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Golden 1 Credit Union Auto Loan Review

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Are you wondering if a Golden 1 auto loan is right for you? The answer is… maybe.

Interest rates on car loans start low at Golden 1 Credit Union and the lender offers a lot of flexibility around payments, but many of the basic loan terms aren’t disclosed up front. You’ll also have to become a member before you can apply for a Golden 1 car loan, which can be challenging for consumers who don’t live or work in California.

Golden 1 loans at a glance

Interest rates start low for new and used vehicle loans at Golden 1, but other loan details are a mystery. To find out more about loan amounts and repayment terms, you’ll have to get preapproved.

Loan TypeAPR*TermsAmountMin. Credit Score
New3.84% and upNot disclosedNot disclosedNot disclosed
Used (dealers)3.99% and upNot disclosedNot disclosedNot disclosed
RefinanceNot disclosedNot disclosedNot disclosedNot disclosed

* Rates accurate as of date of publication

Golden 1 auto loans pros and cons

Despite their lack of disclosure around loan terms, Golden 1 is still worth considering for auto loans, especially if you live in California. Borrowers outside of the Golden State may find it hard to access all the lending services they need.

ProsCons

  Low starting APR

  Preapproval is available

  Borrowers can change their due date

  Joint applications are allowed

  Membership is limited

  Branches and ATMs only available in California

  High APR for first-time buyers

  Important loan details are not disclosed up front

A closer look at Golden 1 auto loans

Golden 1 Credit Union offers financing for new and used autos, RVs and motorcycles. You may be able to refinance an auto loan from another lender, but Golden 1 does not refinance its own loans.

Interest rates can be a bit of a wild card with Golden 1. The starting APR is low and buyers can get a 1.00% APR discount if they purchase through Enterprise Car Sales, but first-time car buyers will pay a lot more. If you’re seeking your first auto loan, you’ll pay a minimum APR of 8.99% with this lender.

Golden 1 offers financing for up to 100% of your vehicle’s purchase price. That means you might not have to make a down payment, but it can also mean paying higher interest rates or having a harder time getting approved. Keep in mind that financing your entire purchase can put you at risk of being upside down in your auto loan.

Here are some other features to consider before applying for a Golden 1 auto loan:

  • Credit score requirements aren’t disclosed.
  • It may take a day or more to get preapproved. Preapproval quotes are good for 30 days.
  • There’s no prepayment penalty, but other fees are unclear.

Membership is required

You’ll have to be a Golden 1 credit union member in order to take out a car loan, and membership is mostly for Californians.

You can join the credit union if you live or work in California, if your family member or registered domestic partner is a Golden 1 member or if you belong to a “Select Employee Group.”

In order to apply for membership, you’ll have to provide the following information for yourself and, if applicable, your joint applicant:

  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth
  • State-issued ID

You’ll also need to open a Golden 1 Regular Savings Account and deposit at least $1. The account doesn’t have any monthly fees and earns 0.05% APY. Note that submitting a membership application will cause a hard inquiry into your credit.

Flexible payment options

If your payment due date doesn’t quite work for you, Golden 1 will let you switch it up. Borrowers can choose a different due date within the same month by filling out a Revision Agreement form and bringing it to a branch.

If you need a temporary break from payments, Golden 1’s Skip-a-Payment Program can help. The program allows you skip up to two payments on your car loan (one per 18-month cycle) if you meet the following requirements:

  • You’re current on your loan payments
  • The loan is at least 24 months old
  • Your request is submitted at least 10 days before your next due date
  • You pay a $30 processing fee

Interest will still accrue while you’re utilizing the Skip-a-Payment option.

Customer support

Golden 1 isn’t fully in the modern age in terms of customer support. There’s no chat function on the website, so you’ll have to contact them by email, by phone or by visiting a branch if you need assistance.

Some documents must be delivered to the credit union by mail or by hand, including the form to set up automatic payments and the form to request a change to your payment date. Golden 1 only has 70 physical bank locations, all of which are in California. Nearly half are located in the Sacramento area.

The credit union does have a mobile app for Apple and Android, and as an added benefit, membership includes free access to your credit scores, credit reports and credit monitoring services.

How to apply for a Golden 1 auto loan

You can apply for a Golden 1 auto loan online or at a branch. Here’s what you’ll need to provide:

  1. Vehicle information. It’s okay if you haven’t settled on an exact vehicle yet, but you’ll need to estimate the car’s price and your down payment amount.
  2. Personal information. Be prepared to share some personal information, including:
    • Social Security number
    • Citizenship status
    • Contact information and residence
    • Employment status and income
    • Photo ID

There may be additional requirements to complete an application, but Golden 1 does not publicly disclose the information.

If you qualify for a loan and you use your loan to purchase a car through a dealership, you’ll receive a package in the mail that includes your payment due date and information on how to make your payments online.

How Golden 1 auto loans compare

Like Golden 1, Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU) and Patelco Credit Union are mostly for residents of California. Unlike Golden 1, however, these credit unions are fairly transparent about their loan terms and both allow borrowers to delay their first auto loan payment for 90 days. If you don’t live in California, there are many great credit unions offering auto loans to consider.

Golden 1 Credit UnionEECUPatelco
APR3.84% and up3.34% and up3.69%-17.99%
TermsNot disclosed36-84 monthsUp to 84 months
AmountNot disclosedNot disclosedNo set minimum
Min. Credit ScoreNot disclosedNot disclosedNot disclosed

Is a Golden 1 loan right for you?

Given the lack of disclosure, its hard to tell if a Golden 1 loan will be the best loan for your needs. A preapproval quote can give you some insight, but you’ll have to become a member before you can get an official offer from Golden 1.

For that reason, Golden 1 auto loans are best for people who are already members of the credit union.

Shoppers looking to finance their first car should shop around for better rates elsewhere, since Golden 1 offers high APRs for first-time buyers. If you’re a credit union member and this isn’t your first time purchasing a car, Golden 1 could be a great place to go for low rates and flexible payment options.

 

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