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San Diego County Credit Union auto loans review

If you're local to SoCal, get a no-frills car loan with competitive rates.

So much of American life revolves around cars. Aside from a few major metropolitan areas, you often can’t get around without one. It’s true that some people have the cash to throw down for a new car.
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Max. Loan Amount

Starting at 5.24%



Max. Loan Amount$30,000
APRStarting at 5.24%
Interest Rate TypeFixed
RequirementsA resident or employee in San Diego County, Riverside County or Orange County or immediate family or household member of a SDCCU member and employees of SDCCU Select Employer Groups.

First, do I qualify?

You must be a member of San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU) to qualify for its loans. To become a member, you must:

  • Live or work in San Diego County, Riverside County or Orange County.
  • Work at an SDCCU Select Employer.
  • Belong to the Financial Fitness Association.

If you qualify, simply complete SDCCU’s online application and open a Primary Savings account to get started on your auto loan application.

What makes SDCCU car loans unique?

SDCCU’s makes the process of buying and financing your car much simpler than other lenders — including credit unions. It has an optional car-buying service to help you find your car. And its AdvanceCheck option allows you to bring an actual check to the dealership after getting preapproved — so there’s no signing paperwork or extra back-and-forth with the lender.

What types of car loans does San Diego County Credit Union offer?

  • New car loans. Apply for fixed-rate term loans to finance your next set of wheels.
  • Used car loans. Take out a fixed-term rate loans to cover the cost of an older or refurbished vehicle.
  • Car refinancing. Trade in your current auto loan for a one with better rates and terms with SDCCU.
  • Motorcycle loans. New, used or off-road, fund your next two-wheeler with quick turnaround.

What rates can I expect from SDCCU?

The rates you get on your car loan depend on several factors, including the model year and terms. Here’s what you can expect from new and used cars.

TermStarting APR on 2015 model or newerStarting APR on 2009–2014 models
Up to 42 months3.15%5.15%
43–66 months3.65%5.65%
67–78 months4.15%Not available
79–84 months5.65%Not available

Compare more car loans you can apply for online today

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Name Product Filter Values Minimum credit score APR Loan term Requirements
PenFed Auto Loans
Starting at 5.19%
3 to 7 years
Active membership with PenFed
One of the largest national credit unions in the U.S., it offers new and used auto financing with transparent low rates.
Varies depending on the lender
3 to 6 years
Varies depending on the lender
No minimum credit score
3.9% to 27.9%
1 to 6 years
18+ years old, annual income of $4,000+, no active bankruptcies
Get pre-qualified for used car financing and receive competitive, personalized rates.

San Diego County Credit Union reviews and complaints

BBB accredited Yes
BBB rating A+
BBB customer reviews 1.27 out of 5 stars, based on 15 customer reviews
BBB customer complaints 54 customer complaints
Customer reviews verified as of 19 October 2020

What are the benefits of getting a car loan from SDCCU?

  • Minimal fees. With no application, origination or monthly fees, the only fee you face is for late payments. If you don’t make a late payment, you won’t be charged any fees.
  • Payment grace period. You may qualify for a 90-day grace period before you need to start making payments.
  • Tech savvy. Credit unions are notoriously low-tech, but SDCCU offers extensive online banking and a mobile app.
  • AdvanceCheck. All you have to do after getting preapproved is bring your check to the dealership.
  • Car-buying service. You can find your car and finance it through SDCCU.

What to watch out for

  • Limited availability. If you don’t live in Southern California, you’re likely not eligible for an SDCCU loan.
  • Emergencies can cost you. If you find yourself facing an emergency and unable to pay back your loan, some customers complain SDCCU isn’t as willing to work with you as some other financial institutions.
  • Higher rates for older cars. You might not be able to save as much by buying an older model if you finance with this lender.
  • Longer terms can be expensive. Not only will there be more time for interest to add up — you’ll also pay a higher rate.

Branch locations

How do I apply?

The loan application itself is simple, but you must first

  1. Become a member of SDCCU. Apply online if you live or work in San Diego County, Riverside County or Orange County; work for an approved SDCCU employer; or be a Financial Fitness Association member.
  2. Get a contract for your vehicle from a dealership. You’re on your own when it comes to researching vehicles and dealerships. Once there, tell the dealership that you’re financing with SDCCU. They should give you a contract, which SDCCU uses to determine your loan amount, rates and terms.

With these two steps in order, you’re ready to apply online.

  1. Go to SDCCU’s auto loans page and click Apply for a Loan.
    SDCCU apply screen image, step one.
  2. In the pop-up, indicate that you’re an SDCCU member and select the loan you’re applying for. Then click Go.
    SDCCU apply screen image, step two
  3. Set up an online account, if you haven’t already.
  4. Complete the application by filling in your personal information.
  5. An SDCCU employee will call you to discuss your options.

What documents will I need to apply?

To become a member of the SDCCU, you must provide

  • A government-issued ID.
  • Your Social Security number.

When applying for a loan, you’re typically required to submit

  • Proof of SDCCU membership.
  • Your car contract from the dealership.
  • Your driver’s license.
  • Employment verification, including pay stubs and tax forms.

I got my auto loan from SDCCU. Now what?

Consider setting up autopay through your SDCCU online account to avoid late or missed payments.

If you run into personal or financial problems that affect your ability to repay your loan, keep SDCCU in the loop as soon as you can. It may be willing to adjust your loan’s terms to meet your needs.

More about SDCCU

Like all credit unions, SDCCU is member-owned. In fact, it’s the largest locally-owned financial institution in San Diego with over 350,000 members and more than $8.1 billion in assets. Because there are no shareholders dictating policy, SDCCU uses any profits from fees and interest to run the institution and fund loans.

This can lead to lower rates for you and a credit union that has a more forgiving stance on low credit scores. It was voted the best car loan provider by readers of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Bottom line

You won’t find anything out of the ordinary with SDCCU, and that’s a good thing. Its above-board policies mean you know exactly what you’re getting. Its lower rates are a plus. But if you don’t live in Southern California, you still have many options when it comes to a car loan. Compare the rates and terms you’re eligible for before settling on a lender.

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