BECU Auto Loan Review
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The best auto loans should be hassle-free and save you money.
Often, working with a credit union can lead to lower rates because these nonprofit financial institutions are community-focused.
In a world full of competitive auto loan options, BECU might not be the first place for the average consumer to look. However, if you’re already a member and you have the finances to qualify for a good rate, BECU can be a good option.
Here’s a breakdown of BECU auto loans.
- About BECU (Boeing Employees Credit Union) and its auto loans
- BECU auto loans: At a glance
- How to apply for financing
- The fine print
- Pros and cons of financing through BECU
- The bottom line: Who is BECU best for?
About BECU (Boeing Employees Credit Union) and its auto loans
Formed in the height of the Great Depression to help Boeing Co. workers finance their tools, BECU is a credit union open to those who live or work in Washington state and select Idaho and Oregon counties, as well as members of select associations.
BECU offers auto loans for new and used vehicles. You’ll have to be a member to complete an application. The primary distinction for auto loan applicants is between new and used autos, as rates for used vehicles begin at a slightly higher rate.
BECU auto loans: At a glance
|BECU Auto Loans|
|Type of Loan||APR Range||Terms||Loan Amounts|
|New auto||2.74% – 18.00%||Up to 84 months||Up to 90% LTV for best rates|
|Used auto||3.49% – 18.00%||Up to 84 months||Up to 90% LTV for best rates|
Higher rates may be charged for loans longer than 48 months or if your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is greater than 90%. BECU doesn’t specify those loan amounts, though, so you’ll need to contact the credit union for details.
BECU offers auto loans for both new and used cars. As of Nov. 20 2019, the credit union defines a new car as 2017 model year and newer.
You won’t get the best rates unless you have good credit. Additionally, you might not get financed for as much as you would figure, since BECU uses the Kelley Blue Book wholesale value for LTV pricing terms rather than the retail value.
Besides auto loans, BECU offers financing for:
- Recreational vehicles
- Sports vehicles
Rates for motorcycle financing are highest, beginning at 5.94% as of Nov. 20, 2019. All these specialty rates start higher than those you can get on either a new or used auto loan with BECU.
When it comes to vehicle financing, it pays to shop around. No single bank or credit union has the lowest rates for all types of financing, so see what your options are available before you commit to a single institution.
How to apply for financing
Before you can take out a BECU auto loan, you’ll need to become a member if you aren’t already.
You can apply online or at a branch in about 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll need:
- Social Security number
- Valid ID
- Contact information, such as phone number and street address
After becoming a member, you’ll need to provide additional information to apply for an auto loan. The credit union will already have your personal and financial information.
Typically, you’ll need to provide information about the vehicle you intend to finance, including the make, model, body style, mileage and VIN, but this information isn’t explicitly stated on BECU’s website.
The fine print
BECU’s website is pretty sparse when it comes to loan information. With some digging, however, you can find certain particulars.
One noteworthy detail is that BECU will finance vehicles with up to 150,000 miles, which means you could finance nearly any car that you’d likely be interested in purchasing.
Potential borrowers should also note that BECU uses the Kelley Blue Book wholesale or dealer invoice price when it comes to determining LTV. This price is lower than the private party value on the KBB site, since dealers need to spend money to refurbish cars before they offer them for sale, so you may not be able to obtain quite as much financing as you might think.
Lastly, as with most lenders, the best advertised rates you see on BECU’s site are not available to all, or even most, borrowers. Rates are determined based on a combination of factors, including:
- Your loan term
- The age of the car used as collateral
- The combined LTV
- The loan amount
As BECU states on its website, the rate you receive may be higher than the lowest rates advertised.
Pros and cons of financing through BECU
BECU only offers auto loans to its members, so not everyone can get the credit union’s rates. However, for members with good credit, auto loan rates are fairly low.
One of the main advantages of borrowing through BECU is the credit union’s Loan Reprice Program. BECU periodically reviews the credit of its members. If you have improved your credit score, you may be eligible for an automatic rate drop on your outstanding loans.
Occasionally, BECU offers special financing deals that grant lower auto loan rates when financed with participating dealers, such as Burien Chevrolet in Burien, Wash., or Toyota of Bellevue, Wash. There was a promotion event in September 2019, for example, when BECU dropped rates by 0.50% for loans financed with its partners.
However, you can’t refinance an auto loan with BECU, and rates can be quite high for those with poor credit.
Highlights of BECU auto loans
- Generally low rates for those with good credit
- Loan Reprice Program
- Works with dealer partners
- Numerous auto loan calculators
- BECU Indirect Lending Auto Loan Program
According to data from the Federal Reserve, the nationwide average for 48- and 60-month car loans is 5.27%, as of August 2019.
This means that customers with good credit can score a below-average rate at BECU. If you can’t get a great rate off the bat, BECU’s Loan Reprice Program may nudge your rate downward over time if you can demonstrate improving credit.
BECU offers numerous auto loan calculators to help you determine:
- How much car you can afford
- How much your monthly payments might be
- Whether a new or used vehicle might be a better fit
If you choose to work with one of BECU’s car partners, the credit union promises a “stress-free” experience. This lending assistance program connects you with a roster of partner dealers to help you search, shop and finance your auto loan.
Lowlights of BECU auto loans
- Available to members only
- No refinancing loans available
- Best rates only available for loans of 48 months or less
- Those with poor credit may face rates of up to 18.00%
If you’re not a BECU member, you’re out of luck when it comes to the company’s auto loans.
However, you can join at any time — as long as you qualify — and take advantage of BECU’s auto loan rates. If you want the best rates, in addition to having a good credit score, you’ll need to keep your loan to a reasonable time frame of 48 months or less.
If you feel the need to take a loan of 60 months or longer and/or if you have poor credit, BECU might not be a good option for you.
The bottom line: Who is BECU best for?
Based on the BECU’s terms and service, it’s clear who gets the best deal for auto loans at the credit union:
- Those who are members
- Those with good credit
- Those who can take out a 48-month or shorter loan
Using BECU might not be the best choice for those with poor credit because rates can be high — although the BECU Loan Reprice Program could get you better rates over time.