you can no longer do it, you should create an estate plan.

Retirement Planning

Now more than ever, it’s important to take your retirement fund and planning into your own hands. The population is aging, which means more and more people depend on the social security system, while fewer and fewer contribute to it. Additionally, as we age there tends to be an increased risk for large unplanned medical bills. Let one of our financial advisors assist you with planning for your retirement will help you ensure that you’re able to save for retirement, no matter your income.


Top Recreational Vehicle Destinations in Minnesota

‘Tis the season to buy yourself the gift you actually wanted: a recreational vehicle.

These “Big Toys” are the perfect way to ring in spring. Begin planning your fair-weather recreational vehicle getaway now. Whether you’re looking to hit the trails on an ATV or ride the waves on a new jet ski, here are some of the top Minnesota destinations to max out the fun with your new toy.

Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area in Gilbert

Shred your way through Superior National Forest’s tough terrain trails on your new four-wheeler. The Iron Range boasts some of the nation’s best routes and offers many trail options for the beginner and experienced rider.

Burntside Lake in Ely

7,314 acres of crystal blue waters await boaters in Burntside Lake. The nine-mile lake is a haven for a variety of wildlife, sporting a large population of trout and walleye and one of the largest populations of loons in the state. The waters are not all tame, though. The lake has no motor restrictions, making it a popular destination for boaters, water skiers, and various other boating activities.

Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain

A great outdoor experience is only 30 minutes away from Minneapolis in Baker Park Reserve. Make it a comfortable weekend getaway at their convenient campsites. The park offers a range of exciting activities for any camper including hiking, golfing, horseback riding, mountain biking, paddling, and nearly any other activity you could imagine.

Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway

In the heart of the state lies this 54-mile scenic route that takes motorcyclists past unique historic sites, and natural landscapes. There are also several recreation opportunities along the route including biking, hiking, golf, and boating. There are also many amazing restaurants and tourism stops along the way. This drive is sure to be a great scenic drive for bikers.

Lake Minnetonka in Minnetrista

Thrill-seekers will surely find exciting aquatic adventures jet skiing on Lake Minnetonka. The lake spans 14,000 acres and has plentiful islands and bays to be discovered. It’s a popular spot in the summer, but the density of boats and jet skis makes plenty of large waves to ride


Upcoming Minnesota Recreational Vehicle Shows

Many central Minnesota recreational vehicle shows are coming up, making it the perfect time to buy your new vehicle. Take a look at the upcoming show lineup:

While you’re preparing to buy your new vehicle, consider loans and insurance that will help keep your fun new vehicle from becoming a financial drain. TopLine offers fast and easy financing for loans on any of the ‘big toys’ listed above. Visit our website to learn more about the benefits of our loan programs, including flexible repayment plans and more.

We also offer insurance plans on your recreational vehicles. Call 763-391-0007, email or stop by any of our branch locations for your personalized free, no obligation, coverage comparison.


How to Prevent Identity Theft

December is Identity Theft Awareness and Prevention month.

Identity theft is cited by the FTC as the number one consumer fraud in the US. During the holiday seasons, when your bank accounts are more active, it is especially important to be aware of how you can prevent identity theft and what to do if your information is compromised.

Here are some preventative tips to help keep you safe:

1. Avoid Disclosing Personal Information Over the Phone

Unless you initiated the call, do not disclose any information that may put you at risk for identity theft, including your card information, social security number, or bank account information. If a caller from an institution that you know asks for this information, offer to call them back to give the information or deliver it in person.

2. Keep Your Social Security Number Safe

Knowledge of your social security number is a green light for hackers attempting to commit identity fraud. It is a crucial piece of information for you to keep safe. Memorize your number and leave any records of your social security number locked away in a safe place. Only give out your social security number when it is necessary and be sure to ask the institution you are giving it to about their privacy policy.

3. Analyze Your Bank Statement and Bills Each Month

Monitoring your statements each month will make fraudulent charges stick out quickly. Smart hackers will try to camouflage fraudulent actions so that they don’t stand out on your statements. Keeping a record of your transactions will allow you to sort out any fraudulent charges.

4. Pay Your Bills Online

Change your bill settings to stop receiving bills by mail and instead pay your bills online over a secure internet connection.

5. Shred Any Documents that Reveal Personal Information

A general rule of thumb is that when you are done with a document: shred it. All TopLine Credit Union Locations offer free Shred-It™ services where you can bring your past bills, receipts, financial statements and more to have them securely shredded and tossed.  

6. Keep Your Passwords and PIN Codes Secure

Do not use personal information such as birthdays for passwords or PIN codes; these are easily breached. Instead, choose more complicated passwords and record them in safe places, such as a document stored locally on your computer. As an additional security measure, try to change out your passwords after about three months.


These are only a few of the preventative measures that can reduce your risk of identity theft. But what can you do if you become a victim of identity theft?

