Financial Scoops

Financial Scoop

Whether you're looking for tips to negotiate your best deal when buying a car or for protecting yourself from identity theft, our Financial Scoops will help you navigate these financial situations and more. Choose from the list below to learn about these and other timely topics. Be sure to revisit this page again for new Scoops. We're here to help you stay informed and make decisions in your best interest.


Financing your car with your credit union vs the dealership.

Financing your car with your credit union vs the dealership.

Credit unions are recognized for their low auto loan rates and are experts when it comes to financing. Car dealerships are the experts in selling cars. Credit unions have no vested interest in the price of the vehicle and can focus on helping you obtain a loan at the lowest possible rate.

You may be able to write off your auto loan interest. Unlike a dealer, some credit unions offer tax advantage auto loans that may have tax benefits (for qualifying members; consult your tax advisor).

Get pre-approved online.* You can apply at any time at calcoastcu.org.

Manage your loan online. Making payments and reviewing your statements are easy through online banking.

You'll always be able to speak with a credit union employee in person. Most dealership finance companies do not have local offices.

Enjoy periodic 'skip a payment' promotions.

We often give eligible members an opportunity to skip a payment during the year and put a little extra cash in their pocket.

Extra protection for the unexpected

Credit unions like California Coast offer protection on your auto and loan in the event the unexpected occurs. Dealerships may offer similar products to protect your vehicle such as Guaranteed Asset Protection and Mechanical Repair Coverage but typically at a much higher cost.

Dealerships do not offer protection that covers stressful life events such as disability or unemployment. We do. California Coast Guard Plus is affordable and gives you peace of mind.

At California Coast, we're caring advocates for our members and have your best interest. To ensure you're getting the 'best deal', contact us and get pre-approved before you go shopping for your next car. Simply give us a call at (877) 495-1600.

Already financed at a dealership? Yes, You can refinance a dealership loan and we often have better rates!

* Loans subject to approval.

How to negotiate your best deal.

How to negotiate your best deal.

Negotiate your car purchase with confidence!

Buying a car often involves two transactions—finding the right car at the right price (the purchasing) and finding the right loan (the financing).

Find out what you want to spend before you get to the dealer. Dealers often ask "what do you want your monthly payment to be?" Don't wait to get to the dealer to think about your answer.

Get your loan pre-approved. We can help you determine an affordable loan amount, your best interest rate and term that will give you your desired monthly payment. By doing this before you shop, you'll know how much you want to pay for the car and can focus on negotiating your best price instead of spending time negotiating the financing.

Know a fair price for your car purchase and trade-in before you shop. A little online research will offer you a big payoff when you're at the dealership. Knowing the blue book value of the car you want to purchase and the value of your trade-in will make your negotiations easier. There are lots of websites to help you, some even let you build your car. Here are a couple of our favorites.

  • edmonds.com (find out what others paid for the car you want)
  • auto-broker-magic.com (lots of negotiation secrets, trade-in value and more!)

Take advantage of manufacturers' rebates. When given the opportunity, take the rebate as this will reduce the price of the car and the amount of your loan. Dealers don't always advertise rebates. Find out if the vehicle you want has a rebate offer by checking the manufacturer's website.

Go shopping. If you're pre-approved, there's no need to negotiate financing at the dealership. If you're offered a different financing option, be sure to compare the interest rate and term and not be swayed by a lower monthly payment.

Use our Auto Buying Service as your personal car shopper. If you don't have the time to visit a car dealership, call our auto buying service at (800) 748-5747. California Coast works with New Cars Inc., and they'll find the car for you. Simply tell them the make and model of the car you're looking for, and they'll deliver it to you!

At California Coast, we're caring advocates for our members and have your best interest. To ensure you're getting the 'best deal', contact us and get pre-approved before you go shopping for your next car. Simply give us a call at (877) 495-1600.

Already financed at a dealership? Yes, you can refinance a dealership loan and we often have better rates!

