Golden 1 Credit Union auto loans review: Save when you use preferred dealer network or buy a used Enterprise rental car

Smiling bearded man sits in his truck that he bought with a golden 1 auto loanImage: Smiling bearded man sits in his truck that he bought with a golden 1 auto loan

In a Nutshell

Golden 1 Credit Union offers its members a number of auto loan options, including special financing at certain dealerships and select Enterprise Car Sales locations. But to apply for an auto loan, you’ll need to live or work in California or meet other eligibility requirements.

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Pros Cons
Flexible terms for new, used and refinance auto loans Must live or work in California, or be related to a California resident
Discount auto-buying programs Must bank with Golden 1 to be able to apply
Preapproval option  

What you need to know about Golden 1 auto loans

Founded in 1933, Golden 1 Credit Union is one of the largest credit unions in the U.S. The not-for-profit financial cooperative, which is based in Sacramento, has more than 70 branches across California and serves more than 1 million members.

The credit union offers multiple auto loan options from new- and used-car financing to car loan refinancing and lease buyout options. But you must meet strict eligibility requirements to apply.

Here are some more things to know about Golden 1 Credit Union.

1. You must be a Golden 1 Credit Union member

You must meet at least one of the following requirements to become a member:

  • You live or work in California
  • You’re a family member or domestic partner of a current member
  • You belong to one of Golden 1’s select employee groups

2. There’s a variety of loan options

If you’re a member, you can apply for a range of Golden 1’s auto finance options, including …

  • New-car loans
  • Used-car loans
  • Lease buyout
  • Auto refinancing
  • Private party auto loan
  • Specialty vehicle loans for new and used boats, RVs, new motorcycles, jet skis and all-terrain vehicles

If approved, you might get up to 100% financing for new and pre-owned autos, RVs and motorcycles, depending on your credit health.

3. You’ll have hassle-free, discounted buying options

If haggling for the best price on your car isn’t your thing, you may want to consider Golden 1’s Discount Auto Buying™ program.

Designed to help you lock in prearranged pricing, Golden 1 offers dedicated specialists who will assist you by researching cars at participating dealerships. The auto-buying program shows you available car makes and models online, along with a fixed price.

This can help make your car-buying process smoother, but remember that to get the best price, it’s a good idea to comparison shop.

4. You can buy a rental for less

If you’re looking for a gently used car at a competitive price, consider Golden 1’s partnership with Enterprise Car Sales.

Through the credit union, you can select from more than 250 car makes and models across California, and you may be able to qualify for a 1% APR discount off your auto loan rate. Plus, you can trade in your current car for an even lower monthly payment.

A closer look at Golden 1 Credit Union auto loans

If you’re trying to decide if an auto loan from Golden 1 Credit Union is right for you, here are a few more things to consider.

  • If you apply for preapproval, Golden 1 Credit Union typically delivers a decision on the same day. And the credit union says your interest rate is guaranteed for 30 days.
  • You can use your loan to buy your next vehicle from a dealer or private party.
  • You can use Golden 1’s auto loan calculator to estimate your monthly payments. Keep in mind your final payment amounts may differ from what you see on this calculator.
  • Golden 1 auto loans can be used to finance vehicles purchased through a dealer or private party.
  • You can make payments toward your auto loan in person, online or over the phone. You can also set up automatic deductions from your paycheck or Golden 1 Credit Union checking account.
  • Your payment due date can be changed depending on your loan type, but you’ll have to complete and sign a Revision Agreement form and then return it by mail or to a branch.
  • Paying off your auto loan early won’t come with extra fees.
  • If you’re having financial difficulties, you can defer up to two payments over the life of the loan through Golden 1’s Skip-a-Payment program. There are a few things to keep in mind, though. You can postpone only one payment in an 18-month cycle, and open-end loans are not eligible for this program. If you choose to defer a payment, interest will continue to accrue on the amount you owe, so it will increase the total cost of the loan.

Is a Golden 1 Credit Union auto loan the right fit for you?

A Golden 1 auto loan may be worth considering as an option if you live or work in California. It could also be the right fit if you prefer to apply for prequalification before formally applying for an auto loan. If you’re thinking of buying a rental car, Golden 1’s partnership with Enterprise may also be appealing.

But if you aren’t already a Golden 1 Credit Union member or don’t qualify for membership, you’ll need to consider other auto lenders.

How to apply for a Golden 1 auto loan

Applying for an auto loan is simple as a member of Golden 1 Credit Union. Either apply through the credit union’s website or with a participating dealership.

If you’re not currently a member, you’ll be prompted to apply for membership first, then for the loan.

You’ll be prompted to sign up for the required savings account with a minimum starting deposit of $1. You’ll also have the option to add other accounts, including a checking, additional savings or “Santa Saver” account.

To complete your application, you’ll need to provide some personal information, including your Social Security number, address, government-issued ID number, and email.

Typically, you’ll receive a decision the same day you apply for preapproval, and you can take your preapproval offer to a dealer. After settling on your purchase price, you’ll need to send Golden 1 Credit Union your purchase agreement in order for it to consider approving you for the auto loan.

Auto loan alternatives to consider

If you aren’t sure if an auto loan from Golden 1 Credit Union is right for you — or you don’t qualify for membership — here are some other lenders to consider.

  • Wells Fargo auto loan: Wells Fargo might be worth considering if you’re looking to skip the down payment and still choose from a number of loan options.
  • Capital One Auto Finance: Capital One Auto Finance loans may be an option if you don’t want to deal with too many buying options and would prefer buying a car at one of the company’s participating dealerships — while still keeping the ability to apply for prequalification.

About the author: Sarah Archambault is a freelance writer based in New England. She enjoys learning new ways to spend money wisely and helping others figure out how to make smart financial decisions. Sara… Read more.