Posts Tagged 'finance'

Save (virtually) nothing with Bank of America’s auto loan

Susan Tompor had a great article in the Detroit Free Press about banks getting back into the auto lending business. She noted that Bank of America was offering a stellar-sounding rate on vehicles:

Bank of America has a low rate of 2.89% in Michigan on new car loans of up to 60 months. The loan has a $200 fee and the borrower must have excellent credit.

Now, that 2.89% “low” rate does sound great. But how does the math work?

Here’s an example. Let’s say we take a plain old car loan, with no money down and no trade-in, for $20,000. Pay Bank of America’s $200 fee and the rate, and you end up with a monthly payment of $383.38. In the end, you’ll pay $21,400 for that new car when the loan is paid off (we’re using our handy auto loan calculator for these numbers).

Now, take that same $20,000 auto loan to American 1, where you pay no fees but you pay a slightly higher interest rate of 3.49% at our low end. That leads to a montly payment of $385.57 – two whole dollars more expensive than BoA’s payment. In the end? You’ll pay $21,200 for that vehicle, which is exactly $200 – or the cost of that BoA fee – less in total.

Isn’t that something?

Tompor quotes a BoA representative who sounds giddy to get back into auto lending:

Doug Melton, direct-to-consumer underwriting manager for Bank of America, said the bank is optimistic about car lending in 2011 and is aiming to offer competitive rates for loans on new and used vehicles and lease buyouts.

“There are a lot of great customers out there looking for new cars, used cars and looking for financing,” he said.

“Competitive” being the operative word. The most you’ll save is $2 a month, no matter how competitive that rate looks compared with ours or anyone else’s.

Isn’t it better to do business with a local institution who charges no fees and is a phone call away when you need service?

Rebate 2010: birthday present

Cindy Grymko took the rebate

Last year, Cindy Grymko was thinking about her upcoming 50th birthday, and thought a new car would be a great gift.

So she got one. A beefed-up Chrysler 300C, complete with a Hemi motor and “all the horns and whistles,” she says.

“This is an upgrade model,” Cindy says. “I thought, ‘What do I need a Hemi for?’”

Cindy financed her car with Chrysler, but before she made her first payment an American 1 employee at our former Argyle Branch told her about the 50% loan rebate in April. She hadn’t had the car a month yet, but figured, “why not?”

“I told them, ‘Sure, sounds good. What do I have to do?’” Cindy says.

Initially, she had no idea how much she would get back for her interest rebate. She figured maybe $400 or $500, tops, for the interest she was paying on her souped-up Chrysler.

But when the rebate deposit hit her account, she saw the rebate gave her more than double what she thought.

“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s cool,’” Cindy says. “It’s helped me stay afloat, with the economy and helping the kids.”

Cindy was off work due to knee surgery, and was afraid she might be late on a payment – which would mean she would forfeit the rebate. But she found a way, and ended up being one of the top five rebate recipients last year.

“I would tell anyone to do it,” she says. “It’s like a tax refund, but it helps build your credit.”

Learn more about our 2010 rebate.

Good advice: open your statements

A bit of good financial advice from Trent over at the Simple Dollar:

Second, read all of your notices. Even though I’m supposedly on the “paperless” plan for several of my bills, I still receive oodles of statements and messages from these companies. Most of them are completely unimportant to me…

After a while, it’s very easy to become numb to all of it. Don’t. Open every one, read it over, and handle it appropriately. Yes, most of them will go in the trash can. Yes, you’ll often feel like you just wasted fifteen minutes of your life.

But for every fifty useless missives that you read, one will be very important.

We can stress strongly enough how important it is to at least look over your statements.

Sure, if you’re a customer at a bank, you probably get gobs and gobs of mail from them every month. Us? We send minimal mail. And you could get even less if you sign up for e-statements.

But even e-statements are important. You may have important noticed posted to your account under the e-statement system, so make sure you check it at least once a month.