"Your Best Deal" Checklist

Research the car

  • Decide on the car you want to buy
  • Make a list of options you want in your new car
  • Check the blue book value of the car you want and the trade-in value of your old car

Get your loan pre-approved

  • Call California Coast Credit Union (877) 495-1600 or visit calcoastcu.org
  • Let us calculate a few monthly payment scenarios for you

Go shopping or call New Cars Inc. (800) 748-5747

  • Negotiate your best deal
  • Get a special discount with our Weekly Auto Specials

Enjoy your new car!

Loans subject to approval. California Coast Credit Union does not endorse or encourage you to purchase the product or services. California Coast Credit Union strongly urges you to do your own due diligence on the vendor and its product/service.

How debit cards work.

How debit cards work.

Safe and Convenient

Debit cards are a safe and convenient way to get cash at an ATM and make purchases. The funds are deducted from your checking account so you don't pay interest and won't get a 'bill' in the mail.

Use it instead of writing a check. Make purchases at any store displaying the MasterCard symbol. Simply swipe it like a credit card and choose 'credit', sign the receipt and you're done!

By choosing 'credit' (signing) v. 'debit' (PIN), you'll have Zero Liability,* an extra layer of protection provided by the MasterCard network which means you won't be liable for unauthorized purchases that you promptly report.

Get cash. You can use your California Coast debit card at any one of thousands of ATMs worldwide including 30,000 fee-free California Coast or CO-OP® ATMs and any bearing the MasterCard®, Maestro®, Cirrus®, or PULSE® Network logos.

Pay your bills. Pay one-time or recurring bills such as utilities, gym membership and cell phone. Use your debit card number to set up the process with the merchant or provider.

California Coast's Platinum Debit MasterCard® comes free with our checking accounts and is a fast and safe way to get cash or make purchases. Simply use it at any California Coast or CO-OP ATM to get cash or swipe it at a store.

Don't have a Platinum Debit MasterCard? Give us a call (877) 495-1600 or stop by a branch.

*Does not apply to PIN based transactions, unauthorized purchases must be reported promptly

How to protect yourself from financial scams

How to protect yourself from financial scams

You've probably heard news stories about various scams involving criminals who contact their victims via the mail, online or phone.

If it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Most scams involve sending you a check or money order in exchange for work to be done or to claim a prize and request that you deposit the check/money order into your account and wire funds back to the sender through Western Union or your financial institution.

In these situations, you're depositing their bad check into your good account and, typically, you'll wire the funds back to them before their check bounces and are liable for the amount that was wired from your account.

For example, your account has a $1,000 balance, you deposit a criminal's $500 check/money order bringing your balance up to $1,500. You then wire the $500 back to them leaving you with your original $1,000 balance. However, when their bad check is returned, your account is deducted another $500 for the returned deposit amount leaving you with $500.

Other scams involve phone calls from individuals saying they're calling on behalf of a family member who needs money to get out of trouble. Again, asking you to send money.

More common scams

If you can answer "yes" to any of the following, you may be a victim of fraud and about to be scammed.

Placed your resume online and received a request to become a secret shopper, administrative worker or a personal assistant for a company or private individual. You receive checks or money orders as payment and are instructed to deposit to your account, keep a percentage and wire the rest through Western Union.

Received a letter for an unclaimed settlement, but in order to receive the settlement, you must pay a processing fee. You then receive a check/money order and are instructed to deposit the check and wire the listed amount for the processing fee.

Received check or money order for an item you sold on the Internet such as a car, boat, jewelry, for more than the selling price.

Received check or money order drawn on a business's or individual's account that is different from the person buying your item or product sold online.

Informed that you were the winner of a lottery that you did not enter, such as a Canadian, Australian, El Gordo, or El Mundo.

Instructed to wire, send or ship money as soon as possible to a large U.S. city or another country.

Asked to pay money to receive a deposit from another country.

Responded to an email requesting you to confirm, update or provide your account information.

If you suspect your California Coast account has been compromised, please contact us immediately at (877) 495-1600 so we can close the account and open a new one for you.

How to calculate your monthly auto payment.

How to calculate your monthly auto payment.

