About Us

Membership in Orange County's Credit Union is available to anyone who lives or works in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, or San Bernardino Counties. Don't live or work in our area? You may also qualify if your immediate family member banks with us. Ask us for details. Membership fee is $5.

Immediate Family Includes:
Spouse
Child
Sibling
Parent
Grandparent
Grandchild
Stepparent
Stepchild
Adoptive Relationships

The routing number for Orange County's Credit Union is 322281989.

To find our 10 Orange County’s Credit Union branch locations, view our Locations page.

Orange County's Credit Union branch hours are:

Monday – Friday: 9 am - 6 pm

Saturday: 9 am - 2 pm

We are closed on Sundays and certain holidays. For more information, visit our Locations page.

Our Call Center is open Monday to Friday from 8 am - 7 pm and Saturday from 9 am - 2 pm Pacific Standard Time. We are closed on Sundays and certain holidays.

Please visit the Contact Us page for our mailing address.

Text MYCOOP to find the nearest CO-OP Network surcharge-free ATM.  Now you have the power to find CO-OP Network surcharge-free ATMs in the palm of your hands. MYCOOP is an enhancement to our ATM Locator that enables you to find nearly 30,000 surcharge-free CO-OP Network ATMs via a text message.

Here's how:

Send a text to MYCOOP (692667) from any mobile phone. In the body of the text, enter your location address (with city and state), zip code, or intersection (with city and state).

In about 30 seconds, the service will reply with the CO-OP Network surcharge-free ATM nearest to your location.

If you want more ATM locations, simply reply MORE to the message and additional surcharge-free ATM locations will be sent to your mobile device.

This service is FREE – only standard text-messaging rates apply.

Yes, we do offer notary services at all of our branch locations. There is no fee for Credit Union documents or for our Platinum level Members. Otherwise, the fee is $10 per signature.

Coinstar machines in the U.S. will take the following coin:

  • 1 Cent (except 1943 Steel and Indian head)
  • 5 Cent (all)
  • 10 Cent (except Silver 1964 and prior)
  • 25 Cent (except Silver 1964 and prior) (including State series)
  • 50 Cent (except Silver 1969 and prior)
  • 1 Dollar (Susan B Anthony, Sacagawea, and newer Presidential series)(except Eisenhower dollars)

Coinstar machines are available at all Orange County's Credit Union branches.

If you would like to process coins that are not on this list, you may be able to seek out a Coinstar Center on www.coinstar.com. These locations accept any quantity of unsorted coins in your local currency.  Coinstar's patented technology allows its processors to filter out foreign coins and other debris.  However, these items may not be returned by the processors, so it is a good idea to remove items such as Eisenhower silver dollars; 1943 steel pennies; foreign, damaged, or sticky coins; pure silver coinage; and other debris from your stored coins.

Through Shared Branching, over 1,300 credit unions across the in the U.S. and internationally have come together to share their facilities with you as a guest Member. This collaboration gives you the convenience of performing transactions even when an Orange County's Credit Union branch is not close by. If one of our branches is not located conveniently to your work, your home, or your travel destination, you won’t be out of touch since a Shared Branch location is likely to be nearby. You have access to over 5,500 locations in 47 states, Puerto Rico, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Germany. These numbers keep growing as more states and credit unions join the Shared Branching Network.

Learn more.

Vcom units (self-service kiosks) at selected 7-Eleven stores allow you to access your Credit Union accounts. The following services are available on a Vcom unit: deposit checks, make cash withdrawals, get cash loan advances, make loan payments by check, transfer funds between your Credit Union accounts, check balances, and view recent transaction history.

Learn more.

Unfortunately, Orange County's Credit Union does not offer currency exchange services. Once you arrive to your country of destination, you may use your Debit MasterCard® to make purchases or withdraw cash from an ATM. Purchases may be made wherever MasterCard is accepted. ATM withdrawals may be made if the machine has a MasterCard, CO-OP, or Star logo as shown on the back of your card.If you perform these types of transactions, although they’ll be in foreign currency, you’ll see them deducted from your checking account in U.S. Dollars.

In order to ensure that your card will work when you’re traveling, you should always contact the Credit Union to provide the dates of your travel plans as well as what destinations will be visited.

Please call our lost and stolen cards department at (800) 754-4128 (within the U.S.) or (414) 341-6535 (outside the U.S.). Please have the following information ready:

  • Your Credit Unions' name
  • Your name
  • Last four numbers of your social security
  • Your address
  • Your lost/stolen card number (If you don’t know the numbers, please refer to a receipt you might have on you from a purchase made with that card. If you’re unable to provide the card number, the representatives will suggest other options.)

Please contact Orange County's Credit Union the following business day to go over the recent activity for that card and to request a new card.

Regular Orange County's Credit Union business hours are:

Weekdays: 8 am - 7 pm

Saturday: 9 am - 2 pm

Contact: (888) 354-6228

No, however you can still link your Orange County’s Credit Union account to Zelle.

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Auto Loans

Visit our Loan Rates page for the current auto loan rates.

For consumer loans, Members should send their requests via the Call Center at (888) 354-6228 or a Branch Associate to submit the request. Note: Not all loan changes will be approved.

Please provide an acceptable form of proof of insurance by mail, fax, phone, or internet as listed below.

Acceptable forms of insurance:
  • Declarations Page mailed to P.O. Box 924293, Fort Worth, TX 76124 or faxed to: (877) 815-9423
  • Insurance carrier verbally verifies insurance with the State National Tracking Center at: (877) 355-8958
  • Binder of Insurance (good for 30 days) mailed to P.O. Box 924293, Fort Worth, TX 76124 or faxed to: (877) 815-9423
  • Member internet verification: www.myloaninsurance.com
What is good insurance?
  • Orange County's Credit Union is named as lien holder or loss payee
  • Correct vehicle description (year, make, model, complete VIN #)
  • Comprehensive and Collision for the life of the loan, with a deductible of $1,000.00 or less

Orange County's Credit Union holds paperless titles on all vehicles financed with us. That means that even if you visit the branch to pay off your loan, we will not have the actual title available. Once you pay off your loan, we will send the DMV electronic notification to release your title. The DMV will then mail the title directly to you. The title is mailed to the address on the most recent vehicle registration.

