10 Best Values in Used Cars

Good news for used-car buyers: Desirable trade-ins and vehicles at the end of their lease, especially luxury models — are streaming onto the used-car market, and that means more choices at lower prices.

Ten vehicles were chosen between three and four years old that not only were tops in Kiplinger’s rankings for performance, value, and safety when they were new – but also get good marks for reliability.

These vehicles have automatic transmissions, unless noted otherwise, and all have standard stability control and front, front-side and head-protecting airbags. Dealer, private-party and certified prices are averages based on actual transactions reported by Kelley Blue Book for previously owned vehicles with 12,000 miles per year. Check them out!

  • 2011 Honda Civic
  • 2011 Toyota Prius
  • 2010 Subaru Legacy
  • 2011 Toyota Camry
  • 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan
  • 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander
  • 2010 Lexus RX 350
  • 2010 Mazda CX-9
  • 2011 Acura MDX
  • 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe

Click here to learn more about each of these top 10 pre-owned vehicles.

If you’re in the market for a new or used vehicle, stop by First Financial and apply for an Auto Loan with us! We have the same great low rates whether you plan on purchasing a new or used vehicle. To apply, click here for our online application or stop into any branch location. PLUS, when you’re approved for a new Auto Loan of at least $15k you’ll receive a $100 Visa Gift Card for gas and an auto emergency kit!* Click here to learn more about other great rewards and benefits you could earn as a member of First Financial.

*Subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain an auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. $100 Visa gift card and free auto gift will be issued upon loan closing. Refinances will have the option to receive the Visa gift card or participate in the 2% Challenge promotion. Cannot be combined with any other offers.

Article courtesy of Kiplinger by Jessica L. Anderson.

The True Cost of Your RV

Question: We’d like to get an RV instead of going on vacation this summer. It’s always been a dream of ours. In addition to the cost of purchasing the RV, what hidden expenses should I expect once we own it?

Answer: Buying or renting an RV can be an enjoyable way to travel and see the country from sea to shining sea without checking into a motel room even once. But before you make that decision, take into account these hidden and additional costs:

Fuel. Plan on about 8 to 15 miles per gallon. If your water and sewage tanks are fully loaded, you’ll spend more on fuel. If you travel light, you can get better mileage. But in the middle of that range, it’s still going to cost about 38 to 40 cents per mile in fuel costs alone, assuming diesel prices of $3.50 per gallon. Some areas have higher fuel costs than others.

Also, not only will driving use up gas, but your generator will also consume fuel if you aren’t plugged into the grid. If you’re using an electric heater or the air conditioning while you are stationary, or if you enjoy hot water, you will have to run your generator. The more you use it, the higher the costs will be. Some may use propane rather than electricity, but propane isn’t free either.

RV Park Fees. Lots of people use the free parking in Walmart parking lots, but if you want to stay at an RV park, plan on spending between $30 and $50 per night. This is usually a little less than you’d pay for a budget hotel, but be prepared to pay it pretty often. RV folks tend to be out on longer trips than non-RV people, who may only pay for a hotel for a few days or a week. You can usually get a discount from RV parks if you pay by the month.

Insurance. Because there are a number of specialized underwriting factors, see if you can find an insurance carrier or agency that specializes in RVs. For example, a typical auto policy has very limited benefits for replacing lost, stolen or destroyed personal belongings in a car. You will need higher limits for an RV than for a standard truck or sedan. You will also need specialized ‘full-timer’ insurance for when your RV is stationary. This coverage provides similar protection to homeowners’ insurance. But if you still have an unwheeled residence, you’ll also need to maintain home coverage on it.

Note: In most cases, you need insurance even if your RV is a trailer. Ask your agent about “trailer insurance.”

Maintenance. Save early and save often for maintenance issues. Towing costs alone will be significant if you do have a breakdown. It takes a heavier duty tow truck to haul an RV – and it may have to be hauled a long way to find a mechanic capable of fixing it! Maintenance costs are all over the map, but can easily run thousands of dollars. New tires alone cost $300 each (roughly $1,200 to change them all).

Once you’re aware of these factors and feel, as many people do, that the benefits and savings far outweigh the costs, start shopping for your RV. First Financial can help you purchase an RV with our RV loan program. We have great low rates plus:

  • Financing on your new or used RV up to 120 months
  • Up to 110% financing
  • Loan Payment Protection
  • Easy online application

Click here to learn more and to apply today!

*A First Financial membership is required to obtain an RV loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.

This article is courtesy of CUContent.

When’s the Best Time to Buy a Car?

Happy woman buying a carIt’s a good time to be in the market for a new car – especially if you plan to finance the purchase, as nine out of 10 Americans do. Buyers with good credit can take advantage of some very low interest rates.

Rates for new and used car loans are at “their lowest point in the past few years,” according to a new survey of 157 lenders by the website WalletHub. The average interest rate for new-car loans is currently 4.29 percent and 4.96 percent for used cars.

WalletHub found that car loans at credit unions are 25 percent below average, national banks are roughly average, and regional banks are 40 percent above average.