Knowing how to calculate a monthly car payment helps you determine how much you want to spend each month and puts you in a better negotiating position when purchasing a car. It can also help you determine if it's a good time to refinance your current auto loan for a lower monthly payment.

Most ads for auto loans promote a rate and term only leaving it up to you to calculate a monthly payment.

There are many online tools to help you do the math and you can also do it the old fashioned way by hand or calculator. Regardless of your calculation method, the first thing you'll want to determine is the total amount you'll finance. Be sure to include any tax, license fees, or loan protection product costs.

Once you have the total loan amount...

If you're using an online calculator simply input the total loan amount, the desired length of time (usually months) and interest rate. The calculator will do the math for you. Online calculators are great as you can input different loan amounts, periods of time and rates quickly and easily. We have calculators on our website - calcoastcu.org

If you don't have access to an online calculator, find the price per $1,000 borrowed for the time period or term. Regulations require advertisements and other marketing materials promoting a rate and term to include this information in the disclosure or fine print. Simply multiply the price per $1,000 by the total loan amount in thousands.

      Price per $1,000       $17.87
      Loan Amount ($15,500)   $15.50
      ----------------------------------------------------
                               $276.98/month

Don't forget to check the term or period of time associated with an advertised rate. Most often the lowest rate advertised is for a short term which doesn't always equate to a reasonable monthly payment for a vehicle purchase; however, it may be a good deal if you're refinancing a current auto loan. To get a lower monthly payment, you may have to go a longer period of time at a different rate than what was promoted/advertised.

Remember, our friendly California Coast staff is available to help you determine the best loan and monthly payment for you. Give us a call (877) 495-1600 or stop by a branch.

Understanding your credit score.

Understanding your credit score.

Have you ever wondered how you can get pre-approved for a loan without ever stepping foot in a branch? Or, how your neighbor got a better (or worse) interest rate on their mortgage than you did? The answer to both of these questions may have to do with your credit score.

If you're unsure about what factors determine a good or bad credit score, you're not alone. Here's what you need to know -

Your credit score is a number which is generated by assessing your financial profile in five specific categories and then using a mathematical formula to calculate your credit worthiness. The five categories which are used to determine your credit score are -

  • Payment history
  • How much you owe when compared to your available credit
  • Length of credit history
  • Mix of credit
  • New credit - inquiries and credit accrued in a short time frame

Payment history

This one category comprises the largest percentage of your credit score and is by far the most important factor in determining your credit worthiness. Paying all your bills on time or before they are due is the best way to ensure that you score high in this category.

How much you owe when compared to your available credit

This is the second most important factor in determining your credit worthiness. The amount of money you owe on credit cards, car loans, mortgages, home equity lines of credit and other loans in relation to the amount of credit you have available indicates to a prospective creditor how likely you are to incur additional debt and manage it.

Generally speaking, the lower your credit balances and the more sparingly you use credit, the higher your score.

Length of credit history

Although not weighted as heavily as the previous categories, the length of time which you've had credit and the more history you have had with a particular creditor, the higher your score in this area.

Mix of credit

Different kinds of loans are measured differently; for instance, a mortgage or car loan is not weighted the same way as revolving credit such as credit cards.

Typically, the best credit score will be one that consists of a variety of loan types - secured and unsecured - because it indicates to a prospective creditor that you are responsible and can handle money.

New credit

The bureaus track two years of application history, and applying too often affects your score. Adding debt in a short time frame also affects your score.

Check your credit report regularly

As you might imagine, credit scores are not an exact science because they rely in large part on the accuracy of the information found in your credit report. This is why it’s important for you to check your credit report for accuracy at least once a year and within three to six months before you make a major purchase such as a car or a home.

You can get a free copy once a year from each of the three credit bureaus -

If you discover any discrepancies in your credit report, report them right away to both the original creditor and the bureaus.

Remember, California Coast is here to help you understand and optimize the power of your credit score. Give us a call at (877) 495-1600 or stop by a branch.

