Couple with new car

Everyone should feel like they have access to owning a vehicle. Having your own car gives you flexibility and control over how and when you get places, and it provides you with a sense of freedom that you can’t get with public transportation. But not everyone has the funds to purchase a car on their own. That’s where a car loan comes in.

Car loans in Oregon are competitive, but financial institutions are often offering deals and unique rates to make sure a car loan is possible for nearly everybody. Some Oregon credit unions, like Rivermark Community Credit Union, are known for having low rates and excellent customer service. With nearly 70 years of experience offering superior financial services in Oregon, Rivermark has been a popular option for many people looking to get a car loan in our great state.

With a credit union on your side, you could be approved for a car loan pretty quickly. But you’ll still need to know how to get that loan in the first place. There are certain steps you’ll need to take before you’re approved, so we’ve put together this list to make things as easy as possible for you to get started.

Organize Your Credit

Your credit score will be one of the first things that financial institutions look at when you’re applying for a car loan. This number will give lenders an idea of how likely you are to be able to pay back your loan based on how well you’ve paid off previous debts. That’s why it’s important to make your credit score the best it can be before applying.

Though some lenders (like credit unions) are more likely to accept your loan application or work with you despite a lower credit score, giving it a look beforehand is still recommended. By doing that, you might be able to spot something incorrect that’s bringing your score down and take action to fix it. Not only will you want to check for inaccuracies, but you’ll also want to recognize whether any late monthly payments are heavily impacting your score.

If you’re unsure what your credit score is, there are numerous ways to check it. The three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) all offer a free copy of your credit score once annually. Figure out how you can improve your score now, and you’ll be much more likely to be approved for your car loan.

Shop Around

Once your credit score is looking its best, the next step you should take is to shop around for the best loan offer in your area. You shouldn’t just run to the first financial institution you can find when searching for a car loan in Oregon. Each institution will have different offers in terms of interest rates, fees, and terms, and you want to be sure you’re getting the best deal for you.

At Rivermark Community Credit Union, our APRs are some of the lowest in the state. And that’s not all we offer. There are also no application or loan fees at Rivermark, and we also offer 100 percent financing for many new automobiles.

When it comes to getting a car loan in Oregon, you’ll want to weigh your lenders’ options in terms of what you need specifically. Compare APRs, speak to customer service representatives and ask as many questions as you can. You’ll be dealing with that financial institution for years to come, so you’ll want to make sure you feel comfortable and secure in your decision.

Gather Your Paperwork

Once you’ve found the right credit union for you, the next step will be to gather your paperwork. Having all the necessary documents well-organized can make the process of applying for the loan much quicker, and it may even result in you getting approved faster.

Some of the documents you may need will involve personal information. First, things like identification and proof of residence are usually needed because financial institutions need to confirm you’re who you say you are so that they can process the loan accurately in your name.

The other documents will involve your finances. Most lenders will want to see proof of your income, as well as your credit score and financial history. They’ll want to be sure you’re making enough money to cover your day-to-day expenses as well as the monthly payment that comes with having a car loan. If they can see that you’re paying your other debts in a timely manner and that you’re bringing in a solid income, you’ll be more likely to get approved.

Lastly, lenders might want to see documentation about the vehicle you’re interested in buying. The make and year of the car may affect what kind of APR you’re eligible for. And If you don’t have a specific vehicle in mind, they may want to know what type of car you’re interested in.

Fill Out Application

Once you’ve figured out all the paperwork, your credit score, and which lender will serve your needs best, you’re ready to fill out the application. Credit unions like Rivermark make it easy for you to apply for an auto loan by having both many convenient Oregon branches to visit in-person and the option to apply online.

When filling out your application, you’ll have the option to add a co-borrower or co-signer should you need one. You’ll also be asked what type of term (in months) you’re interested in for repayment and how much money you’d like to borrow. There aren’t too many questions that need to be answered, but the ones that are asked are important.

Once your application is submitted and approved, you’ll be one step closer to getting the car of your dreams.

signing auto loan documents

Buying a new car is a major financial decision. When you’re shopping around for one, you’ll want to be able to receive a car loan to make this purchase easier. And the best way to get a car loan is through a credit union. Credit unions usually have lower interest rates than other financial institutions. 

Read on to find out what credit union car loan requirements you’ll have to meet. Once you know what you need to do, it will make the whole process quicker and easier so you can get your new car faster.

Be Part of a Credit Union

This one may seem obvious, but in order to get a credit union car loan, you'll need to be a member of the credit union. 

The specific requirements for membership will depend on the individual credit unions. Usually, they could include working for a certain company, residing in a certain area, or being a part of specific groups or organizations. Becoming a member of a credit union will have numerous benefits beyond the lower interest rates and fees of their car loans. And it’s usually fairly easy to join. If you’re not already a member, you can apply to become a member of Rivermark Community Credit Union on our website.

Make Sure Your Credit Score Is Good Enough

Another essential requirement for getting a credit union car loan is to have a good credit score. Different credit unions may have different ranges of what scores they consider to be good. Generally, a good credit score is above 640 or 660.

If your credit score isn’t very high, and you don’t need a new car right away, you may want to take some time to try to improve it before applying for a car loan. You can do so by catching up on past-due payments and paying credit card balances.

Also, look over your credit report and make sure there are no inaccuracies. If there are, you’ll want to take care of those ahead of time. This could also increase your credit score.

However, if you really need a car loan sooner rather than later, there may still be a way for the credit union to give you one. You could have someone who does have strong credit cosign your credit union car loan.

The good news is that credit unions are also usually more flexible. This means they’re more willing to work with those who have credit issues than larger financial institutions. Larger financial institutions may also have higher credit score requirements than credit unions.

Proof of a Steady Income

Being able to prove that you’ll be steadily earning income shows that you will be able to make your monthly payments. And in addition to a steady income, you may have to earn at least a certain amount of money per year.

The exact proof of employment you’ll need to show may depend on the credit union. For instance, it could be your pay stubs from the past month or a W-2 form. If you’re self-employed, the credit union may ask for two to five years of tax returns. If you receive Social Security, you may need to include this information with your financial statements as well.

Speak to your credit union ahead of time and ask what documents are required. That way, you’ll already have them ready to go and be able to speed up the process. If you have additional sources of income or additional assets, take proof of those with you as well. Those may help you improve the terms of your loan.

Proof of Identity and Residence

In addition to proof of income, you’ll likely need a government-issued ID and proof of residence. For instance, an up-to-date driver’s license with your current address will cover both of these requirements. You’re more likely to be required to provide this proof if you’re a new member and it’s your first time getting a loan from your credit union. However, if you’ve been a member of the credit union for some time, they’ll likely already have that information. Knowing your residence is necessary in case you don’t make payments and the car must be taken away.

Proof of Car Insurance

Your credit union will want to know for sure that you have adequate coverage. Your insurance must also comply with state laws. If you don’t have insurance already, this is the time to shop around for it.

Additional Requirements

This may seem obvious, but the applicant, or at least the cosigner, must be at least 18 years old. Having a down payment ready can also help your chances. And keep in mind that once you have the credit union car loan, you’re required to make your payments on time.

Follow this checklist of credit union car loan requirements and you’ll be all set. When you get a loan from Rivermark Community Credit Union, we’ll offer low fixed rates, no application or loan fees, and a quick and easy application process. Plus, you’ll find our service much more personable than you would at larger financial institutions. If you have any additional questions, we’re here to help. You can find our contact information and more on the Rivermark website. You can also find out more about our special Express Auto Loan and even apply online. Before you know it, you’ll be driving in your new car.

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