A branch visit is not necessary. Once the final payment is transferred from your savings or checking, you may contact us to request a release of lien. You can also wait for the DMV to mail you the title as first mentioned. The DMV typically takes about 4-6 weeks to do this. If your address on your registration is outdated, we suggest you submit a change of address to the DMV before the payoff takes place.

Here are some helpful websites to visit when buying a new or used vehicle:

  • Better Business Bureau - bbb.org
  • Carfax, Inc.- carfax.com
  • Consumers' Checkbook - CarBargains - carbargains.org
  • Edmunds.com, Inc. - edmunds.com - gives the True Market Value, or average selling price, for a particular vehicle in your region
  • Consumer Reports. - consumerreports.org
  • Kelly Blue Book - kbb.com
  • National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Guides Online - nadaguides.com
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - nhtsa.dot.gov - for federal crash test results
  • US Department of Energy - fueleconomy.gov  - for gas mileage info
  • Highway Loss Data Institute - hldi.org - View rankings for injury & property losses for any vehicle, plus a list of the most- and least-stolen models. These factors affect insurance costs as well as your safety & peace of mind.

For a convenient car-shopping experience, enjoy our concierge auto-buying service through Autoland. Describe the type of vehicle you want and they'll search their expansive network to find the perfect fit for you. They’ll even negotiate the price on your behalf and deliver it to your front door.

If your payment is more than 10 days late, you will be charged 20% of the interest due, but not less than $5.00.

We understand that unforeseen circumstances such as illness or loss of employment can befall anyone.  The Credit Union is here to help you work through this difficult financial time and minimize the impact to your credit. Some ways we may be able to help are:

  • Adding payments to the end of the loan
  • Combining debts into one payment
  • Temporarily reducing payments

To apply for assistance with your personal or vehicle loan, please gather the following items:

  • Your 2 most recent pay stubs (or W-2s)
  • A letter detailing the nature of your financial hardship and explaining how a deferment or reduction would help
  • A completed budget worksheet
  • If this is an auto loan, please include proof of insurance in the form of a copy of your declarations page from your insurance carrier

Click here to download and print the budget worksheet.

You can fax these documents to (714) 885-7649 Attention: Loan Servicing Department, take the forms to your local branch, or mail them to PO Box 11777, Santa Ana, CA 92711. If you have access to a scanner, you may send the forms to us at contactcenter@orangecountyscu.org as an attachment to a secure email. Please note that if your loan is nearing delinquency, you should send the forms via fax so that we can take action as soon as possible.

For additional questions, please contact the Call Center at (888) 354-6228 or Loan Servicing at (888) 855-7624.

No, GAP coverage may only be purchased on vehicle loans financed with Orange County's Credit Union.

MRC coverage, however, can be purchased at any time whether or not the vehicle is financed and even if it is financed with another lender.

To apply for relief under the SCRA, we require:

Written request for reduction in interest rate under the Service Members Civil Relief Act. Provide us with a copy of (1) the military orders or (2) any other appropriate indicator of military service, including a certified letter from a commanding officer. (The Credit Union is not required to obtain the mobilization orders as long as we can verify when the active duty status begins by using the website: https://scra-e.dmdc.osd.mil/scra/#/home.)

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Accounts

Membership is available to anyone who lives or works in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, or San Bernardino Counties. You may also qualify if your immediate family member banks with us. Ask us for details. Membership fee is $5.

Visit our checking and savings account pages to see the different accounts we offer, this will help you decide which account best suits your needs. A checking or savings account can be opened with a minimum opening deposit of $25.

Please click here to apply for your account online. If you'd like to open a business account, youth account (under 18 years of age), trust account, or an IRA account, please visit one of our branches.

If you have any questions, please contact us by calling (888) 354-6228.

The minimum is 18 years of age to open a standard savings or checking account, 13 years of age for a Pacific savings or checking account, and 1 day old with a Social Security Number for a Sand Dollar savings account. For Pacific checking or savings accounts and Sand Dollar savings accounts, a parent or legal guardian is required as a signer.

Your checking account number can be located at the bottom of your checks. It’s the second set of numbers following the routing number of 322281989. You can also locate your checking account number in Online Banking and Mobile Banking.

If you’re employed by the County of Orange or Orange County's Transportation Authority, contact us by calling (888) 354-6228 or ask a Branch Associate to obtain a direct deposit form.

Additionally, Orange County’s Credit Union can provide direct deposit forms with the routing number and account number to give to employers. Although, not all employers will accept the forms.

To request a check register, please contact us.

Message: Send us a secure message through Online Banking.

Phone: (888) 354-6228

If you have a business account and need to have larger, personalized registers, then you may place an order online. Log in to Online Banking, click on the Additional Services button. From here, scroll down to the check ordering area and click Enter. You may place orders for checks as well as various accessories such as check registers, covers, stamps, and address labels.

At this time, there isn’t a way to view pending deposits to an account. Direct deposit is always posted on business days which are Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The time of the day is typically between 7 am to 8 am. The date on which your deposit is posted will be your pay date. To see what your pay date is, please view your pay stub, provided by your employer.

Each year, by the end of January, the Credit Union sends tax documents such as 1098, 1098 INT, 1099 INT, 1099R, and 1099C to Members with eligible accounts.

If you receive your periodic statements by postal mail, then your tax form will also be mailed to you. If you’ve opted in to eStatements online, then we’ll email you once the document is ready. At that point, you may log in to Online Banking to access the tax forms.

