Skip to content

Best Credit Unions for Car Loans

PenFed is the best overall credit union for car loans for its competitive rates

We recommend the best products through an independent review process, and advertisers do not influence our picks. We may receive compensation if you visit partners we recommend. Read our advertiser disclosure for more info.

A credit union is a not-for-profit financial organization similar to a bank in that it offers banking services such as credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, and various types of loans, including auto loans.

Most credit unions can provide better rates on loans than banks because they operate as a not-for-profit, and they answer to their members versus their shareholders. The best credit unions for car loans are reputable, have been around for a while, offer competitive rates and low fees, plus other financial services to their customers. If you are shopping for a car, consider a credit union for your best route to a loan.

Best Credit Unions for Car Loans of 2023

Best Overall : PenFed

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

  • Starting interest rate: 4.89%
  • Terms: 36-84 months
  • Loan amounts: $500-$150,000
  • Membership requirements: $5 deposit
Why We Chose It

PenFed offers competitive rates and robust financing tools and features, and it is easy to join.

Pros & Cons
  • Simple to join

  • Calculators and rate comparison tools

  • Easy-to-use website

  • Must be a member to access products

  • Majority of branches are in Washington D.C.-area


Also known as PenFed, Pentagon Federal Credit Union serves people in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., Guam, and Okinawa, Japan. However, most of its branches are concentrated in the greater Washington D.C.-area. The rest of its customers are served digitally, and services include banking products and services, credit cards, car loans, mortgages, and home equity loans.

PenFed was created to serve military members, veterans, and federal employees, but it is now open to anyone, and for $5, you can join by simply opening a savings account. You can finance a new or used car or refinance a current auto loan with PenFed. The credit union also has a car-buying service that helps you search for cars from a trusted network and offers discounted rates if you use the service.

As of March 2023, discounted rates start at 4.89% for new cars for 36 months. Used cars with terms of 36 months start at 5.54% through PenFed’s partnership with TrueCar. PenFed offers many educational resources and step-by-step guides for first-time car and home buyers, financial calculators, mortgage knowledge, an advice center, and a financial hardship center.

PenFed offers perks to its members, including discounts on insurance, discounts on rental cars, and mechanical breakdown protection. It also offers discounts at select retail stores and some tax preparation services.

Best for Bad Credit : Consumers Credit Union

Consumers Credit Union

 Consumers Credit Union

  • Starting interest rate: 5.24%
  • Terms: Up to 84 months
  • Loan amounts: Varies
  • Membership requirements: $5 deposit and pay $5 to their sponsor
Why We Chose It

Consumers Credit Union is easy to join, offers nationwide services, and works with people with bad credit and rebuilding their credit.

Pros & Cons
  • Loans up to 84 months

  • Nationwide coverage

  • Offers loans to people without good credit

  • Rates not as competitive

  • Need strong credit scores for best rates


Consumers Credit Union has physical branches throughout northeast Illinois but services the entire country and is open to members nationwide. It specializes in helping consumers take charge of their finances and works with them to rebuild their credit and improve their credit scores. It's an ideal place to start if you want to get a car loan but don't have good credit. 

The company offers auto loans, home loans, home equity loans, personal loans, business services, and a full range of banking products and services. 

Anyone can join the credit union by paying $5 to become a member of the Consumers Cooperative Association as well as depositing $5 in a savings account. The website is well laid out and easy to navigate and goes into detail on applying for membership and then applying for a car loan. It offers an online car-buying service that claims to save you money and will deliver the car to your home.

As of March 2023, Consumers Credit Union's car loan rates start at 5.24% for up to 60 months for cars manufactured in 2021 or newer. Older vehicles and longer loan terms will increase the interest rates. Lower credit scores will also receive higher rates. You can apply for a car loan online with the step-by-step guide, and then an agent will call you to verify your details.

Best for Competitive Rates : Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Starting interest rate: 4.54%
  • Terms: Up to 96 months
  • Loan amounts: Varies
  • Membership requirements: $5 deposit and familial ties to the U.S. military
Why We Chose It

Navy Federal Credit Union is known for offering competitive rates to its members who want to purchase a car, and it offers deeper discounts for active and retired military members.

Pros & Cons
  • Competitive rates with extra discounts

  • ATMs throughout the country

  • Overall positive customer reviews

  • Strict membership requirements

  • Website could be more organized

  • May be hard to qualify


Navy Federal Credit Union offers banking services for whichever way you want to bank, including branches, ATMs, co-op locations throughout the country, and an app. In addition to new and used car loans, it offers loans on motorcycles, boats, and recreational vehicles.

Navy Federal Credit Union offers some of the lowest rates in the industry to its members. As of March 2023, rates start at 4.54% for new and late-model used vehicles up to 36 months. Rates, of course, go up for longer terms. Terms for used cars go up to 72 months, and terms for new vehicles go up to 96 months. 

