3 Ways to Supercharge Your Car Buying Savings

Are you missing out on one of the best deals in car buying? With many people opting to continue to stay at home due to COVID-19, many rental company vehicles have been stationary. Why is this important?

Many of these car rental companies are looking to make deals with increasing unused inventory, like Hertz, which recently filed for bankruptcy. If you do decide to buy a former rental vehicle, there are a few things you should do to ensure you’re making a smart purchase.

RESEARCH

Did you know that you could save up to 15 percent more when you purchase a rental vehicle?* While you can save a significant amount by buying a rental car, you should still do your research on price ranges to ensure you’re getting a great deal.

We also recommend researching and checking out the car as you would if you were buying it new. Be sure to consider which vehicle you believe to be the best fit for your lifestyle and determine your budget from there. Remember, you will need to take precautions when purchasing a car from a rental company (as you normally would when looking to buy any vehicle) — even if you’re considering a certified vehicle.

We also recommend checking for any vehicle recalls. If there has been a recall, take the extra step to cross-reference the recall with a vehicle history report — rental car companies have been required to fix these types of issues for at least the past few years.

CONDUCT A PRIVATE INSPECTION

Many rental car companies have a lengthy trial period. Use this time to your benefit and conduct an independent vehicle inspection before you buy. Even certified pre-owned vehicles should be inspected to ensure that your vehicle is safe and that you are making a solid purchase. Along with reviewing recalls and the vehicle history report, this could go a long way in putting your mind at ease when buying a used vehicle from a car rental company.

SECURE YOUR FINANCING

The purchase price of the vehicle is only one step in the process. While rental car companies can save you up to 15 percent off the sticker price when buying one of their vehicles, getting the right financing can significantly boost your savings. When you secure auto loan pre-approval with First Financial FCU, you can ensure you snag an affordable rate and monthly payment.** Check out your options for financing your next vehicle and view our affordable rates on auto loans. You can apply online 24/7 and close electronically too!

*Source: CNN Business

***APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on creditworthiness and term. First Financial FCU maintains the right to not extend credit after you respond if we determine you do not meet our guidelines for creditworthiness. Rates are fixed and will be based on model year of vehicle & term. Current loans financed with First Financial FCU are not eligible for review or refinance. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit

What to Do When Your Vehicle Lease Ends

My car lease is almost up, now what?

This is a common question when nearing the end of an auto lease. In most cases, you have three options:

1. Walk away from the lease.

Walking away from a lease may cost you in disposition or termination fees, mileage charges, and additional costs for wear and tear.

2. Trade the vehicle in.

Most times, you don’t have to trade the vehicle in to the dealership that leased you the vehicle. This may help you avoid those end-of-lease fees that may be associated with walking away from the lease.

3. Purchase the vehicle.

This will also help you sidestep the disposition and other end-of-lease fees. You’ll have the first option to purchase the vehicle. If you don’t purchase it, the dealership gets the next opportunity and the leasing company after that.

First Steps as You Near the End of Your Lease

Before you make a decision, look up the residual value and true value of your vehicle. The residual value is the amount you can purchase the vehicle for at the end of your lease. This number is essentially set in stone.

The next number is the true value. This is what a dealership would intend to pay for your currently leased vehicle. You can choose to research this number through online websites like Kelly Blue Book or NADA, however these platforms will only provide estimates. The official true value can only be found by inquiring what a dealership would pay for your vehicle today.

Should I Buy?

The steps above will indicate two things: What you would have to pay to purchase your vehicle, and what equity your vehicle still has. Once you know these numbers, you can consider whether purchasing the car is right for you.