To access the forms via Online Banking:

  • Log in
  • Go to Menu
  • Select “Statements & Documents”
  • In the Account field, select “Member Number”
  • In the Statement Type field, select “Tax Form”
  • In the Year field, select the appropriate year
  • Click on the document name that appears or click the down arrow to download it

 

If you’ve lost your tax form, we can order a duplicate copy for you. To submit your request, please call us at (888) 354-6228.

To change your name on your account(s), please complete the Printable Membership Application and bring it to your local branch along with a copy of your new photo ID. The ID must show the new name. If you’re unable to visit a branch, you may mail the form and ID copy to:

Orange County's Credit Union
PO Box 11777
Santa Ana, CA 92711

For a business account, please visit a local branch to inquire or you may email BusinessServices@orangecountyscu.org for more information. Please note that all signers would need to be present and additional documentation may be requested to complete your request.

All account signers must complete the form. For a trust account or an IRA, the forms are different and aren’t accessible online. Please call us for full details at (888) 354-6228.

Yes, there is a monthly fee associated with our checking accounts. However, there are many ways that the checking account fees can be waived. All of our checking accounts are free with direct deposit.* If your employer doesn’t offer direct deposit, you can still open a checking account with options to have the monthly fee waived. For more information, visit our Checking Accounts webpage.

Click here to view the full Fee Schedule.

All checking accounts come with access to many free services including:

  • Bill Payment
  • Online Banking
  • Mobile Banking
  • Text Message Alerts
  • Debit MasterCard®
  • Access to nearly 30,000 free ATMs

Additionally, we offer monthly dividends on some of our checking accounts. 

*A qualifying direct deposit is an electronic deposit of your paycheck, pension, or government benefits (such as Social Security) from your employer or government agency. Person-to-person payments are not considered direct deposit. If you have any questions regarding this, please call us at (888) 354-6228.

To see how much your accounts earn in dividends, view our Deposit Rates page for more information.

For more information on Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs), view the Notice to Customers: A CTR Reference Guide.

So that we protect your account(s) against any potential unauthorized charges (domestic or international), we ask that you enter your travel information by logging on to Online Banking or Mobile Banking and selecting Manage Debit/ATM Card, or call our Member Services Center at (888) 354-6228.

Yes, you can visit any branch to withdraw a large sum of cash, however, advance notice is needed. Please call our Member Services Center at (888) 354-6228 for more information.

Yes, you can transfer the funds, however, you must be the primary member on both accounts. Please call (866) 692-8669 and a shared branch call center representative will assist you with funds transfers or loan payments.

This is through the CO-OP network so some exclusions may apply. Contact us at (888) 354-6228 for more information. 

Yes, you can request a wire over the phone, however, some limitations apply. Please visit any of our branches for more details or contact our Call Center at (888) 354-6228.

You may dispute a transaction by visiting one of our branches or by contacting our Call Center at (888) 354-6228.

If you’ve moved out of our area, you may continue to use your Orange County's Credit Union account(s). The following services allow for convenient access of your account(s):

  • Online Banking
  • Mobile Banking¹
  • Telephone Banking
  • ATMs
  • Shared Branches

If you proceed with closing your account(s), please note that you’ll have to requalify for Membership if you’d like to be a Member again in the future.

You may close your account by visiting any Orange County's Credit Union branch location. If you’re unable to come to a branch, please put your request in writing then mail it to us or send it by fax.

Orange County's Credit Union
PO Box 11777
Santa Ana, CA 92711
Fax: (714) 885-7620

¹Message and data rates may apply. Contact your service provided for more information.

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Cards

General

You many visit any of our Orange County's Credit Union branches and request a new debit card; it only takes a few minutes to produce. We can also place a rush delivery for a fee.

You can use your mobile device to make contactless purchases with Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay both online and at participating merchants wherever your card is accepted. Simply add your Credit Union card to one of these digital wallets and start using your mobile device for faster and easier checkouts. Click here for more information.

It's not required, but it's recommended that you contact the merchant first before initiating a dispute. We often find this as a quick and easy way to resolve the issue.

We recommend that you keep copies of all signed contracts, merchant credit slips, email exchanges, cancellation numbers, and receipts validating that you have returned merchandise when filing a dispute claim for a merchant transaction.

A Foreign Transaction Fee is generally assessed when you use your credit or debit card for a transaction with a business or entity located outside the United States.

Credit Cards

No. Orange County's Credit Union Mastercard® doesn’t have an annual fee.

A late payment fee of $7 will be charged to the credit card if the minimum payment due isn’t paid within 5 days of the payment due date.

You can request a credit line increase by visiting a local Orange County's Credit Union branch or contacting our Call Center at (888) 354-6228.

Your due date is 25 days after the close of each billing cycle. Interest won’t be charged on purchases if you pay your entire balance by the due date each month.

Please contact an Orange County's Credit Union Associate at (888) 354-6228 to help you with your balance transfer request.

Mastercard Platinum Credit Card - $0 introductory fee for balance transfer in the first 6 months that your account is open. After that, your fee will be 2% of the amount of the balance transfer, but not less than $5.00 nor greater than $50.00 per balance transfer.

Mastercard Platinum Rewards & Secured Credit Card - 2% of the amount of the balance transfer, but not less than $5.00 nor greater than $50.00 per balance transfer.

Please have your Financial Institution name, account number, and payment mailing address ready prior to contacting Orange County's Credit Union.

If you need further assistance with your Mastercard, we invite you to contact an Orange County’s Credit Union Associate at (888) 354-6228, between 8:00 am - 7:00 pm (PST), Monday through Friday, and 9:00 am - 2:00 pm (PST) on Saturday. You may also contact us using our secured messaging system available via your Online Banking login.

To view the benefits available with your Mastercard, please refer to the Guide for Benefits Disclosure.