Although there are numerous resources and low rates offered by Navy Federal Credit Union, you do have to meet the membership requirements to take advantage of them. Membership is limited to the armed forces, the Department of Defense, veterans, and qualifying family members. Full membership details are listed on the website.

Easiest to Join : NASA Federal Credit Union

NASA Federal Credit Union

NASA Federal Credit Union

  • Starting interest rate: 4.89%
  • Terms: Up to 84 months
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$125,000
  • Membership requirements: Current or retired NASA employee, or join the NSS, first year is free then $47 per year with auto renew
Why We Chose It

NASA Federal Credit Union may have an intimidating name, but it has easy membership requirements, competitive rates, and some great member perks. 

Pros & Cons
  • No payments for the first 60 days

  • Nationwide coverage

  • First year is complimentary

  • Only offers branches in the D.C. area

  • Lower rates only available for shorter term loans

  • Membership is $47 a year with auto renew,(after first year)


NASA Federal Credit Union is open to NASA employees, NASA retirees, and their family members. However, you don’t have to be a world-class scientist to enjoy membership. It also offers membership to non-employees who join the National Space Society, and the first year is complimentary. After that, your membership will cost $47 a year with automatic renewal. Membership includes their magazine, the latest information on space news, and invitations to conferences and events. 

NASA Federal Credit Union offers new and used auto loans and recreational vehicle loans. As of February 2023, auto loan rates start at 4.89%, and although no payment is due for the first 60 days, interest does accrue. The lowest rates have terms of up to 36 months. Longer terms of up to 84 months are available, but the rates do increase. You can apply online in a few minutes. You can also reach customer service through email, online chat, and phone.

NASA Federal Credit Union has multiple branches in Maryland and Virginia, near the Washington D.C-area, and shared branches at affiliated credit unions. However, the majority of its services are offered online, including digital baking, student loans, credit cards, personal loans, financial planning services, and car loans.

Best for Fast Approvals : Alliant Credit Union

Alliant logo

Alliant logo

  • Starting interest rate: 5.75%
  • Terms: Up to 84 months
  • Loan amounts: Varies
  • Membership requirements: Employment or residency restrictions or a $5 donation 
Why We Chose It

Alliant Credit Union offers same-day car loan approvals, low rates, and good customer service. 

Pros & Cons
  • Same day approvals in most cases

  • No prepayment penalties

  • Offers financing for new and used vehicles

  • Online only (no branches)

  • No online chat option

  • Longer the loan, higher your rate


Alliant Credit Union is an online credit union based in the Chicago, Illinois area. It’s the largest credit union in Illinois and one of the biggest in the nation. However, it doesn’t have physical branch locations and instead offers online and over-the-phone banking and loan services. It prides itself on putting its members first, offering personal customer service, competitive rates, and fast loan-approval times.

To join Alliant Credit Union, you can meet certain residency, employment, or relationship requirements, or you can just donate $5 to its partner charity, Foster Care to Success.

In addition to car loans, Alliant Credit Union offers online banking services, IRAs, trust accounts, credit cards, home loans, commercial real estate loans, and more. It has a unique car-buying service that offers 0.50% off your rate for using it to purchase your next car. It also helps you with car research, lists cars from its trusted network, and offers a vehicle service program and loans for recreational vehicles.

Alliant Credit Union offers financing for both new and used vehicles. Its rates, as of February 2023, start at 5.75% for new cars for 60 months and 6.12% for used cars. These rates will be 0.4% higher without autopay. Car loans can be up to 84 months with presumably higher rates. You can apply online or over the phone, and approval is usually done on the same day. The approval process is easy, with detailed instructions on the website.

Best for Green Vehicles : Suncoast Credit Union

Suncoast Credit Union

Suncoast Credit Union

  • Starting interest rate: 6.0% and 5.75% for hybrid, EV, etc.
  • Terms: Up to 72 months
  • Loan amounts: Varies
  • Membership requirements: Residency or employment restrictions
Why We Chose It

Suncoast Credit Union offers low rates to its members who are financing green cars. It also offers helpful financing tools and friendly customer service. 

Pros & Cons
  • Rates starting at 5.75% for green cars

  • Offers additional resources including webinars

  • Easy-to-use website

  • Strict membership requirements

  • Only serves part of Florida

  • Green vehicles get the lowest rates


Suncoast Credit Union is Florida’s largest credit union and has branches throughout Florida’s west coast. In addition to car loans, it offers personal loans, mortgages, complete banking services, and financial tools. It has an easy-to-use website with a lot of consumer educational material, financial calculators, webinars, and how-to blogs. 

As of March 2023, Suncoast Credit Union’s auto loan rates start at 6.0% for new and used vehicles and 5.75% for eco-friendly ones. You can also get financing for watercraft, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and cars. Max terms are usually 72 months for cars.

Vehicles that qualify for the lowest rate include hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles.

