Auto LoansAuto Lender Reviews

Suncoast Auto Loan Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Suncoast Credit Union offers competitive auto loan rates — it even rewards buyers who opt for environmentally-friendly vehicles — plus access to well-priced vehicles for sale. The catch? Membership required.

How Suncoast Credit Union car loans work

Suncoast offers new, used and refinance auto loans in addition to motorcycle, boat and RV financing, but for purposes of this review we’ll focus on traditional auto loans.

Rates and terms at a glance

  • APRs starting at 3.00% for new, used and refinanced cars
  • APRs starting at 3.00% for “green” cars
  • Terms up to 84 months

Suncoast offers the same starting APR for new, used and refinance loans, which means those with good credit looking to buy a used car or refinance the one they already have may find a good deal here, but new-car buyers with strong credit may find a lower rate elsewhere. A customer service representative declined to share the credit union’s maximum APR.

The best rates go to buyers of electric vehicles or vehicles with an EPA rating of at least 28 MPG combined. For the lowest green car rate:

  • The vehicle must be a new, current model year.
  • Borrowers must make automatic payments through a Suncoast account.
  • Electronic statements rather than mailed statements are required.

Here’s a closer look at Suncoast auto loans.

Auto Loan Type Starting APR Maximum Term
Green Car Loan 3.00% 84 months
New, Used & Refinance 3.00% 84 months
Long-Term New, Used & Refinance 4.00% 84 months

 

The best way to find an auto loan is to apply for one directly and, ideally, at more than one lender. If the dealer can beat that preapproved auto loan, great — you’re probably getting a good deal. You could fill out a single online form at LendingTree and get up to five potential auto loan offers from lenders before you go, depending on your creditworthiness.

Membership

Suncoast Credit Union membership is open to those who live, work, attend school or worship in any of the Florida counties that Suncoast serves. You can find out if you’re eligible by searching for branch locations, though most branches are located on the Sunshine State’s western coast, near Suncoast’s headquarters in Tampa. You may also qualify for membership if someone in your immediate family is already a member.

You may apply for membership online or at a branch. You’ll need to show identification and open an account. If your ID doesn’t show your address, you’ll need to show a different proof of residence, like a utility bill, vehicle registration or other document.

How to apply for a Suncoast auto loan

Once you’re a member, there are several ways to apply for a preapproved Suncoast auto loan: online, through the SunMobile app, by phone or in-person at a branch.

  • Online through SunNet Online Banking.
  • Through the app by searching for SunMobile in the Apple Store or Google Play.
  • By phone at 800-999-588.
  • In person at a branch near you.

You typically will need to provide the following information:

  • Personal: Social Security number, address and contact information.
  • Employment: Employer name, address and contact information.
  • Vehicle: VIN or the year, make and model of the car you want.
  • Trade-in vehicle: Title or loan information and registration.

How to pay

If you decide to accept a Suncoast auto loan, there are several ways to make payments:

  • At a branch
  • By check to SunCoast Credit Union (PO Box 11904 Tampa, FL 33680)
  • Online through your Suncoast account
  • Automatic payment from one of your checking or savings accounts
  • Through the app
  • Via payroll deduction
  • By phone at 800-999-5887 ($18 fee applies if the payment is from another financial institution)

Buying a car through Suncoast Credit Union

It’s possible to not only get financing through Suncoast Credit Union, but shop for a car through the lender, too. You could shop online and/or in person:

In person

CU Auto Branch No-haggle pricing on used vehicles in the CU Auto Branch inventory in Tampa. CU Auto Branch also holds weekend members-only sales.
Direct Dealer Referral Connect with one of Suncoast’s contacts at its list of preferred dealerships.

 

Online

TrueCar Suncoast has partnered with national online car-buying firm TrueCar to offer member-only, no-haggle pricing on new and used cars.
Carvana Suncoast has partnered with the online used car site. Shop for and purchase a used vehicle completely online. Carvana can even deliver your vehicle to your home or office.

 

Seven-day guarantee: Both CU Auto Branch and Carvana allow buyers to return any car within seven days. If you buy a vehicle through TrueCar or a dealer, then that business’s guarantee applies, if there is one.

Vehicle add-ons: Add-on products such as GAP insurance are usually available for an additional cost. Here’s what GAP is.

Car insurance from Suncoast Credit Union

Car insurance is available to all members, not just those who buy or get a car loan car through Suncoast. Suncoast partners with Members Insurance Center LLC, which offers auto insurance on cars, motorcycles, boats and recreational vehicles — however, you must be a member in order to see rates and terms.

Roadside assistance provides free service five times a year (up to $100 per occurrence) for emergencies like flat tires, dead batteries or if you’re locked out of your vehicle. Annual prices vary by the number of covered drivers and vehicles:

  • $39 – One auto/any driver
  • $59 – All vehicles/member and spouse
  • $69 – All household vehicles and drivers

Note: It’s always a good idea to shop around to find the best insurance or roadside assistance rates and coverage. For example, Geico includes emergency roadside assistance in all of its policies, free.

Car servicing through Suncoast Credit Union

An extended warranty, also called a car service contract, is offered through Suncoast by ForeverCar at a special member rate — again, we do encourage you to shop around if you’d like one. Here are the questions you should ask about extended auto warranties.

CU Auto Branch also has a servicing department called the Credit Union Auto Center, located at 4002 Wedgemere Drive in Tampa. Anyone could be a customer; you don’t have to get a loan or buy a car through Suncoast, or even be a credit union member to be a client at Credit Union Auto Center. Its contact number is 813-336-4160.

Is an auto loan from Suncoast Credit Union worth it?

If you’re thinking about joining a credit union, Suncoast could be a good choice, particularly if you live within its service area. Suncoast Credit Union is Florida’s largest credit union with $4.93 billion in assets, and it just got bigger, with its December 2019 purchase of Miami-based Apollo Bank.

Credit union auto loan rates are nearly 2% below what national banks offer on average, according to the National Credit Union Association (NCUA). Even if you don’t meet Suncoast’s membership requirements, you might qualify for another regional or national credit union, including those with even lower auto loan rates.

Here are some additional pros and cons of financing through Suncoast:

Pros Cons
  • Competitive rates
  • Multiple ways to apply and pay
  • Car, motorcycle, boat and RV loans available
  • Increasing branch locations
  • Membership required and restricted to certain parts of Florida
  • No chat function on website

 

Regarding customer service, Suncoast Credit Union has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau though it is not accredited by BBB. Suncoast’s BBB entry showed 73 complaints as of press time, not all having to do with auto loans. It has no complaints on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database. The credit union promptly responded to complaints on the BBB website, but there are other ways to reach the bank by phone, through its website and app, though Suncoast does not have a chat function on its site.

A Suncoast Credit Union car loan might be best for:

  • Current members. Existing members may find it convenient to buy, borrow and insure their vehicle all through the same place they bank with.
  • Used-car buyers and those looking to refinance. Suncoast offers competitive rates on used and refinanced auto loans; perhaps competitive enough for non-members to pursue an application.

A Suncoast Credit Union car loan might not be best for:

  • New-car buyers with excellent credit. You may be able to qualify for zero- or low-rate loans from the car manufacturer.
 

Compare Auto Loan Offers