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Golden 1 Credit Union Auto Loan Review

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Golden 1 Credit Union offers several advantages many other lenders don’t. New car buyers are eligible for the same APR whether they’re taking out a 36-month loan or an 84-month one. Used car buyers will find lenient vehicle requirements here — vehicles up to 14 years may qualify. However, any borrower must meet Golden 1’s membership criteria, which include significant ties to the state of California.

How do Golden 1 auto loans work?

In addition to new, used and refinance auto loans, Golden 1 Credit Union also provides financing for both new and used:

But for purposes of this review, we’ll focus on traditional auto loans at Golden 1, which stands out for financing vehicles with models going back 14 years. That means in 2020, you can seek financing with Golden 1 for vehicles model years 2006 and newer. When other lenders restrict models to the past 10 years and loan amounts to $4,000 or higher, this is an advantage for those seeking an inexpensive used car starting at $1,000.

Used car buyers, in fact, are eligible for Golden 1’s lowest possible APRs. Borrowers who buy a used vehicle through Enterprise Car Sales may receive an APR discount of up to 1.00%, reducing their minimum APR to 2.74%.

Golden 1 auto loan rates and terms: at a glance

Here’s a closer look at rates for new and used vehicles, not including discounts.

Loan Type APR Range Loan Amounts Terms Vehicle Restrictions
New 3.24%–12.29% $1,000 min.,
no max.
12–84  months Current model year or prior year model. Mileage cannot exceed 5,000 miles.
Used 3.49%–11.09% $1,000 min., no max. 12–84 months Model year must fall within the past 9 years. Mileage cannot exceed 16,000 miles.
Older model years 6.79%–13.79% $1,000–$40,000 12–60 months Model year must fall between the past 9-14 years, or the vehicle must have between 16,000 and 100,000 miles.
Older model years 7.79%–17.59% $1,000–$25,000 12–48 months Model year must fall between the past 9-14 years, and/or the vehicle has more than 100,000 miles.

The fine print

These rates apply to refinancing, as well — Golden 1 does not refinance its own loans.

Loan-to-value ratio: Golden 1 offers up to 115% financing on new and used auto loans and up to 100% for loans on vehicles that are at least 10 years old. Be careful when borrowing more than your vehicle is worth so you don’t risk becoming upside down in your auto loan.

Credit requirements: Golden 1 Credit Union does not require a specific minimum credit score to qualify for an auto loan. The vehicle, your credit history and other factors are all taken into account. The credit union does only pull from Experian, though. Credit history reported through Equifax or TransUnion won’t be taken into account.

First-time buyer loans

If you’re a first-time car buyer, it’s possible to borrow from Golden 1. This could benefit those with no credit history, but those with negative marks on their credit history may not qualify. And even if you do qualify, rates will likely be relatively high, and you could be required to put up to 10% down. There are pros and cons to having a cosigner on your auto loan, but it may be a more affordable option than Golden 1’s first-time buyer loans.

First-Time Buyer Loans
Vehicle Restrictions Starting APR Loan Amount Term
Current model year or prior year model. Mileage cannot exceed 5,000 miles. 8.99% $1,000–$20,000 Up to 60 months.
Model year must fall within the past 9 years.

Mileage cannot exceed 100,000 miles.

10.99% $1,000–$20,000 Up to 60 months.
All vehicles with over 100,000 miles.

All model years between the last 9-14 years.

14.99% $1,000–$20,000 Up to 60 months.

Golden 1 car-buying services

You could shop for both a car loan and the car itself through Golden 1. The credit union is one of hundreds that use the online AutoSMART platform that connects car buyers with preferred dealerships in their area. You could sort vehicles by those offered at “plus” dealers, dealers that give members set pricing. A perk of the platform is that you could also shop for commercial vehicles, boats, RVs and motorcycles, something not offered by other car-buying services. But like all such services, it’s possible you could negotiate the same — or a better — price on your car at dealers of your choosing.

Enterprise Car Sales

A second way to buy a car through Golden 1 is through its partnership with rental car company Enterprise. Choose from vehicles at 22 Enterprise locations in California or start your hunt online. You would be limited to used cars, cars that may have been used as rental or fleet cars, and the maximum loan term would be 60 months. There are pros and cons to buying a rental car, but you would be eligible for Golden 1’s lowest possible APR, as we mentioned earlier.

Golden 1 membership requirements

You do not need to be a member before you apply for an auto loan, but you will have to be a member in order to accept one. If you live or work in California, you are eligible to join Golden 1 Credit Union. You are also eligible for membership if you have a family member or domestic partner who is a member of Golden 1, or if you work for one of Golden 1’s select partner employers.

You can become a member online with your:

  • Social Security number.
  • Date of birth
  • State-issued ID

How to apply for an auto loan at Golden 1

You can initiate this process online, over the phone or at a branch. It will be helpful to have:

  • Make and model year of the vehicle
  • List price
  • Amount you’re putting down

After you provide basics on the desired loan and vehicle, you will be asked for personal information, including a state-issued ID and income data.

Once your application has been submitted, wait for an email to hit your inbox. This will tell you whether you have been approved.

Next, if you have been approved, you will receive a call from a loan officer to discuss your offer, including terms and APR. If you choose to move forward, you will be asked for any further supporting documentation that may be required.

How to pay your Golden 1 auto loan

If you accept an auto loan from Golden 1, the easiest way to make payments is online. Through Golden 1’s online payment portal, you can set up one-time or recurring payments without having to log in to any account. All you’ll need to pay is your bank account information and loan information.

You can also pay at a branch in person, via phone or via mail.

Your final payment will need to be made at a branch or via postal mail.

Pros and cons of Golden 1 auto loans

Golden 1 Credit Union works to offer auto financing to as many of their members as possible. That means those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get a vehicle loan like first-time borrowers and those purchasing older vehicles can access reasonable financing.

However, membership is limited primarily to those with ties to California, and the rates that look competitive next to larger financial institutions start to dull in comparison to great rates offered by other credit unions.


  • No prepayment penalties.
  • Easy for California residents to qualify for membership.
  • Competitive rates.
  • Financing for high-mileage and older vehicles, though both types are likely to fall at the higher end of the APR range.
  • Low starting terms and amounts.


  • Only available to those with ties to California or one of Golden 1’s partner employers.
  • Car buying programs are limited — by offering interest rate reductions through only one of its car-buying services, Golden 1 places itself behind the competition.

Who is a Golden 1 auto loan best for?

Golden 1 auto loans are best for those who live or work in California and:

  • Have a good credit history as reported by Experian.
  • Have means by which to repay the loan.
  • Are purchasing a vehicle with average or low mileage for its age.

If you have bad credit or you have not borrowed before, you won’t benefit from Golden 1’s best APR offerings. The same goes for those purchasing higher-mileage vehicles. However, the fact that you may qualify at all puts Golden 1 ahead of some other lenders on the market.


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