Rivermark Community Credit Union Makes Car Loans Easy with Blank Checks for Members
By taking the hassle out of car financing, Rivermark members regain control of the car-buying process.
Buying a car can be exhilarating — but also a long process with a lot of variables to negotiate. An in-house loan product from Rivermark Community Credit Union helps members make the trip to the dealership easier and more empowering. With an Express Auto Loan, Rivermark members can take a blank check to the auto dealer and negotiate as a cash buyer. If they find the car they want, they can write the check to the dealer and drive off with their new car that day.
In the six weeks since Rivermark launched the program, more than 150 members have used a blank check to buy a new or used vehicle, said David Noble, Rivermark’s Vice President of Marketing.
And members like it. Member Kim Bickford, who also serves on Rivermark’s volunteer Board of Directors, was one of the first members to try this approach for her most recent car purchase.
“Having the blank check in my purse put the control back in my hands,” she said. “It was all about negotiating for the car, not the financing.”
When it was time to buy, she continued, it was so easy. They told her who to make the check out to and how much. All the discussions about monthly payment and what she could afford had been taken care of during the pre-approval process at Rivermark.
The pre-approved rate is good for 60 days, said Noble. “So members can shop with peace of mind even if rates go up.”
Checks are valid for 30 days at a dealership only up to the maximum pre-approval amount.
Of course, when a process is easy for members, it can require a fair amount of work on the back end. Rivermark Vice President of Lending, Mickey Beard, worked with staff and dealers to make sure the checks would provide an easy car-buying experience for members, no matter which dealership they went to and when they made their purchase.
The credit union visited local dealerships to discuss what they thought of the program and to find out what the checks needed for dealerships to be able to accept them. Rivermark also needed to ensure that they would be able to fund the loan and get the title in a timely manner. The credit union has committed resources and created a schedule so the checks are processed the same day they are received. The credit union also helps members understand how to fill out the checks properly.
“People don’t write a lot of checks anymore,” she pointed out, so the checks are printed in the branch with instructions. Members who get pre-approved over the phone can elect to stop by the branch to pick up their check or have it mailed to them. Beard hopes to evolve the product so members can print checks from their home printers — making the process even easier for them.
And that is the ultimate aim, said Noble. “Our primary goal was to simplify the car buying experience and to give our members more control during the negotiating and financing process.”
From what Noble has heard, they’re achieving it. “Members continue to tell us they’re able to negotiate better deals and are saving time spent at the dealership.”