Non-Prime Auto Lending

It is estimated that families can increase their income by as much as 25% with access to reliable transportation. With 88% of Americans driving to work, this is a huge need and also an opportunity for credit unions to make a difference.

The Foundation, in partnership with the Filene Research Institute, is working to assist low-and-moderate-income consumers with its product incubator for Non-Prime Auto Loans. The 18-month pilot program recently closed, with 11 credit unions participating across the country. Non-Prime Auto Loans, a Foundation REAL Solutions product, was one of five products in the Filene’s accessible financial services incubator funded by the Ford Foundation and was selected to move to an advanced testing phase based on each product’s consumer impact, ease of use/implementation, marketplace demand, and positive return on investment.

Non-prime refers to the practice of making loans to borrowers with weak or no credit histories or limited payment capacity. Our Non-Prime Auto Lending program helps lenders fairly price and manage non-prime auto loans and is based on the Foundation's extensive work in the area, which includes previous grants and a comprehensive toolkit for credit unions. The program helps consumers gain access to reliable transportation which allows for increased access to jobs, housing, schools and activities. Economic mobility is strengthened through the mobility that comes with affordable, reliable wheels.

During the pilot, over $102 million was lent to borrowers with an average interest rate of 11.47%. Over 7,605 loans were closed. Considering the average borrower credit score of 581, the rates are lower than what most consumers would have received elsewhere.

The following credit unions that tested the Non-Prime Auto Loan product:

  1. CALCOE FCU in Yakima, Wash.;
  2. Denver Community CU in Denver, Colo.;
  3. Freedom First CU in Roanoke, Va.;
  4. Laramie Plains Community FCU in Laramie, Wyo.;
  5. Missoula FCU in Missoula, Mont.;
  6. SchoolsFirst FCU in Santa Ana, Calif.;
  7. Seasons CU in Middletown, Conn.;
  8. Summit CU in Madison, Wis.;
  9. University CU in Austin, Texas; and
  10. US FCU in Burnsville, Minn.

Non-Prime Auto Lending Program in the news:

For More Information... Lois Kitsch, National Program Director, at (407) 616-2409 or

“Partnering with the Foundation to test the viability of non-prime auto loans with mainstream financial institutions was a natural fit since their experience in working with low- to moderate-income consumers is extensive.”
- Cynthia Campbell
Director of Innovation Labs
Filene Research Institute