Purchasing your leased vehicle is a good idea if:

  • Your car has excessive wear and tear. This means when you go to trade in the vehicle or walk away from the lease, you’ll be charged additional fees for fixing any damages. If you purchase the vehicle, you can choose to pay to fix those items when it’s convenient for you and your budget.
  • You’re way over—or under, on mileage. If you’re way over, you’ll owe a hefty charge for trading your car in. If you’re under your allotted miles, you’ll likely have equity in your vehicle’s value versus what you would purchase it for.
  • You love your car! Yes, sometimes the numbers don’t have to match perfectly. You may be exactly at your mileage allotment, and you still want to keep the car you’ve had for the past few years. This might be a great option too, and we’re happy to help you do so (and potentially save some money on monthly car payments) with our Lease Buyout Program.*

Need help deciding which option is best for you? Our Loan Department is happy to talk through your decision with you, and help you get the best possible deal. Get started by calling 732.312.1500, Option 4 or apply for our lease buyout loan online or fill out our quick online inquiry form and a representative will contact you.

For more information, check out our previous blog post: Reasons Buying Out Your Lease Makes Good Financial Sense

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Federally insured by NCUA.

 

Check Yourself Before You Rec Yourself – Tips for RV Purchases

It is fair to say that summer 2020 is also shaping up to be…unconventional. It may seem as though your summer fun is quickly becoming summer none, but a solution may be in reach. Enter: A recreational vehicle. Whether it be a boat, an RV, or even an ATV – summer excitement may just be on the horizon.

How do you decide which one is right for you and your family?  Do you want to take to the road, the water, or forested trails? Here’s a little insight on this thrilling (but important) decision.

RVs

Picture this: You and your family are on the open road. Your destination is ahead of you. Your children laugh as they play a card game at the table behind you. Best of all, you don’t have to stop for bathroom breaks.

A recent study found that RV vacations cost much less than other travel, even when factoring in fuel prices and RV ownership cost. According to the study, there are cost savings of between 21-64% for a four-person travel party, while a two-person travel party may save 8-53%. That’s some serious savings if you do it right. You can instead spend that money on food, experiences, and souvenirs from your trip.

Before purchasing an RV, be sure to do your research. There are multiple packages and floor plans that may not be right for every family. Be sure to shop around to find the RV that fits your needs the best.

Keep in mind that, like all motor vehicles, an RV will also require maintenance and upkeep. This is an expense that must be factored into RV ownership.

Boats

Did you know, Vitamin D deficiency affects 50% of the population worldwide? What’s an excellent source of Vitamin D? Sunlight.

There are many ways to get under the sun, but one of the most fun is boating. Not only that, but taking to the water can be as relaxing or as exhilarating as you want. Gently float along soaking up that Vitamin D, or test your balance on a wakeboard. The possibilities are endless.

2019 saw a 6% increase in the number of people who purchased personal watercrafts, bringing the U.S. total to approximately 73,000 new boats on the water.

The next logical question, “what type of boat is right for me?” There are so many options you can choose from. Do you want a sailboat or one with a motor? If you opt for a motor, what horsepower should you choose? What size boat is perfect for your needs? Will you take your boat to the lake, river, ocean or all of the above? Consider all of these factors before purchasing a boat.

Four-Wheelers (ATVs)

Gritty. Dirty. Fun. Four-Wheelers can be a major source of excitement, but they can also be dangerous if you are not careful. Before purchasing an ATV, be sure to do your research and brush up on ATV safety. There are also other things to consider – like your four-wheeler brand, size, and tire size. Fun fact: At low speeds, a four-wheeler’s wheels move in opposite directions to make parking and maneuvering easier.

What will you do with your Recreational Vehicle Loan?

There are many things to consider when purchasing a recreational vehicle, and we are here to help with one of the most important – financing. We offer recreational vehicle loans that make funding your summer fun (and beyond) more accessible than ever, no matter which type you choose. We’re your credit union, contact us today if you have questions about RV loans – or you can learn more and apply online 24/7!*

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial RV, ATV, Boat or Motorcycle loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Federally insured by NCUA.

What to Know Before You Buy a Car

Have you been considering purchasing a vehicle? Now could be the right time for you to buy, as dealerships and DMVs start to open back up in New Jersey.

Due to declining sales in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, dealerships are most likely highly motivated to sell vehicles right now – but you may not necessarily get the deal that is best for you. Our goal is to encourage you to do your due diligence and buy a vehicle that works for your lifestyle and budget. To help you make a smart decision, we’re providing a few tips to ensure you’re well-informed.

