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Mountain America Credit Union Auto Loan Review

While there are some significant positives to taking out a Mountain America Credit Union auto loan, you will have to have ties to the Salt Lake City region as a basic matter of eligibility.

If you qualify for MACU membership — whether through your residence or your employer — you may be eligible for competitive auto loan rates, along with Mountain America Credit Union’s consumer research and savings tools.

How do MACU auto loans work?

Mountain America Credit Union (MACU) offers APRs on par with banks and online lenders, but we’ve seen lower available rates at other credit unions. However, the starting MACU auto loan rate is the same whether the car is the current model year or seven years old, as long you’re seeking a term of 60 months or less. MACU finances cars for longer as well as cars that are eight years or older, but you’ll pay a higher rate.

Mountain America Credit Union auto loan rates: At a glance

Term APR Range* Loan Amount Mileage/Vehicle Restrictions
72 Months 3.49%–13.74% No min/max Current model year
60 Months 3.24%–13.74% No min/max Current model year
60 Months 3.24%–13.74% No min/max Used vehicles (past 1-3 model years, 150,000 miles max)
48 Months 3.24%–13.74% No min/max Used vehicles (past 4-5 model years, 150,000 miles max)
36 Months 3.24%–13.74% No min/max Used vehicles (past 6-7 model years, 150,000 miles max)
36 Months 4.24%+ No min/max Used vehicles (8 model years or older, 150,000 miles max)

*Includes 0.25% APR discount for members who pay via MyStyle Checking Account.

MACU also offers financing for:

  • RVs
  • Boats
  • ATVs
  • Travel trailers
  • Utility vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Dirt bikes
  • Watercraft
  • Snowmobiles

The fine print

As we noted earlier, you can receive a 0.25% APR discount on your a Mountain America Credit Union auto loan if you use your MACU MyStyle checking account to make automatic payments. But we’ll also point out you’ll pay a $4 monthly maintenance fee for this account unless you:

  • Make at least $1,000 in direct deposits each month.
  • Perform at least 10 debit and/or credit card transactions each month.
  • Maintain an average daily balance of at least $2,500 for the month.
Credit requirements

Like other credit unions, MACU doesn’t specify a minimum credit score needed for an auto loan. Instead, it takes a comprehensive view of your entire financial situation. Select qualified borrowers may qualify for 100% financing.

MACU car-buying service

You can buy a car through Mountain America Credit Union as well as finance one. Start by researching cars online through the AutoSMART platform. This tool connects you with partner dealerships that give members set pricing.

While it may be possible to negotiate the same or better deal on your own from a possibly wider circle of dealerships, purchasing through AutoSMART can have some positive side effects. For example, in certain situations, MACU may be more likely to agree to 100% financing, no down payment required. Your odds increase because you’ll be working with one of the credit union’s trusted dealerships.

MACU auto loan calculator

When shopping for a car, use the MACU auto loan calculator to help set a budget. The MACU car loan calculator allows you to estimate your monthly payments depending on how much you borrow, including alternatives if you were to borrow 20% more or 20% less. These estimates assume your credit will qualify you for the lowest available rates. It only provides estimates for vehicles of a model year seven years old or newer.

You could also work backward from a desired monthly payment to a car price using this affordability calculator. But be mindful that low monthly payments can mean longer loans and higher interest costs over time.

Mountain America Credit Union membership

You do not need to be a member of Mountain America Credit Union to apply for a MACU auto loan, but you will have to become a member in order to accept one.

Membership is primarily for residents of Salt Lake and Duchesne counties in Utah. It is also available to residents of census tracts 940300, 940100 or 940200 in Wasatch and Uintah counties. If you’re like most people and don’t know your census tract, you can check it here.

There are a few other ways to qualify for membership. You may qualify if you:

  • Live under the same roof as a current MACU member.
  • Are a family member of a current Mountain America Credit Union member.
  • Work for one of the companies in MACU’s Select Employer Group. You can search for your employer here.

How to apply for a MACU car loan

You can apply for a Mountain America Credit Union auto loan online, at a physical branch or over the phone at 1-800-748-4302. Be prepared by having the following information on hand:

  • Contact information
  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license
  • The vehicle’s identification number (VIN) and mileage, if you know the exact vehicle you want to buy.
MACU preapproval

The first step in the application process is preapproval. You do not need to be a member to receive preapproval, but you will need to become a member to follow through and officially take out a Mountain America car loan.

A hard pull will be done on your credit as a part of the preapproval process. Hard pulls can have an impact on your credit score.

Shop around. You will receive a call from a MACU auto loan officer within 24 hours to review your potential approval for the loan. The loan officer will provide your specific APR offer and loan terms. This offer will be good for 30 days, time you can use to compare MACU’s offer with those of competing credit unions, banks or the dealership. You could fill out a single online form at LendingTree and receive up to five loan offers from lenders, depending on your creditworthiness.

You can complete the loan process through your loan officer or at certain dealerships.

Pros and cons of MACU auto loans

Pros

  • Options for used car buyers. MACU finances cars that are eight years and older when other lenders put more restrictive mileage limits on used cars they will finance. MACU issues loans to both those purchasing used cars from dealerships and those purchasing from private parties.
  • Payment deferrals available. Many lenders offer some type of deferral opportunity for their borrowers. MACU offers up to two deferrals every 12 months, which are tacked on to the end of your loan. Remember, you’re not skipping the payment entirely, you’re just skipping it for now. Additional interest will accrue in the meantime.
  • Insurance and vehicle plans. Mountain America Credit Union runs several partner programs in order to offer its members savings on associated vehicle costs. That includes programs for auto insurance, discounted AutoCheck reports and vehicle protection plans. Think carefully before agreeing to a service contract or extended warranty.

Cons

  • Better rates elsewhere. While MACU’s lowest rates are competitive, they’re not the best on the market. Credit unions in particular tend to offer lower-than-market APRs, and many do so with less restrictive membership requirements and/or a wider selection of loan terms.
  • Limited membership eligibility. Unless you have a connection to the Salt Lake region through a family member or your employer, it may be difficult to qualify for MACU membership if you live outside of Utah.
  • Restrictive new vehicle criteria. Some lenders offer exclusive new vehicle rates, including models from the prior model year. MACU auto loans only qualify as “new” for current model year vehicles with the same starting rates as used.

How to pay your MACU auto loan

If you do opt for a Mountain America Credit Union car loan, you’ll  have several options for making payments. You can pay online using an eCheck or debit card. You can also make payments in person at a MACU branch or a shared branch.

While you can pay over the phone,  you will have to meet many stipulations if you choose this route to pay your MACU auto loan:

  • Pay by credit or debit card. 
  • Fees. There is a 2.5% fee for credit card transactions and a $4.95 fee for debit card transactions.
  • Minimums/maximums. You cannot make a payment of less than $10 over the phone. Over any given 25-day period, you can only make up to $3,000 in payments using this system.

Who is a MACU auto loan best for?

Mountain America Credit Union auto loans best suit those in the Salt Lake City area, or those with ties to the area. The most highly qualified borrowers who already bank with MACU — or plan to — stand to reap the most benefits: competitive APR offerings and a potential opportunity for 100% financing. But those with the strongest credit would also be eligible for potentially lower rates at a competing credit union.

 

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