Please mail payments for your Orange County's Credit Union Mastercard to:

Mastercard
P.O. Box 37035
Boone, IA 50037-035

Please write your account number on your check. Please don’t mail cash. Please call (888) 354-6228 if you have any questions about your Mastercard credit card.

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Digital Banking

Mobile & Online Banking

If you’ve used Online Banking before, but can't remember your password or username, click here to access our home page and then click on: "Forgot Username or Password?"

Please provide the required information on the next screen.

If you’re still not able to access your account, please call us at (888) 354-6228 and we’ll be happy to further assist you.

To change your username in the Mobile App:

  • Step 1: Log in to the Mobile App
  • Step 2: Click on Menu
  • Step 3: Click Settings
  • Step 4: Under Profile you may change your username

To view the confirmation number of a payment you’ve just scheduled, click on "View Payment Activity," then click on "More Details." The Payment confirmation number will be displayed on the left.

To delete a scheduled recurring online transfer:

  • Step 1: Log in to Online Banking
  • Step 2: Click on Transfer Money
  • Step 3: Click on the Scheduled tab
  • Step 4: Click on Details located to the right of the recurring transfer you wish to delete or edit
  • Step 5: Click Delete
  • Step 6: A confirmation of the change will be displayed on screen. Click Yes to delete.

After three business days have passed, the trial deposits should now have reached your external financial institution. Please follow these steps to confirm the trial deposit amounts. You’ll be able to begin making transfers to this external account immediately upon verifying the two trial deposit amounts. An email is sent once the account is ready to validate.

  • Step 1: Log in to your external financial institution's Online Banking and look for two very small deposits from ORANGECOUNTYCU
  • Step 2: Log in to Orange County's Credit Union's Online Banking
  • Step 3: Click on Transfer Money
  • Step 4: Click on Accounts tab
  • Step 5: Click on Verify to add trial deposit amounts
  • Step 6: Enter the trial deposit amounts
  • Step 7: Click Verify & Add to confirm process
  • Step 8: Your account is now activated

A stop payment may be placed online with the check number. Also, you may contact Orange County's Credit Union at (888) 354-6228 to place a stop payment.

Bill Pay

An eBill is an electronic representation of an invoice/bill from a payee to our Member. Once the login and password are provided for a payee's website, we can retrieve the eBill automatically. You can then log in to Bill Payment and view your eBill rather than having to wait for it to arrive by postal mail or having to log in to the payee's website. Not all payees offer eBills and receiving an eBill is optional.  There's no cost for having an eBill. If a payee offers an eBill, this option will be presented at the time that the payee is added as well as when viewing the payee list after selecting the green "eBill" button. Clicking on the eBill button will take you to the setup screen.

No, an eBill is an electronic version of your bill that you receive here, directly within your bill pay product, which you can view and pay immediately while an email is delivered to your personal email inbox.

Yes, eBills are free and they can accelerate and simplify the bill paying process. You simply click it, view it, and pay it.

Yes, and in fact eBills also look exactly like your paper bills. The only difference is that they’re conveniently delivered to your bill payment website instead of to your home's mailbox.

Yes, you can set up an automatic payment and we'll pay your eBill when it arrives. We can also send you a text message or an email when your eBill arrives and when it’s paid. No more late payments or late fees.

Statistics have proven that eBills reduce the risk of identity theft, which is most often traced to lost or stolen documents that can be taken from your home's mailbox. You also do away with the need to store and shred bills that contain confidential information. Also, you’re helping the environment by eliminating unnecessary paper. When you go paperless, you go green.

It enables us to retrieve electronic versions of your bills and present them to you in a single, secure location. Don't worry, your login information is kept confidential.

You should enter your login information for that biller's website. If you haven't registered for online account access with your biller, please take a moment to do so before continuing with the setup process.

Yes, we’re committed to safeguarding the privacy and security of all your personal information. Your login information is kept confidential and is used only to retrieve an electronic version of your bill from the biller's website so that we can present it to you online.

To add a payee:

  • Step 1: Go to the Pay Bills page
  • Step 2: Click on Add Payee
  • Step 3: Enter the Payee Name in the first field

To update a payee’s address:

  • Step 1: Go to Pay Bills
  • Step 2: Select Manage Payees and click on the downward arrow to the left of the Payee Name
  • Step 3: Select Edit Biller

If you need to update a payee’s account number, you’ll need to add a new payee with the correct account information.

For payees that offer eBills, you’ll be prompted to set this up at the time that you add the payee.  If you decline at that time, you may also add it later. To do this, click the "eBill" link and follow the online instructions. You should begin receiving your bill online within 1-2 billing cycles.

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Financial Education

Credit Reports

To receive your credit report, we recommend www.annualcreditreport.com - it’s the only source for free credit reports authorized by Federal law. You’re entitled to receive a free copy from the three credit bureaus – Experian®, TransUnion®, and Equifax® - every 12 months.  

You have the option of getting all three reports at the same time. If you’ve never seen your reports, this may be a great idea. However, another option is to stagger the reports, to receive a different report every four months. Doing this allows you to view your report three times a year instead of just once and may alert you to any fraud or identity theft faster.

As a Member, you can contact GreenPath Financial Wellness for a no-cost review of your credit report. Click here to request a call back. Or you can contact GreenPath directly by calling: (877) 337-3399.

Whether you’re starting out or starting over, we have some practical tips to help you get started on building your credit score. Watch our webinar on, "How to Build Credit the Right Way" or read our Credit Building Guide.

Increasing your credit score takes time. There is no "quick fix" to improve your credit score. Be skeptical of any company that says it provides credit repair. As a Member, we suggest you contact our partner, GreenPath Financial Wellness, about other options including complimentary credit counseling. Click here to request a call from GreenPath. Or contact them directly by calling: (877) 337-3399.