  1. Contact the Police Immediately to File a Report
  2. Visit
    This FTC site will help you report the theft, assist you in filing an affidavit that will ensure you are not responsible for fraudulent charges, and develop an action plan for how to navigate through the recovery process. If you prefer to contact the FTC by phone, you can dial 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338).
  3. Contact Your Financial Institutions to Alert them of the Fraud
  4. Contact Credit Agencies to Protect Your Credit
    You can put a temporary freeze on your credit report so that no one can run your credit without you first being notified. Contact all three credit agencies to set that up:

As December is Identity Theft Awareness and Prevention month, swing by any TopLine location during the month of December to pick up your free Identity Theft Handbook. This handbook will help you understand how identity theft occurs, what steps you can take to protect your personal information, and what to do if it happens to you.

For more information, visit our Financial Education page.


TopLine’s Holiday Toy Drive is on Now!

TopLine Federal Credit Union members are a community, and every holiday season we come together to support those in need. For the 19th year in a row, we will be collecting toys for children, as a small way of supporting those less fortunate.

We encourage all of our members to participate and help make this holiday a special one! Stop by any TopLine location through December 23, 2017, and place a new, unwrapped gift under the tree. Then take an ornament from the tree as a thank you, from our family to yours.

All unwrapped toys will be donated to Keystone Community Services, Community Emergency Assistance Programs (CEAP), and Toys for Tots. These three organizations operate in our local Twin Cities community to distribute toys to children during the holidays.

Wondering What to Donate?

Toys and gifts are distributed to kids of all ages, from birth to teens, so please consider all ages when donating! Shop for any kind of fun items, from blocks and dolls for small children to puzzles, Legos and vehicles for school-age children, to makeup, sports equipment, and gift cards for teenagers. Toys for Tots also uses monetary donations to shop for those age groups that don’t receive a lot of donated items; namely teenagers.

About the Community Non-profit Organizations

Keystone Community Services’ mission is to strengthen individuals and families and to improve their way of life by supplying the resources and skills they need to live with hope and dignity. Toys for Tots helps millions of less fortunate children experience the joy of the Holidays, giving them a message of hope that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.

CEAP’s mission is to help families in all life stages gain financial stability and maximize their ability to live independently and with dignity, through services like Food Support, Transportation Solutions, Meals for Minds, Food Shelves, and Thrift Stores.

We look forward to a very successful 2017 Holiday Toy Drive. Thank you in advance to all of our generous members for your donations!

Celebrating International Credit Union Day at TopLine

Over 217 million people worldwide choose credit unions as their financial institutions. Our “people first” philosophy compels us to improve the lives of our members and our communities.

So what’s the difference between credit unions and other financial institutions? The main difference, credit unions exist to help people, not to make a profit. In 1935 TopLine was established as a member-owned financial services cooperative. That means that we are a banking institution that’s safe, local and, most importantly, owned and democratically controlled by you, our members-owners, with all deposits federally insured to at least $250,000.

Our profits are returned to you, which means TopLine can offer our members a safe place to save money and access affordable loans, fewer and lower fees, dedication to the highest levels of personalized service and complimentary financial education workshops. Your best interest is in our best interest.

All across the globe, credit unions and their members are celebrating! Come help us celebrate this philosophy with International Credit Union Day. Swing by any TopLine Federal Credit Union Location October 16th – 21st for treats and giveaways.

This year’s theme, Dreams Thrive Here,” celebrates how credit unions help people achieve their financial goals, like purchasing a home and funding an education.

At TopLine, we pride ourselves on assisting members on their entire financial journey, whether that includes opening their first checking and savings account, buying a new car, purchasing or remodeling a home, running a small business, investing for retirement, or providing expert advice and financial education workshops, and we’re always in search of new ways to better serve our members and local communities.


We look forward to celebrating with you, the credit union difference and the many benefits that our proud cooperative heritage brings.



Why It’s Important to Review Your Home And Auto Insurance Annually

We have all seen the big insurance companies’ televisions ads that say you could save hundreds if you switch insurance. It can be easy to disregard but reviewing your insurance policies annually to ensure you are getting the best price and coverage really can save you hundreds.

It is not just about the annual premium, having the correct coverage can protect you from big bills after an accident or weather event. Here are two great reasons to shop around each year before your policy renews.


Complete Coverage

There are a lot of options when it comes to coverage options, especially for auto insurance on your car. Read this great infographic for a breakdown of car insurance. You might be driving an old car and decide to upgrade, suddenly going from a liability only policy to one that includes comprehensive and collision. You could be living in an area where hurricanes do not exist and then move to Florida, adding flood insurance to your homeowner’s policy. As life develops, your coverage needs to adjust. It is easy to overlook coverage changes and developing needs, and checking into your policies annually can help you fill any gaps.


Comparing Costs

One way to lower your annual premium is by adjusting your deductible. Most home insurance quotes assume a standard $1000 deductible. However, if you are a good saver and always have a healthy savings, you can increase your deductible to $2500 or $5000 to get a better premium. Consider bundling your auto and home insurance, paying your premium all at once, or switching companies to save money. TopLine Federal Credit Union can help you compare insurance companies with ease. We compare up to 20 different insurance companies and give you the lowest quote for the coverage you need.