Know you have choices. Due to dealerships looking to make up for lost sales, they’re probably offering flashy, headline-making deals. However, once you take a look under the hood, the deals aren’t always as great as they can seem. For instance, a cash rebate is more likely to be a better deal than 0 percent interest when paired with a low-interest loan that can lower your monthly payment. Therefore, consider taking the rebate and finance or refinance your ride with First Financial!*

Consider your warranty options. When you’re buying a vehicle, whether new or used – dealers will try to sell you or automatically include add-ins like warranties to your loan. When buying a car, think of how long you plan to own it. If you trade or upgrade your vehicle often, you may not need an extended warranty. Typically, new vehicles come with manufacturer warranties that supersede any extended warranties. This means that your extended warranty has no value until the original manufacturer warranty expires.

If you plan on keeping your vehicle for an extended length of time, an extended warranty could be right for you. Compare the costs of the warranties the dealer offers with our Mechanical Repair Coverage options.**

GAP Insurance. GAP stands for Guaranteed Asset Protection. What is GAP insurance? It’s optional car insurance coverage that helps you pay off your auto loan in the event that your car is totaled or stolen, and you owe more than the car’s current value. This helps bridge the “gap” between what you owe and what your insurance is willing to pay. For example, say you owe $25,000 on your car but the actual value is $19,000. If you incur a total loss accident, your insurance will most likely only pay the value amount of $19,000. GAP insurance will pay the other $6,000 so that you are debt-free. Compare the GAP insurance from the dealership with our Loan Payment Protection options.

If you’ve made up your mind to purchase a vehicle, don’t be intimidated by the dealership. Take control of your car buying journey and get pre-approved with First Financial.* Learn more about our current auto loan offerings, or fill out a quick inquiry form online. We can help you compare the numbers and guide you to make the best financial decision for you!

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.

 **Mechanical Repair Coverage is provided and administered by Consumer Program Administrators, Inc. in all states except CA, where coverage is offered as insurance by Virginia Surety Company, Inc., in WA, where coverage is provided by National Product Care Company and administered by Consumer Program Administrators, Inc., in FL, LA and OK, where coverage is provided and administered by Automotive Warranty Services of Florida, Inc. (Florida License #60023 and Oklahoma License #44198051), all located at 175 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago Illinois 60604, 800.752.6265. This coverage is made available to you by CUNA Mutual Insurance Agency, Inc. In CA, where Mechanical Repair Coverage is offered as insurance (form MBIP 08/16), it is underwritten by Virginia Surety Company, Inc. Coverage varies by state. Be sure to read the Vehicle Service Contract or the Insurance Policy, which will explain the exact terms, conditions, and exclusions of this voluntary product. MRC-2341946.1-1218-0121 © CUNA Mutual Group

3 Important Car Buying Tips

Are you looking to buy a new ride before the end of the year?  Here are three important factors to consider before you sign your name on the dotted line.

Needs vs. wants: What do you plan to use your new ride for – commuting, weekend trips? These are just a few questions you should consider.  A smart car might get incredible gas mileage during your long commute, but really lacks in terms of cargo space. You may be able to get a bag of groceries home, but what about that 6-foot ladder you need? Don’t forget about things like Bluetooth connectivity and heated seats also. Weigh all your options before getting too excited about what car looks the coolest.

Monthly payments vs. total price: You love the lower monthly payments, but are you really considering how much a new car is going to cost you by the time you’ve paid it off in six years? Maybe you’re a big fan of the total price you’re getting, but you know the monthly payments are going to take some sacrifice in your budget. Is that something you really want to endure? Have you also factored in other costs like insurance, gas, oil changes, tires, and preventative maintenance? Take your time and make a list so you get a better idea of the true cost of your new vehicle.

Know your car before you buy: Do some research and see how other owners are feeling about their purchase.  Always take a test drive, and try riding through parking lots. How does it ride? Is it only smooth on smooth roads? What’s it like going over a speed bump? When it comes time to buy, it shouldn’t be a mystery and you should feel comfortable with your decision – this is a big purchase you will be using daily over at least the next several years.

