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Northeast Credit Union Auto Loan Review

Portsmouth, N.H.-based Northeast Credit Union (NECU) offers decent starting interest rates and term lengths on its auto loans, but we’re unclear about many other specifics.

What we do know: In addition to auto loans, the credit union offers refinancing, cash-out refinancing and lease buyouts. We’ll explain what we learned — and didn’t learn — about NECU auto loan rates to help you shop.

How do NECU auto loans work?

How much you pay — and what loan options are available to you — depends on the model year of your new or used vehicle.

Starting APRs for Northeast Credit Union Auto Loans
Term lengths Model years
2018-2020 2013-2017 2011-2012 2008-2010
Up to 63 months 3.19% 3.34% 3.89% 6.89%
64–75 months 3.44% 3.84% No rate listed No rate listed
76–84 months 4.44% 5.04% No rate listed No rate listed

 

The displayed auto loan rates include some built-in discounts:

  • 0.10 percentage point interest rate discount for having an NECU checking account
  • 0.10 percentage point interest rate discount for setting up autopay
  • 0.10 percentage point interest rate discount for having a NECU Visa credit card

Auto loans of 63 months or less have the most financing options available, with four tiers of APRs for vehicles ranging from brand-new ones still on the lot to cars that are 12 years old. On vehicles with model years 2013 or newer, you can get an auto loan up to 84 months, or seven years. (Keep in mind, though, that while longer term lengths may shrink your monthly payments, it’ll cost you more in interest over the long term.)

It’s possible Northeast Credit Union doesn’t offer auto loans for the model years and term lengths where no rates were listed, but we couldn’t get confirmation from the credit union despite multiple phone calls and emails. We also couldn’t determine the specific term lengths available for loans up to 63 months.

IMPORTANT:If you don’t have a checking account or Visa credit card with NECU or you don’t set up autopay, your starting NECU auto loan rates will be higher. And keep in mind that those listed in the chart are the lowest rates. Yours may be different depending on your credit score and other factors. (We reached out for clarification about credit requirements as well but didn’t receive specifics.)

NECU Auto Loans at a Glance
Loan amounts $20,000 minimum required for loans of 76 to 84 months; unclear on other loan amounts
Loan terms
  • Up to 63 months
  • 64 to 75 months
  • 76 to 84 months
Credit requirements At least 640 if you’re a first-time auto buyer
Mileage or vehicle restrictions
  • Doesn’t fund loans for cars older than model year 2008
  • Vehicle must have less than 80,000 miles on it if you’re a first-time auto buyer

 

NECU’s website states it offers up to 100% financing. But it also notes that if you’re applying for a 76-to-84-month auto loan, you’ll need to finance at least $20,000. There are no similar details about other term lengths.

There are several restrictions if you’re a first-time auto buyer. You’ll need to have a credit score of at least 640 and proof that your income is at least $2,000 a month. If you meet these criteria, you’ll also have a mandatory interest rate increase of 3%. You also can’t finance any vehicle with more than 80,000 miles on it.

If you’re looking for something different, Northeast Credit Union also offers recreational vehicle loans for RVs, ATVs, snowmobiles, boats and motorcycles.

Buying a car through NECU

Northeast Credit Union offers a car-buying service by partnering with AutoSMART. This helps you locate and/or customize a vehicle that’s just right for you — and can speed up the financing process.

It’s unclear whether this tool is limited to people living in NECU’s main service area (New Hampshire and Maine). When we input a Washington state ZIP code in the search, we couldn’t find participating dealers in the area.

How to apply for an NECU auto loan

You can apply online, via phone (888-436-1847) or at a branch. Northeast Credit Union has 19 branches throughout New Hampshire and southern Maine. If you’re in New Hampshire, you can also apply for an NECU auto loan directly at partner dealerships.

You can also apply for preapproval for an NECU auto loan. Because you’re filling out an application through NECU, doing so will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report. But if you complete all your auto loan rate shopping within 14 days, it’ll be recorded as a single inquiry, minimizing the impact on your credit score.

NECU membership requirements

To apply for an NECU auto loan, you’ll first need to become a member of the credit union. Membership is open to the following groups:

  • Those who work at one of 75-plus affiliated companies
  • Those who live within 30 miles of a branch
  • Those with a family member who is an NECU member
  • Those who live, worship, go to school or work in New Hampshire or in York or Cumberland counties in Maine

In addition to these requirements, you’ll need to have a Regular Savings account with at least a $5 minimum deposit to join.

How to pay your NECU auto loan

You can pay your bill online, via mobile app, at a branch, by mail or over the phone (888-436-1847 or 888-534-6931). You can also pay your bill at nearly 5,600 Co-Op Network branches nationwide.

Pros and cons of NECU auto loans

It’s important to look at a list of NECU auto loan pros and cons — and do the same for competitors — before deciding which auto loan is right for you.

Pros

Potentially good interest rates

Long-term length options

Up to 100% financing possible

Cons

Lack of transparency

Doesn’t finance cars older than 2008 models

More restrictions for first-time auto buyers

Not clear if you can get an auto loan if you live outside of New Hampshire or Maine

Who is an NECU auto loan best for?

NECU auto loan rates aren’t bad if:

  • You can qualify for the stringent rate discounts
  • You have good credit and income
  • You aren’t a first-time auto buyer

That’s a lot of “ifs,” and it’s normally a bit of a red flag. It’s normal for credit union lenders to not disclose every little detail, but it’s reassuring when they’re willing to answer questions. We didn’t get those answers from Northeast Credit Union customer service.

For example, we know NECU offers auto loan refinancing (with no payments for 90 days) cash-out refinancing and lease buyouts because they’re listed as options on the application, but we aren’t able to track down more specifics.

If you live in New Hampshire or southern Maine and you’re looking to buy a car, it’s worth doing some research on NECU. It may very well be able to offer you better rates than its competitors. Just be sure you get clear answers before you commit to applying.

 

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