To join Suncoast Credit Union, you must meet its membership requirements: You must live, work, attend school, or worship in one of the counties in the Southwest and the West Coast of Florida that it serves. It does require proof, such as a utility bill or a signed lease.

Final Verdict

We reviewed several reputable credit unions all over the country. Overall we recommend checking out Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) due to its positive overall reviews, flexible repayment terms, and competitive interest rates. PenFed offers digital tools such as loan calculators, and step-by-step guides for loans, plus you can join the credit union by simply opening a $5 savings account.

Compare the Best Credit Unions for Car Loans

Company Starting Interest Rate Terms Loan Amounts Membership Requirements
Pentagon Federal Credit Union Best Overall 4.89% 36–84 months $500-$150,000 $5 deposit
Consumers Credit Union Best for Bad Credit 5.24% Up to 84 months Varies $5 deposit and $5 fee to their sponsor
Navy Federal Credit Union Best for Competitive Rates 4.54% Up to 96 months Varies  $5 deposit and familial ties to the U.S. military 
NASA Federal Credit Union Easiest to Join 4.89% Up to 84 months $5,000–$125,000  $47 per year membership to NSS with auto renew (first year is free) or work for NASA or a partner company
Alliant Credit Union Best for Fast Approvals 5.75% Up to 84 months Varies Employment or residency restrictions or a $5 donation 
Suncoast Credit Union Best for Green Vehicles 5.75% for green vehicles, otherwise 6.0% Up to 72 months Varies Residency or employment restrictions 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is It Better to Finance a Car Through a Credit Union or a Bank?

    If you already belong to a credit union, it is probably the best place to start shopping for a car loan because you will likely be offered better rates and terms than a traditional bank or car dealership. If your credit is less than stellar, but you are already a credit union member, you may be able to get a loan still, as well. In addition, you should use a credit union for a car loan for the following reasons:

    • More competitive interest rates (typically)
    • Lower fees
    • May finance lower-priced cars
    • Member perks
    • Less haggling than with a dealership

  • What Is a Good Credit Score for a Car Loan at a Credit Union?

    There isn’t a minimum credit score that all credit unions require for auto loans. It depends on the credit union, the type and age of the car, plus the borrower’s other qualifications, such as employment history and income. The higher your credit score, the lower your rate will generally be. Typically, a credit score over 720 will give borrowers the best rates.

  • What Is the Best Way to Finance a Car?

    The best way to finance a car depends on your circumstance, but generally speaking, an auto loan from a credit union is one of the best ways to finance a car because of its lower rates and terms as compared to some traditional banks.

  • Is It Harder To Get a Loan From a Credit Union?

    No, usually, it is easier to get a loan from a credit union than a traditional bank, especially if you are already a credit union member.


We reviewed a dozen credit unions for car loans before carefully selecting our top picks. We chose reputable companies that offer car loans, additional features, and banking services. We selected a variety of credit unions with different membership requirements and also considered interest rates, member perks, locations served, types of cars financed, and borrower requirements.

Credit Union

sshepard / Getty Images

Article Sources
  1. PenFed Credit Union. "Auto Loans."

  2. PenFed Credit Union. "Explore Great Rates on All Types of Auto Loans."

  3. PenFed Credit Union. "Used Auto Loans."

  4. PenFed Credit Union. "PenFed Membership."

  5. LinkedIn. "PenFed Credit Union."

  6. Consumers Credit Union. "Make Your Dream Car a Reality With a Low Interest Loan."

  7. Consumers Credit Union. "Membership."

  8. Consumers Credit Union. "Membership."

  9. Consumers Credit Union. "Rates."

  10. Navy Federal Credit Union. "New and Used Auto Loans."

  11. Navy Federal Credit Union. "Membership Eligibility."

  12. Navy Federal Credit Union. "New and Used Auto Loans."

  13. Navy Federal Credit Union. "Membership Eligibility."

  14. NASA Federal Credit Union. "Out-of-This-World Auto Loan Rates."

  15. National Space Society. "Orbital Digital Memberships."

  16. NASA Federal Credit Union. "New Membership Application."

  17. NASA Federal Credit Union. "New Membership Application."

  18. National Space Society. "Orbital Digital Memberships."

  19. NASA Federal Credit Union. "Auto Loans That Make You Smile."

  20. Alliant Credit Union. "A Credit Union Car Loan That Puts You in the Driver’s Seat."

  21. Alliant Credit Union. "Who Is Eligible to Join Alliant?"

  22. Alliant Credit Union. "A Financial Institution Created by Members, for Members."

  23. Alliant Credit Union. "A Credit Union Car Loan That Puts You in the Driver’s Seat."

  24. Suncoast Credit Union. "Vehicle Loans."

  25. Suncoast Credit Union. "Suncoast Truly Cares."

  26. Suncoast Credit Union. "Vehicle Loans."

  27. "720 Credit Score: Is it Good or Bad?"

Related Articles