Automakers offer discounts to credit union members

December 22, 2008
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Chrysler Corp. is the second of the Big Three to join the newly minted “Invest in America” partnership with the Michigan Credit Union League, giving all 1,295 credit unions in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois access to affordable financing options and special discounts on new Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep vehicles. General Motors Corp. joined the partnership the week before.

Under the program, credit unions pledge billions of dollars in low-cost financing for Chrysler and GM in return for exclusive credit union member discounts and rebates. MCUL said it would like to expand the program to include Ford Motor Co., as well.

The Invest in America program runs through June 30, 2009. Under the program, credit union members who obtain financing from their credit union will receive exclusive cash rebates of either $500 or $1,000 on certain Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models. They can also get a supplier discount on new GM Buick, Cadillac, Hummer, Saab, Chevrolet, GMC, Saturn and Pontiac cars and trucks during the same timeframe. The GM Supplier Discount can range from 5 to 10 percent. Between now and Jan. 5, all qualified current and new credit union members will also receive a $250 cash bonus on a GM car in addition to the supplier discount.

“Credit unions have always focused on service to their members and communities,” said MCUL president and CEO David Adams. “This program simply expands that vision to apply much needed financing assistance to help boost domestic auto sales.”

Chrysler intends to expand the program to Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, New Mexico and Mississippi, making $12 billion more in auto loans available and extending discounts to an additional 14 million credit union members.

“All credit union members have to do is bring their credit union financing prequalification paperwork to the auto dealer,” said Mary Beth Moorheard, vice president of marketing and business development for CapCom Credit Union.

“The main thing that we want to convey is the message that credit unions do have money to lend, and we’re happy to support our partners in Michigan and move forward with this. It’s a great thing for members.”

Yes, credit unions do have money to lend, said Sara Redeker, president and CEO of Tri- Cities Credit Union in Grand Haven. Auto loans have been surprisingly steady in recent months, she noted. Tri-Cities Credit Union is trying to get the word out to its members with notices in the credit union’s lobby and on its Web site about the discounts. She expects members will respond positively to the news.

Credit union loan rates average 5.4 percent compared to 6.9 percent for average bank rates, according to Datatrac, a company that tracks auto loan rates.

The partnership with Midwest credit unions creates a tremendous value for GM and for thousands of credit union members, said Mark LaNeve, GM vice president, North America Sales, Service and Marketing.

“As GM maps its future, one thing is clear: Americans are resilient and willing to step in and show confidence in each other. This is a great example of that spirit,” LaNeve said.

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