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Kinecta Auto Loan Review

Kinecta Federal Credit Union offers several types of auto loans, allowing members to purchase a range of vehicles at competitive rates. Like other credit unions, available APRs on Kinecta auto loans come in lower than many banks or even online lenders. However, Kinecta auto loans aren’t available to just anyone — you must be a current or eligible prospective member, though membership is open to anyone willing to join the Consumers Cooperative of Santa Monica.

How do Kinecta auto loans work?

Kinecta offers loans for new and used cars as well as motorcycles, boats and RVs. It’s also possible to buy out your current leased vehicle or refinance a vehicle through Kinecta.

Bear in mind that you must buy a car in the state where you reside. So, if you live in San Diego but are scoping out cars in Nevada, you won’t be able to use a Kinecta auto loan to buy it. You must buy the vehicle from a franchise dealership in your home state. While that’s a downside to a Kinecta auto loan, an upside is that the credit union has no minimum or maximum loan amounts.

Kinecta auto loans: at a glance

The lowest possible rates are available to those who buy the newest vehicles at the shortest terms and have payments automatically drafted from their Kinecta account.

Loan type Terms (months) Starting APR*
New (current year’s models) Up to 48 3.14%
49–72 3.79%
Used (past 10 model years) Up to 48 3.69%
49–72 3.99%

*Rates include an autopay discount

The chart above reflects Kinecta’s lowest rates for both purchase and refinance loans, though the rate offered will be determined by your credit score and overall financial profile. We’ll talk more about credit requirements, below.

New vs. used. While other lenders define “new” cars as vehicles within the current and previous model years, Kinecta classifies new as current year models. Used car loans apply to vehicles within the past 10 years, which is standard, though some credit unions and banks allow up to 15 years.

Credit requirements. Kinecta Federal Credit Union does not have a minimum credit score requirement for auto loans. Rather, it evaluates your credit profile, your existing relationship with the credit union, if you are already a member, and your debt-to-income ratio. The credit union assesses each borrower’s request based on their income and debts to determine how much they may borrow. Kinecta will finance auto loans up to 100% of the vehicle’s value, depending on the borrower’s qualifications.

Buying a car through Kinecta

Kinecta not only offers car loans, it will help you find the car itself through AutoSMART. AutoSMART is the online platform connecting credit union customers to dealerships in 49 states (not in Alaska). Kinecta customers may browse available cars from “plus” dealers, dealers in their area that give members set pricing. You can modify your search by vehicle type, price range, year and mileage.

Kinecta membership requirements

As we mentioned earlier, you must be a member of Kinecta Federal Credit Union in order to use one of its auto loans. The good news is it’s possible to apply for an auto loan before joining the credit union. If you are approved and accept the loan offer, you would then join and pay a $5 membership fee. There are several different ways you could join:

  • An immediate family member or someone in your household is a member.
  • Your employer has a partnership with Kinecta.
  • You work, live, go to school, or worship in certain areas of Southern California.
  • Become part of the Consumers Cooperative of Santa Monica (Santa Monica Co-op) for $10, which the credit union will cover.

How to apply for an auto loan at Kinecta

You can apply for preapproval for a Kinecta auto loan through the credit union’s website even if you don’t know the exact vehicle you want. A preapproval will give you a sense of how much money you’ll likely be able to borrow so you can narrow your search only to vehicles you can afford.

Begin by selecting your loan type and filling in information about the car you want to buy. You’ll need details such as:

  • Vehicle type (new or used)
  • Vehicle make and model, if available
  • Estimated loan amount
  • Down payment amount
  • Information about a trade-in, if you have one

If you prefer to apply for an auto loan in person, Kinecta’s 19 public branches are all in Southern California. You may also apply by phone, but it doesn’t appear that you can apply through the Kinecta app. Auto loans are available nationwide, but as we mentioned earlier, you must purchase a car in the state in which you reside.

Shop around. A preapproved auto loan offer is a great idea, but it’s an even better idea to get more than one. You could fill out a single online form at LendingTree and receive up to five loan offers from lenders, depending on your creditworthiness.

How to pay a Kinecta auto loan

If you accept a Kinecta auto loan, when the time comes to make your first payment, you can mail in payments, pay by phone or set up online payments. You can also make payments through the Kinecta app.

Kinecta offers car loan borrowers a “Skip-a-Pay” benefit, in which you postpone a single payment for a month. Skip-a-Pay does not reduce your total amount owed and in fact, extends the life of your loan (and interest continues to accrue), but it can provide some breathing room if you’re swamped with expenses and need a reprieve at some point. Here’s the fine print:

  • Skip-a-Pay is available to borrowers who have held a Kinecta auto loan for more than a year.
  • You may use the benefit up to three times over the life of your loan, though not in the same 12-month period.
  • There’s a $25 fee each time you use Skip-a-Pay.
  • You’ll need to fill out a new application every time you use the program.

Pros and cons of Kinecta auto loans

Pros 

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Car-buying program
  • Ability to skip a payment

Cons 

  • Membership required
  • Restrictions on where you can buy
  • Strict definition of “new” cars
  • No discount for using Kinecta’s car-buying service

Although Kinecta’s “plus” dealer partners offer set pricing for Kinecta members, members do not appear to get a rate discount for buying from preferred dealers. Some credit unions and banks offer an APR discount to borrowers who purchase through their car-buying services.

Who is a Kinecta auto loan best for?

A Kinecta auto loan is a good option for new car buyers interested in the latest model, particularly current members living near a branch in Southern California who might benefit from in-person customer service, as well as online assistance. Rates are competitive for older vehicles as well, but you’ll be limited to buying vehicles from franchised dealers, which puts used cars from independent dealers or private sellers off limits.

 

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