A credit score is a number based on a formula using the information in a credit report. The result is an accurate forecast of how likely the person is to pay their bills. It’s calculated using five major components, with varying levels of importance.

  • Payment History = 35%
  • Capacity or Use of Total Available Credit = 30%
  • Length of Credit = 15%
  • New Credit = 10%
  • Mix of Credit = 10%

Since each credit bureau uses its own formula, your score can vary, depending on which bureau supplies the info. Most credit scores are between 300 and 850 (the higher the better.) Watch our webinar, "Breakdown of a Credit Score" – just 2 minutes.

To dispute an error, contact both the credit reporting company (e.g., Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and the company that provided the information (e.g., lender). Visit for specific instructions including links to the credit bureaus’ dispute forms.

It’s important to periodically review your credit report because the information it has affects whether you can get a loan, insurance, rental, job, and/or utilities —and how much you’ll have to pay. Plus, it can help guard you against identify theft.

Yes. A FICO Score is a proprietary tool created by the data analytics company, FICO. It’s not the only type of credit score available, but it’s one of the most common measurements used by lenders.

While making the minimum payment seems like it can be a good way to keep everything afloat, it can actually hurt your short- and long-term goals. Click here to learn more.

A balance transfer can be an excellent way to get credit card debt under control. These offers may seem like gifts from credit card companies; however, not all are in your best interest. Click here to learn about the things you should consider before you transfer a balance.

Whatever your reason for closing a credit card, it’ll have an impact on your credit score. Click here to read key takeaways before you make your decision.

Managing Debt

We encourage you to contact your preferred credit union/bank about options – their options typically offer fewer fees, better repayment options, and lower interest rates than payday lender options. Before choosing to take out a payday loan, make sure you understand the potential fees you may have to pay, have a plan on how to pay back the loan, and know your rights.

The interest rates on payday loans tend to be astronomical – more than 100% in many cases. And when you can’t repay on their terms — sometimes in as little as two weeks – they’ll roll over the loan and leave you stuck in a never-ending cycle of repayment.

The Snowball Method, paying down the smallest debt first, is a popular method for tackling debt. Another common strategy is the Avalanche Method, paying off the highest interest debt first. Watch our webinar, "Strategies to Deal with Debt." Regardless of the method you choose, it should be the one you can stick to and keeps you moving towards your goal of being debt free.

There is no difference. The terms "credit counseling" and "debt counseling" both refer to the process of exploring options to help you get out of debt, increase savings, and take control of your financial future.

Members of Orange County’s Credit Union have access to complimentary credit/debit counseling through our partner, GreenPath Financial Wellness. Their counselors are compassionate, respectful, and certified through National Foundation for Credit Counseling. It’s also 100% confidential. Click here to learn about their services and request an appointment.

We suggest the D-I-V-E approach to teaching children about money. D: Discuss with your kids about what they want to save up for. I: Involve your kids in their own finances. V: Visualize a method to show their savings. E: Educate your kids on their financial options. Plus, check out our parent resources.

Identity Theft & Fraud

With so many new scams continuously emerging, it’s important to stay up to date on how to spot and prevent fraud. Here are eight tips you can use to help protect yourself:

  1. Think Twice Before Using Public Wi-Fi
  2. Keep Your Cards Safe
  3. Look for Signs of ID Theft on Your Credit Report
  4. Properly Destroy Old Credit/Debit Cards, Checks, and Statements
  5. Know How to Recognize Phony Websites
  6. Be Wary of Emails
  7. Be Cautious of Employment Opportunities That Seem Too Good to Be True
  8. Protect Your Banking Account Information

To read the full details, click here.

Although having your identity stolen can be stressful, you shouldn't panic. Here are some easy steps you can follow should you encounter identity theft:

  1. Call Companies You Know Where Fraud Occurred
  2. Place a Fraud Alert with a Major Credit Reporting Agency
  3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  4. File a Police Report
  5. Take Preventative Measures

For additional details, click here.

Getting rid of old things usually means throwing them in the trash. WAIT - with old credit and/or debit cards, you’ll want to do something different to help prevent fraudulent charges. Click here to learn 5 ways to securely dispose of cards to foil the efforts of fraudsters.

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Investments & Financial Planning

Investment Accounts

A 401(k) plan is offered by employers to allow you to set aside money for retirement on a tax-advantaged basis. You can contribute pre-tax dollars and then invest those dollars in the investment options provided by your employer for the purpose of saving for retirement.

The earnings on your investments are tax-deferred until retirement. Your employer may also make matching contributions to your account.

401(k) plan highlights:
  • Contributions to a plan can come from voluntary employee salary reduction, from the employer, or both.
  • Contributions are deducted from each payroll in the amount determined by the employee.
  • Employees are immediately 100% vested with their own salary reduction tax deferred contributions.
401(k) plan limits:
Traditional IRAs

An IRA is an Individual Retirement Account that provides several tax benefits. IRA accounts can be comprised of many different types of investments such as CDs/share certificates, bonds, stocks, and mutual funds, to name just a few options.

A Traditional IRA enables individuals to save money in a tax-deferred account. What that means is that the earnings from your IRA account won’t be taxed until you begin taking money out of the account.

Traditional IRA Snapshot
  • Contributions: May be tax-deductible (depending on whether you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and your income level)
  • Earnings: Earnings grow tax-deferred until withdrawn at retirement
  • Withdrawals: 10% early withdrawal penalty may apply for withdrawals taken prior to age 59-1/2 if no exceptions apply. Penalty-free withdrawals are available in certain circumstances such as for first home purchase and certain college expenses. Minimum required distributions start at age 72.

Each year you can invest up to the maximum annual contribution limit or 100% of your earned income, whichever is less.

Unlike earnings on IRA accounts, which aren’t taxed until withdrawn, the IRA contribution itself may or may not be deductible from your taxable income. Tax deductibility of contributions depends on your income and if you or your spouse participate in a workplace retirement plan.

