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Navy Federal Credit Union Auto Loan Review

Navy Federal Credit Union, like other credit unions, offers low auto loan rates. The catch is that you must be a member in order to qualify for them. Eligible members will find a range of options at Navy Federal, whether you’re interested in a new, used or even classic car or refinancing a vehicle you already have.

How Navy Federal Credit Union car loans work

As we mentioned earlier, you need to be a member before you can directly apply for a Navy Federal Credit Union auto loan. We’ll discuss membership requirements in more detail, below, but Navy Federal serves those with a connection to a branch of the military or the U.S. Department of Defense. Once you’re a member, you can apply online, by phone or by visiting a branch, but it’s worth mentioning that there are only a handful of U.S. branches. Navy Federal also offers motorcycle, boat and RV loans, but for the purposes of this review, we’ll focus on auto loans.

Navy Federal auto loan rates and terms: at a glance

These terms apply for purchases from dealerships, private parties and for refinancing.

New autos 
Three most recent model years, up to 7,499 miles.
Starting APR Terms
2.49% Up to 36 months
2.89% 37–60 months
2.99% 61–72 months
5.39% 73–84 months
6.29% 85–96 months

 

Late-model used autos 
Three most recent model years between 7,500 and 30,000 miles.
Starting APR Terms
2.99% Up to 36 months
3.09% 37–60 months
4.59% 61–72 months

 

Used autos 
Between 3 and 20 years old or any model with 30,000 miles or more.
Starting APR Terms
3.89% Up to 36 months
4.29% 37–60 months
4.99% 61–72 months

Amounts. The minimum amount you need to borrow for a Navy Federal auto loan is $250 for terms up to 84 months and $30,000 for terms of 85 to 96 months.

Refinance loans and private party loans have the same starting APRs as new and used vehicles, which isn’t always the case with other lenders. As of Dec. 11, 2019, Navy Federal offered $200 to those who refinanced a loan from another lender; Navy Federal doesn’t refinance its own loans.

Classic auto loans. Navy Federal Classic auto loans have a starting APR of 8.09% and a maximum term of 180 months.

Shop around

Navy Federal offers competitive rates, but it’s not the only option for military families. PenFed Credit Union and USAA are two more lenders offering competitive rates for those with military connections. Just like you should consider a few cars, you should also consider a few lenders. It could pay to compare rates for an auto loan and apply with your own bank, credit union or online lender. It does not harm your credit to apply to multiple lenders any more than it does to apply to one as long as you do applications within a 14-day period — and some credit scoring methods may even allow you up to 45 days.

Navy Federal Auto Buying Program

If you’re considering using Navy Federal to provide your auto loan, you might be considering using them to help find your car. Navy Federal partners with Affinity Auto Group to provide pre-set pricing on vehicles through a network of dealerships. Here’s how it works:

  1. Use Navy Federal’s car-buying site to find the car you want at a local dealer.
  2. Make an appointment and visit the dealer to test-drive the car.
  3. Ask to see the Navy Federal Value Sheet for your pricing.

You can compare that price to your own research using industry pricing guides like Kelley Blue Book or NADAguides. It’s also a good idea to get a preapproved auto loan before you go to the dealer — we’ll walk you through Navy Federal’s preapproval process, below.

Navy Federal auto insurance

Navy Federal itself doesn’t offer auto insurance, but it has joined forces with insurance providers. Navy Federal members could get a special discount on auto insurance through Geico stateside and through International Insurance Underwriters overseas.

The fine print

Navy Federal makes it easy to find its rates online, but it’s not as straightforward to find loan amounts or minimum terms — a spokesperson confirmed them at our request. The best rates go to those who can repay their loans relatively quickly — in 36 months or less. If you want to borrow for longer, your starting rate will be higher. Here are some additional details to watch out for:

APRs as low as: Like any lender, you must have good or excellent credit to qualify for the lowest rates at Navy Federal. Your rate could be higher depending on your credit score and vehicle value.

Vehicle requirements: The newer the vehicle, the better the rate, but Navy Federal provides new or used loans for all types of vehicles, as long as they are within 20 model years and have a clean title. Older cars may be eligible for a collateral loan at a higher rate.