If you are not sure what month your insurance policy renews, that is a sign you need to review the terms. Now is a great time to look into it as September is National Insurance Awareness Month. Are you aware of the coverage and costs you have?

Interested in seeing if you can save money on your insurance? Call 763-391-0007, email or stop by any of our branch locations for your personalized, free, no obligation coverage comparison today!

$10,000 in Scholarships are Available to TopLine Members!

Did you know that TopLine Credit Union Foundation will be awarding $10,000 in scholarship money to TopLine members who are continuing their education? The scholarships include four $1,000 scholarships and twelve $500 scholarships. Applications must be received by August 31st to be considered.

Any individual planning on pursuing post secondary education by attending a college or university, graduate school, or a 2 to 4-year community, vocational or technical college in the fall of 2017 is eligible. All eligible schools must be accredited by the U. S. Department of Education.

Those interested need to complete a one-page application form and submit an essay (500 words or less) that responds to the statement: “You selected TopLine as your financial partner; discuss how your credit union can continue to help you along your financial journey.”


TopLine Credit Union Foundation

TopLine Credit Union Foundation, established in 2015, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Guided by its mission of “Working within the Community to Build a Better Tomorrow,” the foundation supports community outreach activities by awarding scholarships, contributing to community charitable organizations, providing financial education and counseling for members of all ages, and sponsoring other charitable efforts.

To make a donation or to learn more about TopLine Credit Union Foundation, visit, call 763-391-9494 or email


Good luck to all of our scholarship applicants!

Why You Should Use Your Credit Card When You’re on Vacation

Summer vacations may have you traveling a lot. Whether you are headed to your cabin or on a cross-country road trip, it is important to think about protecting yourself while spending on vacation. Here are the reasons using your credit card to make purchases when you are out of town is the best way to keep your money safe.

Credit Card Protection

The protection your credit card provides when spending away from home is unparalleled. While you might be inclined to reach for your trusty debit card, a credit card is the wiser choice. By law, your credit card must protect you from fraudulent charges, capping your liability at only $50. Your credit card might also offer purchase protection, extended warranties on purchases (up to two extra years), reimbursement for theft of your purchase, or purchase cost refunds if you cannot return products to the merchant. You would be amazed by all the things your credit card protects you from that you never knew about!

Theft and Fraudulent Charges

TopLine Platinum Credit Cards offer some of the best theft protection out there with Visa’s Zero Liability Program. Experiencing theft on your debit card can be a disastrous ordeal. The thief can wipe out your savings, leaving you with no money to pay bills until your dispute for the fraudulent charges clears and your bank gives you the money back. With a credit card, you are covered. There is no requirement for how quickly you dispute the fraudulent charge and there is no liability beyond $50. The microchip in our Platinum Credit Cards is the most secure way to pay. Each time your card is used to pay for something, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be reused, allowing for better protection from fraud.


When traveling on summer vacation, it is always wise to use your credit card as it offers protection on your purchase and fraudulent charges. You never know when your card information might be stolen, so it is best to avoid using your debit card while out of town. Learn more about our TopLine credit cards here!


National Internet Safety Month: How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

June is National Internet Safety Month and we at Topline Federal Credit Union know quite a bit about internet security. We want to keep not just your financial information safe, we also want to keep your kids safe when surfing online. To honor National Internet Safety Month, here are some tips for keeping your kids safe online.

Protect Private Information

It is important to outline information that is personal and private so that your kids know not to share it. Here are four things your child should know when it comes to protecting privacy, courtesy of

  • Never give your name, phone number, email address, password, postal address, school, or picture without parental permission
  • Do not open email from people you do not know
  • Do not respond to hurtful or disturbing messages
  • Do not get together with anyone you “meet” online

Utilize Software and Settings

There are ways to control the settings of your browser as well as block sites using your IP address. Putting a block on sites that contain lewd content is a good idea because you never know when your child can stumble upon something here for more information on settings for your browser, IP address, and security software.

Be Involved and Aware

As a parent, it is important to regularly monitor the websites your children are visiting online. Before the age of 8, you should co-pilot any computer time and have a set list of websites your kid is allowed to go to. After the age of 8, regular check-ins are still necessary. An easy way to do this is to have your computer in a central location in your home. A desk near the kitchen is a good spot for your child to surf the web because you will be able to keep an eye on them occasionally.

Tips for Adults

It is just important for adults to protect their personal information as it is to protect their kids. Take precautions like changing your passwords often and keeping them safe. An obvious one is to avoid unknown emails and don’t share your personal information with anyone. For more information on staying safe online, visit


There are many ways you can work towards keeping your kids safe online. Browsing the internet can be very fun and informational, but it can also be dangerous. We want your child to be safe, not just for National Internet Safety Month, but every month!