Protecting yourself from identity theft

Protecting yourself from identity theft

Identity theft occurs when personal information such as your Social Security Number or driver's license number is obtained and used by an impostor.

Thieves can obtain your information by means of stealing your wallet, your mail, phishing, computer scams or viruses or confiscating documents found in your trash.

Here's what you need to know to protect yourself

Phishing/Vishing

Fraudsters may pose as a trusted financial institution, ATM/debit network, online retailer or other service provider to trick you into disclosing private information. Some tactics include an unsolicited email or phone call asking for personal and financial information.

Pharming

Pharming uses computer software such as crimeware, malware or spyware to collect personal information from your computer and deliver it to fraudsters. When you log-on to a legitimate site, the software redirects you to an authentic-looking, bogus site and captures your personal log-on information. Because it happens 'behind the scenes', pharming is extremely difficult to detect.

Steps to protect yourself

  • Use updated anti-virus software, anti-spyware and a firewall to thwart pharming attempts.
  • Review your credit report every year. You're entitled to one free credit report a year and anytime you're a victim of identity theft. To request a free report, call (877) 322-8228 or visit annualcreditreport.com.
  • Shred all personal and financial documents before putting them in the trash.
  • Remove mail promptly from your mailbox.
  • Notify creditors and financial institutions of address changes in advance.
  • Do not complete a transaction if you suspect the keypad has been altered.

Signs you may be a victim

  • Receiving unsolicited credit cards, denial of credit or less favorable credit terms.
  • Missing bills or statements is a potential sign your mail is being rerouted to another address.
  • Receiving unexpected phone calls from collection agencies or for debt you didn’t incur.

Here's what you can do if you suspect you've been a victim of identity theft or fraud

Contact our Member Service Center at (877) 495-1600

We can help you close your compromised account(s), open a new account or obtain a new card.

Place a fraud alert on your credit report

Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name.

Contact the toll-free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report too.

Equifax
1 (800) 525-6285
www.equifax.com

Experian
1 (888) EXPERIAN (1 (888) 397-3742)
www.experian.com

TransUnion
1 (800) 680-7289
www.transunion.com

Close other compromised accounts

Contact the security department of the appropriate creditor or financial institution and close the accounts.

Use passwords (not your mother's maiden name or Social Security number) on any new accounts you open.

File a report with local police or the police where the identity theft took place.

Get the report number or a copy of the report in case the bank, credit card company or others need proof of the crime later.

If mail has been stolen, contact the U.S. Postal Service for assistance.

California Coast Credit Union will never ask for personal information via email and does not communicate with you through text messaging unless you've enrolled for text alerts via our secure Cal Coast Online.

Important Tips about PINs

  • Never share your PIN or let anyone enter it for you
  • Memorize it and never write it on your card or where you store your card
  • Never use a PIN as a password

Managing your credit cards

Managing your credit cards

Here are some tips to manage your credit cards effectively.

Send payments at least 10 days in advance of due date to avoid late fees and possible interest rate increase.

Use online bill payment or set up an automatic payment to ensure payments are made on time.

Transfer balances from high interest credit cards to lower interest rate cards. Research the cash advance fees ahead of time. If you add the percentage rate of the cash advance to the percentage rate of the new card and it's still lower than your high interest credit card, transfer!

Use the equity in your car and get a low rate auto loan to pay down high rate credit cards.

If you can pay more than the minimum, focus your extra payments on the card with the lowest balance and the highest interest rate. Once that card is paid in full, roll that payment up to the next card. Go to www.powerpay.org to learn more.

Keep balances below 30% of the credit limit to help pevent a reduction in your credit score.

If you're struggling to make even the minimum payments, contact your creditors and inquire about their hardship programs that could lower your interest rate and/or your payments.

At California Coast, we're caring advocates for our members. We're looking out for you and serve in your best interest every day.

We have Financial Fitness Counselors on staff to help you organize and manage your household budget and expenses.

Call to set up a free, confidential appointment with a certified Financial Fitness Counselor.

North County/Central San Diego
858-467-7583

Central/East County/South County
858-636-5129