As we’ve already mentioned, Navy Federal Credit Union requires that you be a member before taking out one of its auto loans and in doing so, you must open a Navy Federal savings account with a deposit of at least $5.

To qualify, you must fall into one of the following groups or be a household member or immediate family member of someone who does:

  • Active-duty service member in the Air Force, Air National Guard, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps or Navy
  • Delayed Entry Program (DEP) enlistees
  • Department of Defense officer candidates/ROTC participants
  • Department of Defense government or civilian employees
  • Veterans, reservists, retirees and annuitants

Navy Federal defines an immediate family member as a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or grandchild.

How to apply for a Navy Federal auto loan

Once you’ve applied to be a member, you can apply for an auto loan. It’s possible to apply online, in person or by calling 888-842-6328.

Navy Federal has no minimum credit score requirement. Instead, it uses a holistic approach to determine members’ creditworthiness, according to a spokesperson. Here’s what you’ll need to apply for membership and/or an auto loan:

  • Direct membership eligibility: Your military branch, rank, date of discharge.
  • Membership eligibility: The Navy Federal Access Number, Social Security number and date of birth of the person who makes you eligible for membership.
  • Personal: Name, Social Security number, address and contact information.
  • Employment: Employer name, address and contact information.
  • Vehicle: VIN or year, make, model and mileage.
  • Trade-in vehicle: Title or loan information and registration

This is not a complete list of the information you may need. Navy Federal may ask for more or less information, including proof of income and proof of residence.

Navy Federal auto loan preapproval

If you haven’t picked out the exact vehicle you want yet, you could get an auto loan preapproval to take with you to the dealership. You do need to know how much you’d like to borrow — including any fees, taxes and add-ons — and for how long, and provide your personal information. Based on this, Navy Federal might approve you for an amount, a loan term and an APR.

You could then get the preapproval check in the mail or by visiting a branch. Then, it’s time to go kick some tires knowing you’re already approved for a car loan and for how much. A quick tip: You may want to shop for a vehicle that is a couple thousand dollars less than your preapproval in order to have enough to cover fees, though it’s certainly possible to request a larger loan amount. Once you’ve picked out the car, you could contact Navy Federal or have the dealer contact the credit union to finalize the loan.

Pros and cons of Navy Federal car loans

With competitive rates and a wide selection of auto loans, members may find a loan here that fits their needs. But read the fine print closely — Navy Federal does not publicly disclose its maximum APRs and the best rates may go to those who have higher credit scores and repay loans relatively quickly.

Pros of Navy Federal auto financing

  • Competitive rates. Navy Federal offers very competitive rates.
  • Direct deposit discount. Active-duty and retired military members with direct deposit could get a 0.25% APR discount on a new auto loan as an additional amount off the advertised “as low as” APR.
  • Refinance cash back. If you refinance your auto loan with Navy Federal, you could recieve $200 cash back after 65 days and once you’ve made your first scheduled payment.
  • Many ways to apply. Navy Federal lets you apply for an auto loan three ways: by phone, online and in person.
  • Overseas auto-buying program. Navy Federal offers an overseas auto-buying program. You could buy a car with Navy Federal whether you’re on a boat or in a foriegn nation and have the car delivered to you stateside or overseas.

Cons of Navy Federal auto financing

  • Membership required. Not everyone qualifies for membership with Navy Federal.
  • Getting the check may not be instant. If you want your preapproval or your actual check in-hand before going to the dealership, you could get the check through the mail or by visiting a branch.
  • Lack of branches. Navy Federal only has a few U.S. branches, so it might not be the best option if you prefer to do banking in person.

Who is a Navy Federal car loan best for?

Navy Federal auto loans are best for members (or eligible members) who have direct deposit to their Navy Federal banking account or are willing to establish it. These members are eligible for rates that could be as low as 2.24%.

Those with great credit will find their best rates, but new car buyers might be able to qualify for 0% financing through the manufacturer. No matter your credit, comparing rates and terms is the best way to find the best deal for you.

 

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