Please consult a qualified tax professional for tax advice on your specific circumstances.

This doesn’t apply after 2020 – no age limit now on making IRA contributions if you have earned income.

In order to contribute to a traditional IRA, you must have some form of compensation. "Compensation" includes wages, salaries, bonuses, and commissions. Compensation doesn’t include deferred compensation or payments such as interest income and stock dividends that you received during the year.

How much you can contribute may change each tax year. Click here for information on contributions and limits.

Anyone can contribute to a Traditional IRA up to the annual limit regardless of income. The ability to take a tax deduction for your contributions is subject to income limitations.

Roth IRAs

The purpose of a Roth IRA is to put away money for retirement. To be classified a Roth IRA, the account or annuity must be designated as a Roth IRA when it’s set up.

Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars; the contributions aren’t tax deductible, but qualified distributions are tax-free. Click here for information on contributions and limits.

Generally, you can contribute to a Roth IRA if you have earned income (this can be in the form of wages, salaries, tips, professional fees, bonuses, etc.). 

To be eligible to make a contribution to a Roth IRA (or a deductible contribution to a Traditional IRA), your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must be less than a stated amount, depending on tax-filing status.

Unlike the Traditional IRA, contributions to the Roth IRA aren’t tax-deductible. However, any income generated grows tax-free in a Roth IRA.

After funds have been in a Roth IRA for five years, you can make tax-free withdrawals after age 59-1/2.  Early withdrawals, or distributions, from a Roth IRA are normally subject to a 10% additional tax penalty.

Funds may be withdrawn without penalty for certain circumstances such as the purchase of a first home, pay for higher education, or for disabilities.

There is no age limitation for Roth IRA contributions, but you must be 18 or older. Unlike Traditional IRAs, you can be any age and still qualify to contribute to a Roth IRA.

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Lending Protection Products

In the event of a breakdown, review the following guidelines and contact information:

  1. Member arranges to have the vehicle taken to an authorized repair facility. (If possible, repairs should be done by the original selling dealer or a dealership that sells this make of vehicle.) If the vehicle needs to be towed, Member should call for roadside assistance. Call (866) 603-5420 for 24-hour Roadside Assistance.
  2. Member authorizes the repair facility to perform the necessary diagnosis, and get a repair estimate. Please note: Mechanical Breakdown Insurance doesn’t pay for diagnosis charges on repairs not covered under MBI policy/agreement.
  3. Call CUNA Mutual Group Claims and obtain a repair authorization number prior to beginning any repairs covered by the policy/agreement. In the event that a repair is performed outside of service hours, please call the next business day to receive further instructions from the Administrator. For claims in all states except Florida, call (800) 752-6265. For claims in the state of Florida, call (800) 621-2130.
  4. After repairs are complete, Member pays the required deductible and the cost of any repairs not covered by the policy/agreement. The repair facility bills the Administrator and the Administrator pays the repair facility directly for authorized repairs.

If a Member's policy/agreement was purchased within the last 30 days and that Member needs to make a claim, our Claims Service area may not yet have the Member's records. If this occurs, please contact Member Services at (888) 557-8955.

Yes, you may cancel an MBI policy at any time To cancel, contact the Producer. The Producer will assist with your cancellation request. Alternatively, you must provide written notice to the Administrator. A copy of your policy and an odometer reading statement In the event the Member requests cancellation of the policy:

  • If the policy is canceled within 60 days of the purchase date and a claim hasn’t been incurred, a 100% refund of the policy price will be made.
  • After 60 days or if the Member has incurred a claim within the first 60 days, a pro-rata refund of the unused months or unused miles will be made.
  • The pro-rata refund will be calculated by multiplying the policy price by the lesser percentage of the unused months or unused miles compared to the total months or total miles of your policy term, less an administrative premium of $50.

The cancellation form can be generated from Protection Advisor Expert (PAX). Alternatively, the Credit Union may send or fax the cancellation request and the agreement/policy declaration page (if available) to: CUNA Mutual Group, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, IA 50677 or fax to (608) 236-8030.

GAP is available to purchase anytime during the life of the loan. We recommend the loan-to-value (LTV) be at least 80%.

No, there is no uniform payment being applied so there is no reduction in the principal of the loan. Therefore, a GAP Waiver can’t be put on the note.

Additional loans that aren’t eligible: 

  • Balloon loans
  • Interest-only loans
  • Real estate secured loans
  • Signature loans
  • Lease loans

If you refinance or modify your loan with Orange County’s Credit Union, we’ll continue to protect the portion of your refinanced or modified loan that doesn’t (a) exceed the amount of your loan on the date of the refinance or modification, and (b) exceed the Maximum Protected Loan Terms determined from the effective date of GAP.

Yes, the GAP Waiver Fee is disclosed in the "Amount Paid to Others" section of the loan agreement.

If you refinance or modify your loan with Orange County’s Credit Union, we’ll continue to protect the portion of your refinanced or modified loan that doesn’t (a) exceed the amount of your loan on the date of the refinance or modification, and (b) exceed the Maximum Protected Loan Terms determined from the effective date of GAP.

Credit Union policy may require that a new GAP policy is purchased if the loan is refinanced.

We recommend that GAP not be offered on these loans. However, if GAP is offered, a waiver should be sold for both pieces of collateral. When multiple waivers are sold and one of the vehicles is totaled or stolen, then the claim would be adjusted based on the percentage value that vehicle represents to the loan. For example, if the collateral secures 50% of the loan, CUNA will adjust the claim based on half of the loan value at the time of loss.

Assets that are eligible for GAP include: Motor Vehicle - private passenger cars, vans, light trucks; 20 model years or newer.

Yes, loans that are secured solely by an eligible vehicle include:

  • Traditional closed-end loans
  • Refinances (from a different lender)
  • Collateral lending (funds used for other purposes)
  • Open-end loans (draws specific for new and used auto financing)

 

No, GAP is a debt cancellation benefit and needs to be tied to a loan, secured by the collateral being protected.

