04 January 2011

Helping Members Make Better Purchase Decisions

I've spent the past several weeks researching cars on the internet. I've used Edmunds.com and consumerreports.org quite a bit. I've also spent quite a bit of time searching Honda, Toyota, Ford, Jeep, and Nissan corporate sites. I guess I'm a cheapskate, but I want to make sure that I make the best purchase decision for my budget and family's lifestyle.

I'm a member of two credit unions and spend most of my waking hours writing/thinking/talking/researching about the industry. As much as credit unions depend on auto loans, why isn't my credit union's website the first place I'd go for unbiased buying advice?


Carla said...

Good point indeed.

Some credit unions do offer auto buying research. Here are a couple examples:



Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@Carla My favorite part about Edmunds.com is the Forum section. There, I get unbiased information/reviews/buying experience from people just like me. If credit unions want to get more auto loans, they need to provide members with something they can't get from traditional sites: buying advice with their best interests in mind. I want to know what dealership to go to get the best price, which model will keep its value longest, which one will fit two car seats and two adults comfortably without breaking the bank, which car in my price range drives best in snow, etc. In short, being car loan experts may mean a world more if we become car experts as well.

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@Carla Also, we should do some quality control on such offerings... Look at the results I get when I compare three vehicles: http://bit.ly/fJifRu

(But I repeat myself) :)

Sara Dyer said...

I think I'd rather my CU be a resource for me to find an expert. I don't want them to know everything about cars, I want them to know everything about what they do. However, I would want to be able to go to my CU's website and under the auto loan rates, see links to trusted dealers/salespeople. That 'seal of approval' would get me to contact that expert in their field and find out more and probably not rate shop as much when the time came to get a loan.

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@Sara Solid recommendation. Still, I can't help but think there's value in having an onsite (or on website) way of getting guidance from your credit union. Heck, if credit unions become car experts (or have a car expert on staff), think about what that means for underwriting. Wouldn't it be interesting to price loans based on the future value of collateral? For the cars that hold the most value for the longest, maybe credit unions can offer an even better rate (they're protected by the collateral longer, after all). More importantly, the credit union could make better pre-owned auto loan decisions.

Just a thought.

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@Sara A credit union here in North Carolina (Truliant) created an Auto Buying Service that helps members get good deals on vehicles and streamlines the purchase process. It's not for everyone, but it has a really nice CarMax vibe to it.

Anonymous said...

Coastal FCU in NC has a link to CUDL's AutoSMART website in their "Auto Loans" section, where you can do research and shop for vehicles online. The site is from JD Power, so it is pretty unbiased information. http://www.cudlautosmart.com/asentry.aspx?cucode=3663
There's also an AutoSMART iPhone App available to download.

Tim McApine said...

I'm with Sara - credit union professionals are already spread too thin. It would be pretty tough for a small credit union to provide the depth of an Edmunds or a Consumer Reports or create an active forum that had any real value. I think that whatever a credit union does should be 100% - nothing half way.

Speaking of your research, I assume with all of your time spent on the subject you've also bookmarked this post?


Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@Tim The Honda Element was actually on my list (but for other reasons...I swear).

I don't think the suggestion is to become Edmunds, necessarily. But why not document information that will help guide members into better purchase decisions? It could be as simple as a blog created to celebrate loans originated through the credit unions. Let members share their stories about the purchase decision, and encourage them to give future updates on their purchase choice.

Alternatively, credit unions could link to Edmunds, provide access to Consumer Reports, make sure the next loan officer hired is a car geek...there are plenty of ways to be a better resource for members without stretching a credit union any thinner at all.

Christopher Byrd said...

I think you have a very good point. Credit Unions should always look for "outside the bank box" ways to help their members be more financially fit. Personally, when a member comes to seem to get an auto loan and the sale price is too high, I always take the time to help them find a better deal.