In the market for a vehicle? If you’re just starting to shop, get preapproved and if you’re ready to make the purchase – apply for an auto loan online 24/7. We have quick approval decisions and same day closings!

APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

5 Ways to Get a New Car for Less

Premium styling. Flawless paint. Glistening tires. That unmistakable new car smell. Everything about a new vehicle practically begs you to buy it. When you close your eyes and think about driving your brand new set of wheels off the lot, it quickens your pulse a little, doesn’t it? Shopping for your next vehicle is a uniquely exciting experience. Usually until you look at the price tag, that is.

If you haven’t priced cars recently, you may be surprised by the figures you find. According to a recent report by Edmunds, the average loan amount for a new car jumped to more than $32,000, and the average monthly payment rose to $558. Sure, the latest models may be nice, but facts are facts—that’s a lot of money to pay for a car.

Now, before we go any further, if you’ve been saving up for your dream car and figured out how to buy it without demolishing your budget, then by all means – go for it! But if you find yourself in the market for a new vehicle and you want to avoid overspending, we’ve got five tips to help you hang onto more of your hard earned money.

5 Ways to Save Money When Buying a Car

Do your research.

The last thing you want to do is show up to a car lot with no idea what you’re looking for. Lack of preparation puts you at the mercy of the salesperson. And while they may be genuinely nice people, sales professionals make their living by getting you to buy a product at the highest price possible. So, before you head to a dealership, narrow down your choices by doing your research. Thanks to the Internet, companies like NADA, Car and Driver, and CarsDirect can help you sort thousands of options by everything from location to price to trim packages.

Get preapproved. ​​

Once you’ve determined which vehicle fits your preferences and meets your needs, it’s smart to get preapproved for financing. There’s a good chance you’ll find better financing rates through your local credit union than through another lender. Once you’re preapproved, you’ll know how much you can afford, what interest rate you’ll pay, and what your monthly payments will be. This information gives you the upper hand in price negotiations and keeps you from getting distracted by dealer tactics that focus strictly on monthly payments. Preapproval lets you negotiate based on the most important aspect—price.

Shop for incentives.

When sales are lower than expected, automakers will often extend money saving incentives to encourage buyers to purchase their vehicles. This is an instance where the manufacturer’s loss can be your gain. If you’re not already loyal to a particular make or model, you may be able to take advantage of dealer incentives such as discounts, rebates, and lower APR on financing. If you are loyal to a specific type of car, that can work in your favor as well, as some car companies will offer customer loyalty incentives to encourage you to keep driving their cars.

Ask for a lower rate. 

There are plenty of books, websites, and podcasts that offer tips and tricks on negotiating more effectively. While most of their ideas have merit, there’s one suggestion that may seem a little too simple and straightforward—ask for a better deal. In most cases, a dealer or salesperson will start negotiations with an offer that benefits them the most. Asking them to do better is part of the game. To give yourself the best chance of success, be polite and be prepared to walk away. Some dealers will play hardball, but when they have an interested buyer (especially one with preapproved financing), most would rather sell a car for a little less than let it sit on the lot and hope another buyer comes along.

Choose a used car instead.

Maybe this tip isn’t exactly a way to “get a new car for less,” but it is an excellent way to save money on your next vehicle purchase. Since most new cars depreciate an average of 20% in the first year and nearly 50% after five years, buying a preowned vehicle is a smart way to steer clear of that depreciation. It’s also worth mentioning that in addition to their lower upfront prices, used cars usually cost less to insure. Save now. Save later. That’s a pretty convincing sales pitch, isn’t it?

When you’re ready to start shopping for your next car, we’re confident that you can handle the research portion. But when it comes to the financing and preapproval, do yourself a favor and contact us here at First Financial. We may be able to offer you a lower rate and more flexible terms than a traditional bank or lender.* Give us a call today. You’ve got nothing to lose — except months of unnecessary interest payments!

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Not all applicants will qualify, subject to credit approval. Additional terms & conditions may apply. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and term. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a First Financial auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.