American 1 auto loan experts: here’s the proof

We pride ourselves on being “auto loan experts.” Chances are, if you need a used car, we can get you financed and into a vehicle.

But how can we prove that? Where’s the evidence of our expertise?

It’s provided by the National Credit Union Administration, the FDIC of the credit union world. If you take a look at our 5300 report (an overall report showing how many members we have, how many loans, etc.), you’ll find we have 7,215 used vehicles on our books. We have a few hundred new cars, but we specialize in used auto financing. It’s what we do best.

Now, how many auto loans do all the other credit unions in Jackson County have? Just about that many: 7,187. But that’s combined. Add them up, and all the other credit unions in town have a total of 7,187 used auto loans. We have 7,215.

So if you have an auto loan financed through a credit union in Jackson County, chances are 50% that it’s at American 1 or some other credit union. We have half of all the used auto loans in Jackson County.

Pretty cool, huh?

Some of the other credit unions have mortgages on their books, or they specialize in new vehicle financing. For American 1, though, we’re all about used cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs.

Now we have the numbers to prove it.

Haggling helps save money

Amy Reiter at Salon.com shares her experiences learning how to haggle – the resurfaced art of dickering for a better deal.

After a few financial setbacks, Reiter started to look for ways to save money around the house:

And so, a few months back, I got on the horn to the cable company and sheepishly asked if there was a way to lower my monthly payments without sacrificing the children’s TV programming on which my early-morning sleep depends: To my surprise, the customer-service representative instantly slashed my monthly bill in half by cutting some feature I didn’t even know I had. Emboldened, I dialed up the New York Times, my long-distance phone carrier and anyone else I could think of, whittling down my standing monthly charges until they were as slim as a post-NutriSystem Marie Osmond, or — more aptly — as slim as my wallet these days.

The key, say the experts Reiter talks to, is practice. Haggle often enough, and you get comfortable at it.

Any creative ways to earn extra cash?

The Five Cent Nickel blog has posted “36 ways to earn extra money,” with tips like the usual “sell stuff around the house,” and “get a second job.” But how about “renting ad space on your car?” Or “make and sell crafts?”

Economic times like these call for the creative solutions – what’s one creative way you’re earning extra money?

Credit union bailout? Not so fast.

Two recent articles – one at the Washington Post and another at the Wall Street Journal – leave the impression that credit unions are receiving a bailout from the government, like banks and insurance companies.

But things aren’t always as they seem, and credit unions are not receiving a bailout. In fact, credit unions are doing much better than banks.

The two stories focus on an institution that services credit unions, U.S. Central Corporate Federal Credit Union, an institution that handles financing and transactions for a big group of credit unions. U.S. Central doesn’t service members, like you or your neighbor. It services other credit unions. Think of it as a credit union for credit unions.

But the way the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post make it sound (with headlines like “U.S. Aid Goes to Credit Unions”), the entire CU industry is in need of a handout. And that’s just not true.

What happened was U.S. Central took a group of credit unions’ money and invested it those mortgage-backed securities we keep hearing about. When those investments went sour, U.S. Central asked for a $1 billion loan (not bailout) from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) – the same government agency that insures your deposits at American 1. This isn’t Congress handing money to a financial institution that made bad decisions – as has happened a lot since September. Instead, it’s credit unions stepping in and helping out one of their own institutions.

Does this affect you or your membership at American 1? Not at all. American 1 is doing well financially. In fact, we trust our deposits with the Federal Reserve because of its reliability.

While newspapers seek to build up interest in stories by writing provacative headlines, the WSJ and Post went a bit too far with their misleading headlines.


Chrysler added to ‘Invest in America’ program

Good news – Chrysler is joining GM in the “Invest in America” program that offers Midwestern credit unions discounts on new vehicle purchases. American 1 members can use “Credit Union Member Cash” to purchase a discounted Chrysler or Dodge vehicle, says LoveMyCreditUnion.org:

All eligible current and new credit union members in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee can receive up to $1,000 in bonus cash incentives, depending on which model you choose. Plus, the Credit Union Member Cash program can be combined with most current incentives to add to your savings!