Yes. Power Sports include: New & Used - motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and personal watercraft (e.g. jet ski).

GAP is voluntary and can be cancelled at any time by providing CUNA written notice of cancellation. For cancellations, complete the cancellation form and submit to CUNA Mutual Insurance Agency, Inc. For the 90-day trial period, Members have 90 days, from enrollment date, to cancel protection and receive a full refund with no cancellation fee. After 90 days, no refund is due if the Member cancels after 90 days.

No. If the vehicle is substituted in place of one that has a GAP Waiver, the customer will need to purchase a new GAP Waiver. But, if the customer gets a different vehicle within the 90-day free look period, then they can get a full refund on the original loan, and purchase GAP on the new loan.

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Home Loans

General

A mortgage is a loan that is used to buy or refinance a home. In return for the loan, you pay interest on the amount loaned. The lender also has first rights on your house in case you neglect to pay back the loan.

A mortgage has three components:

  • Amount (how many dollars you need to borrow)
  • Interest Rate (the percentage rate you pay on the loan)
  • Term (how long it’ll take to pay off the loan, generally 10, 15, 20, or 30 years)

All of these components impact how much your mortgage payment will be. The higher the interest rate, the shorter the term, or the larger the amount, the higher the monthly mortgage payment. You have control over the amount and term, but the rate is largely set by the market. However, by shopping around you can find the most favorable rate possible and the lender with whom you feel most comfortable.

The two basic types of mortgages are fixed-rate and adjustable-rate

There are two primary types of mortgages: fixed and adjustable. Visit our Mortgage webpage to learn more.

The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is the amount of money you borrow compared with the lower of the price or appraised value of the home you’re financing. Each loan has a specific LTV limit. For example, with a 95% LTV loan on a home priced at $100,000, you could borrow up to $95,000 (95% of $100,000), and would pay $5,000 as a down payment. The LTV ratio reflects the amount of equity borrowers have in their homes. The higher the LTV ratio, the less cash homebuyers are required to pay down out of their own funds. So, to protect lenders against potential loss in case of default, higher LTV loans (80% or more) usually require a private mortgage insurance (PMI) policy.

PMI stands for "Private Mortgage Insurance." PMI is an insurance policy taken out by a mortgage company to protect the lender in case you’re unable to make your mortgage payments and the lender forecloses. However, PMI does nothing to protect you, the borrower. When you took out the loan to purchase your home, the lender added the cost of this insurance to your monthly payment unless you made at least a 20% down payment. Once you pay off enough of the loan to meet this 20% threshold, you’re eligible in almost all cases to have this payment dropped if an appraisal shows that your loan is really 80% or less of your current home value. Since most homes generally increase in value, this condition is frequently met before 20% of the loan is paid off. It’s recommended that you contact your lender or mortgage servicer to learn about the requirements to remove PMI from your home loan.

The annual percentage rate (APR) is an interest rate that is different from the rate stated on the loan and is commonly used to compare loan programs from different lenders. The Federal Truth in Lending law requires financial institutions to disclose the APR when they advertise a rate. Typically, the APR is found next to the rate in the ad.

The APR is designed to measure the "true cost" of a loan, and was intended to create a level playing field for lenders by preventing lenders from advertising a low rate and hiding fees.

The APR provides a great starting point when comparing loan products from various lenders. However, different lenders can and do calculate a loan's APR differently. The difference comes about since all loan fees aren’t required to be included in the APR. 

The best way to understand your total loan cost is to ask lenders to provide you with a good-faith estimate of their costs on the type of mortgage you’re interested in getting. You then need to factor in the differences in fees along with the APR to determine which lender provides you with the most favorable deal.

Members can print a copy of their 1098 Mortgage Interest form by logging in to Online Banking. A Member with a mortgage loan that has paid $600 or more in finance charges will have a 1098 form. If you have an escrow account or an impound account and they have earned a minimum of $10 in dividends, we’ll also produce a 1099 form. 

Steps to locate tax forms:

  • Login to Online Banking
  • Click "My Mortgage"
  • Navigate to the "Account Management" menu
  • Select the "Document Center" option from the drop-down list and validate the ability to access the Document Center and view documents
  • You may select the desired document at this point

If you have any questions about the amounts on the forms, or feel there is a discrepancy, please call our Mortgage Loan Servicing Center at: (877) 883-1063.

You can have a Grant Deed prepared with the name changes and have that document recorded with the appropriate County Recorder's office. If you need assistance with the document, any title or escrow company should be able to assist you for a small fee. The Credit Union offers these services as well. We don’t recommend that you attempt to prepare the Grant Deed yourself.

Please send your proof of insurance to the appropriate address below depending on what type of loan you have with the Credit Union:

Type of Loan: Vehicle Loan (Auto, RV, etc.)

PO Box 924293
Fort Worth, TX 76124

Type of Loan: First Mortgage

PO Box 202028
Florence, SC 29502-2028

Type of Loan: Second Mortgage (Home Equity Loan)

PO Box 924293
Fort Worth, TX 76124

Additional ways to submit insurance information for auto loans and second mortgages (home equity loan) include:

  1. Email directly to State National at orangecountyscu@myloaninsurance.com
  2. Upload the required documents to State National at www.myloaninsurance.com/orangecountyscu
  3. Fax information to (877) 815-9423
  4. Information can be taken verbally over the phone by calling (877) 355-8958
Applying for a Mortgage

Prequalification is an informal way to see how much you may be able to borrow. You can be "prequalified" over the phone with little to no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts, and how large a down payment you can afford. The lender will typically retrieve and review your credit report. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at an approximation of the amount you may qualify for a mortgage to purchase a home.