Jack Gillis, author of The Car Book 2015, cautions buyers that the financing arranged through a dealer may be higher than what’s offered from the manufacturer.

“Often the low interest rates advertised by dealers require extraordinarily high credit ratings and sometimes are accompanied by extra fees,” Gillis told NBC News. “Before you talk financing with the dealer, check with your credit union and banks to see what they offer. It’s the only way to know if the dealers’ financing is a good deal.”

Good credit is a real money saver

WalletHub reports that it will cost you about four-and-a-half times more to finance a car if you have fair credit rather than excellent credit. That translates into additional interest costs of about $5,500 for a five-year, $20,000 loan.

Someone with excellent credit can also get extremely low rates for used car loans now. The average rate for these loans dropped nearly 18 percent from last year, WalletHub reports.

“So a few months before you go shopping for a car, check your credit report,” WalletHub’s Jill Gonzales said. ”Make sure everything is in order and there are no errors that could affect your credit score and drive up that interest rate.”

Car loans are also getting longer

As car prices have gone up, car loans have gotten longer. The average car loan in the U.S. is now 67.2 months – a record high and the average price paid for a new vehicle last year was $32,386, reports Edmunds.com.

“A longer loan will lower the monthly payment, but you will be ‘upside down’ in that loan longer,” noted Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education at Credit.com. “So if you need to sell the car or something happens to it – maybe it’s totaled in an accident – you could owe more than it’s worth.”

A longer loan also drives up the cost of financing that vehicle because you’re borrowing the money longer. The experts at Consumer Reports Autos point out that extended loans also tend to have higher interest rates. Their advice: limit your loan to about 48 months.

First Financial has great low Auto Loan rates – and they’re the same whether you plan to purchase a new or used vehicle!  You can view our current rates by clicking here, and if you like what you see – you can apply right online 24/7.  If you need a handy tool to help you figure out those monthly auto loan payments to see what you can afford before you buy, try our free loan calculator application called AutoCalcubot. We also provide a free auto buying and research tool, AutoSMART – a great place to find new and used vehicles!

Article Source: Herb Weisbaum – NBC Contributor, http://www.today.com/money/whens-best-time-buy-car-right-now-survey-shows-2D80507620

 

 

 

Will Paying Off My Car Loan Help My Credit Score?

Credit-Score-325x222There are a lot of different kinds of credit out there. One of the most common forms is the auto loan. Though we are all itching to pay off our long-term debts and own something free and clear, there are a few precautions to know about before racing to get that statement to read zero.

To determine if paying off your car loan will help your credit score, it is important to understand several factors that go into your credit score.

Multiple facets of FICO

First, it’s important to understand the components that make up your FICO credit score. There are five key elements that are used to makeup that all-important number:

  • 35% of your score is weighted toward your payment history
  • 30% is weighted toward the amounts owed on your credit cards
  • 15% is devoted to length of credit history
  • 10% is generated by new credit
  • 10% comes from types of credit used.

The relative importance of each category depends on the consumer themselves.

If you have an auto loan that you’ve been diligent about paying, you’ve benefitted from that 35% devoted to payment history. By paying it down, you are also contributing to that 30% element of amount owed, since theoretically you are decreasing your credit utilization rate. However, if you’ve been increasing the balance on other forms of credit, that may cancel out some of that good behavior.

If you have a 3 to 5 year car loan, you also have length of credit history going for you. The new credit category doesn’t really apply in this scenario.

Did you know First Financial’s Identity Theft Protection program not only protects you and your family members from ID Theft, but it also monitors its users’ credit reports? When you enroll in ID Theft Protection with First Financial, your credit report is monitored continuously for new or suspicious activity. If new activity occurs, an alert is sent via email and text message, allowing you to confirm whether or not the activity is fraudulent. To enroll in our ID Theft Protection services, stop into any First Financial branch or call 866.750.0100.*

Types of Credit

But what’s interesting is the 10% weighted to types of credit used. On a positive note, a car loan alters the types of credit you have, assuming you have things like credit cards or even a mortgage.  However, if you pay it off, you may eliminate this type of installment loan as a type of credit used (this is a very different type of credit than a credit card).

Your ability to pay installment accounts, in addition to others, demonstrates that you are responsible and diligent enough to plan your finances around all these different types of credit.

The Biggest Factor

Weighing against all this, however, is a large factor that requires you to look more holistically at your credit lifestyle. A general rule of thumb is that if you can pay off a debt of any kind, in full, do so (with the exception of a mortgage).

If you have a great deal of debt, we also have a free, anonymous online debt management tool called Debt in Focus. In just minutes, you will receive a thorough analysis of your financial situation, including powerful tips by leading financial experts to help you control your debt, build a budget, and start living the life you want to live.

*Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. 

Article courtesy of Nerd Wallet Online

5 Most Common Car Problems – CU Auto Club Roadside Assistance Can Help

roadsideassistIf you’re like most people, you probably take your car for granted. We know you love your car, but it’s easy to overlook its aches and pains until it’s too late. That’s why we’re listing the five most common things that can go wrong with your car. We also have some tips to help you take better care of your “baby” before it needs fixing.