The discounts extend through June 30, 2009. Since you have to get financed through a local credit union, you can get pre-approved before you head out to shop.

Head to LoveMyCreditUnion.org for more details.

Fall sale starts tomorrow.



Tomorrow our Fall Used Vehicle Sale kicks off at Sears. These sales are big events for us, and no one does a car sale like American 1.

To prepare, we’ve kicked off our Simple Loan plan. Plus we’re having two chances to win a $500 gas card, for up to $1,000 in gas. Who can’t use that these days?

A few things to keep in mind if you’re heading to the sale:

  • Get pre-approved – it saves a bunch of time when you’re ready to finance
  • Test drive it – just to make sure you like it
  • Trade-ins are welcome – so bring what you have
  • Even if you’re not “in the market,” stop by the sale – we’ve got tons of food and prize giveaways
  • Warm up your hands – you’ll need them for our famous Cash Vault (we bought a new one!)
  • Bring the whole family – we’ll keep the kids entertained
  • Complete your Simple Loan plan – and watch how easy the sale goes when you get there

We’ll see you Friday and Saturday at the sale!

Introducing a better way: Simple Loan



American 1 is changing the way we do lending.

Imagine picking out a vehicle on a dealership lot anywhere in the country, giving us a call, and driving away in your vehicle – all without stepping foot into an American 1 branch. That’s the idea behind Simple Loan, an exciting new plan to simplify the loan process.

Simple Loan lets you sign one set of loan documents up front, establishing your preferences (we call it “the plan”), and – from then on – closing on a loan without having to work around our branch hours. All the hard work – the papers, the transfers, the payment – is done behind the scenes by us. In fact, once you’ve established your plan, your biggest responsibility will be picking out the vehicle you like.

Simple Loan works like this: you come into a branch and sign some papers. These papers tell us what your lending preferences are, updates your personal information, and lays the groundwork for any loans in the future. Then, when you want to finance a used vehicle or want an American 1 Visa card, you simply give us a call. We verify your plan, check to make sure the application information is correct, work to get it approved, and arrange payment with the dealership (for a vehicle) or send your new Visa card in the mail. Those documents you signed at the beginning make all this convenience possible.

Right now, American 1 is the only credit union in the area that does Simple Loan, or anything like it. But it’s not a new idea. In fact, we’ve taken the best practices of other credit unions – ideas that have worked before – and developed Simple Loan to fit your needs.

The up-front paperwork process, from start to finish, might take a half hour. But from then on, we take care of all the lending details. You tell us what kind of loan you need, and we do all the paperwork behind the scenes.

There are a few exceptions. If you’re buying a vehicle from a private individual, and not a dealer, there is some title work to be done. Refinances are also an example of when you may need to sign some papers. But even in situations where we need your signature, we can get it over the fax machine.

This is an easier way to get a loan. And it works for vehicle loans, signature loans, and Visa cards. Instead of doing a bunch of different paperwork for all those kinds of loans, though, you’ll sign one set of documents. That’s all there is to it.

For the upcoming Fall Used Vehicle Sale, we want as many members signed up for Simple Loan as possible. For one, it will make our car sales much more efficient. The up-front paperwork takes less time than sitting down and financing a vehicle used to take. Second, we’ll have a special station set up at the sale just for Simple Loan members – meaning you’ll be in and out and driving away in minutes.

To help kick off the plan, our branches are staying open later so you can establish your plan. Stop in on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday until 7 p.m. at any American 1 location to get started. That way, you can stop in after work if you’re pressed for time.

And please call us (888.213.2848) with any questions you have. We’re really excited about Simple Loan and how much easier it’s going to make closing a loan for our members.


American 1 Federal Credit Union