Top 5 Car Problems

1. Battery
Extreme temperatures, hot and cold, could shorten a battery’s lifespan. Also, if you tend to drive short journeys each day, you could lose voltage. Be sure to take a longer trip now and then. A bad alternator, corroded terminals or loose connections could also cause problems.

2. Tires
Although many tire issues can be easily prevented, tires account for 10% of all emergency roadside calls. Be sure to check your tires’ tread and pressure frequently.

3. Check Engine Light
This one little light is intended to alert you to one of hundreds of potential problems. It could just mean it’s time for your checkup or you have a loose gas cap. Or, it could be something more serious like your emissions system, catalytic converter, fuel injection or spark plugs.

4. Overheating
An overheated car isn’t limited to the warmer months and could be a sign that something major is wrong with your car. The main causes of an overheated engine are a stuck thermostat, a leak in your cooling system, a faulty water pump, a bad cooling fan or a clogged radiator.

5. Accidents
It seems like an obvious culprit, but it’s also one of the most easily avoided problems. Stay out of the fast lane, avoid tailgating, keep your eyes on the road – not your phone, be vigilant of blind spots and do what your driving instructor said by keeping your hands at the 9:00 and 3:00 positions on the wheel.

Play It Safe
Having a dependable roadside assistance program will give you peace of mind and help keep you on the road. As a credit union member you can save money while getting excellent service from Credit Union Auto Club.

Credit union members can enroll in Credit Union Auto Club, one of Love My Credit Union’s discount programs, which provides credit union members across the country with a wide range of roadside assistance services and other benefits at a significant savings compared to competing auto club plans. Click here to learn more and to sign-up today! For other exclusive benefits for members, check out the Love My Credit Union site for details on how you can save on vehicles, online shopping, DIRECTV, Sprint wireless services, tax products, and more. 

*Article source provided by Love My Credit Union’s Credit Union Auto Club.

Common Auto Loan Financing Misconceptions

AutoLoans“Don’t believe everything you hear.” How many times have you heard this when you were a kid? Well, everyone grows up and it’s time to actually listen to that little old saying, especially when it comes to buying a vehicle. There are tons of common myths and misconceptions out there, but what is the truth behind these myths? Find out the true answers to some of the most common car buying myths right here:

Myth #1  Auto dealers will always have the best loan rate & payment.

This isn’t always necessarily true. Credit unions and other financial institutions also offer competitive rates compared to dealerships. Those who are looking into buying a car should shop around and not only compare rates, but also compare restrictions, to find the best deal that fits their wants and needs.

Myth #2 Seeking multiple pre-approvals/loan offers will destroy your credit rating.

An individual’s credit score will not be affected negatively if seeking multiple offers. The analysis will have to be made within a certain time period of 14 days. However, keep in mind while shopping around this may cause multiple creditors to request a consumer’s credit report.

Myth #3  Auto loan refinancing is expensive.

It’s actually the opposite. Refinancing can drastically reduce your monthly payments and is an option you should consider. Have you stopped into your local First Financial branch location to see how much we may be able to save you each month by refinancing your car loan? Or give us a call at 866.750.0100, Option 4.

Myth #4 Refinancing isn’t an option on an auto loan.

Most people know that refinancing an auto loan can provide the same benefits as refinancing a home loan. They both can save you a lot of money by lowering the monthly payment or interest rate. Many may not know that refinancing an auto loan is actually much easier than refinancing a home loan. You might want to consider refinancing if your current car loan interest rate is above 6 percent, doing so could save you hundreds of dollars each year if you are approved!

Myth #5 Consumers think that even though Credit Unions have better rates – that you have to have perfect credit to get them, or be part of a union or work at a certain company to get them.

You do have to be a member of a Credit Union to get the Credit Union’s rates, and the rate you qualify for is based on your credit worthiness. However, most people do not realize just how easy it is to join a Credit Union these days, and that Credit Unions will at least try to work with you and help you get on the right track to a better financial standing if you aren’t currently. The majority of Credit Unions how have community charters – where you simply need to live, work, worship, or attend school in a certain area in order to become a member of that particular Credit Union. That’s certainly the case at First Financial – to join $5 in a Base Savings Account is needed at all times, and you must live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties in New Jersey. Plus, once you are a member – your immediate family can join too!

Here at First Financial, Enterprise Car Sales and First Financial are able to offer First Financial Members monthly deals on used vehicle purchases through Enterprise. Get started by getting preapproved by First Financial and search for certified used cars online with Enterprise Car Sales. 

As always, First Financial offers great low rates – and they’re the same whether you plan to purchase a new or used vehicle!  If you need a handy tool to help you figure out those monthly auto loan payments to see what you can afford before you buy, try our free loan calculator application called AutoCalcubot. We also provide a free auto buying and research tool, AutoSMART – a great place to find new and used vehicles!

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