Preapproval is a lender's actual commitment to lend to you and carries much more weight with sellers than being prequalified. Being preapproved involves assembling the financial records (without the property description and sales contract) and going through a preliminary approval process. The lender will review your income and assets documentation as well as your credit history and debt. A preapproval gives you a definite idea of what you can qualify for and shows sellers that you’re serious about buying, putting you in a more favorable negotiating position.

The primary factor is your debt-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your gross (pretax) income to housing and non-housing expenses. Non-housing expenses include such long-term debts as car or student loan payments, alimony, or child support. Many lenders believe you can afford a house if its price is under 2½ times your household's annual gross income. Another rule of thumb is that the mortgage payment, combined with non-housing expenses, should total no more than 43% of income. The lender also considers cash available for out-of-pocket expenses, such as down payment and closing costs, along with your credit history when determining your maximum loan amount.

If you don't qualify, you may have to buy a less expensive home, pay off some debts, or delay your purchase until your income increases. An Orange County's Credit Union Loan Consultant can provide you a prequalification or preapproval to help you learn how much home you may qualify to purchase based on your individual financial circumstances.

Choose your lender carefully. Look for financial stability and a reputation for customer satisfaction. Consider reviewing the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for any complaints filed on the lender you may be considering. Be sure to choose a financial institution that gives helpful advice and that makes you feel comfortable. A lender that has the authority to approve and process your loan locally is preferable, since it’ll be easier for you to monitor the status of your application and ask questions or even meet them in person vs. simply over the phone. Plus, it's beneficial when the lender knows home values, conditions in the local area, and (best yet) you personally.

The APRs offered should also be looked at to find the best deal possible. However, it may be best to pay a slightly higher APR to work with a lender that knows you and with whom you already have a positive relationship. You should also identify if the lender will service your loan. If not, make sure you learn who will service your loan and review any complaints on that loan servicer. Servicing is often more important than your lender as that is the provider you’ll be working with for years after your loan is funded. Is your loan servicer local or can they only be contacted via phone or email?

Your loan officer is there to help you get the best mortgage possible for your specific needs and to make the process as convenient and hassle-free as possible. A good loan officer should provide the following services:

  • Assist you in selecting the best loan to meet your personal needs. This single decision can save you thousands of dollars throughout the years.
  • Keep you informed of your loan status throughout the entire process.
  • Keep your real estate agent informed of the loan progress.
  • Secure the appropriate loan for you at the best rates and fees.

A lender usually requires the follow items to get a loan:

  • Pay stubs for the past 2 months
  • W-2 forms for the past 2 years
  • Information on long-term debts
  • Recent bank statements for the past 2 months
  • Tax returns for the past 2 years
  • Proof of any other income
  • Address and description of the property you wish to buy
  • Sales contract

During the application process, the lender will also order a report on your credit history and a professional appraisal of the property you want to purchase. The application process typically takes between 3-6 weeks.

There are three credit reporting bureaus that Orange County's Credit Union may use. They are:

Equifax®

Experian®

TransUnion®

Typically, we’ll only pull a report from Experian when qualifying you for a consumer loan and a credit report from all three bureaus for a home loan. If Experian is not available, then we may get a report from one of the other bureaus. We report your payment history to all three bureaus. You should be able to contact any or all of them to get a copy of your credit report.

Yes, applying for your loan before you start shopping for your home is ideal. Once your application is approved, we can get you pre-qualified and pre-approved. In some cases, we can pre-qualify you instantly.

A pre-approval offers written documentation that a lender (Orange County’s Credit Union) is fully supporting you and is prepared to finance your home purchase.

A pre-approval can:

  • Help you figure out how much you can afford on a new home
  • Give you stronger negotiating powers, and show real estate agents and sellers that you are a serious buyer
  • Fast-track your mortgage loan process once you find a home you love

To get started, call one of our knowledgeable loan consultants at (800) 506-5070 or apply now.

In order to apply for your mortgage loan and obtain a pre-approval, here are the items you'll need to gather:

  • Recent pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns
  • Address history for two years
  • Work history for two years

Find a full list of documents you'll need to apply for your loan here.*

It’s very important to protect your credit as you start the mortgage loan process. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Stay current on all of your credit payments, and pay off the total balance if possible instead of making minimum payments.
  • If you receive a large deposit, be sure you can track its source and purpose.
  • Remain at your current job, since reliable income is an important part of qualifying.
  • Speak to one of our loan consultants before making any large purchases, and don’t apply for any new credit.

*You'll need to be a Member of Orange County’s Credit Union to fund your home loan.

Yes, we have helped many Members with less than perfect credit find the right home loan. Our knowledgeable, experienced loan consultants can help you determine what steps you can take to ensure your application goes smoothly.

Most of our home loans close in 30 days. However, the time it takes to close your loan will depend on a number of factors, including inspections, deposits made to escrow, and the signing and acceptance of all documentation.

What is happening during the time your loan is closing? After you’re approved, the underwriting process begins. All the terms of the purchase agreement must be met, including the buyer’s depositing of funds into escrow, home inspections, and the signing of all the final documents.

The best way to ensure the quickest possible closing of your loan is to provide all the required documentation as soon as possible, and to review and sign your loan disclosures at your earliest convenience.

Mortgage Loan Rates & Terms

View Orange County's Credit Union’s current mortgage loan rates by clicking here.

Points, also known as discount points, allow you to lower your interest rate by prepaying some of the interest. So instead of repaying the interest on the loan over the loan's life, you can prepay some of the interest up front by paying points. Each point you pay for equals 1% of the total loan amount and reduces the interest rate charged on the loan. When shopping for loans, ask lenders for an interest rate with 0 points and then see how much the rate decreases with each point paid. Paying for points can make great sense depending on how long you expect to own your home, and how much the lender charges for the points.

RESPA stands for Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. It requires lenders to disclose information to potential customers throughout the mortgage process. By doing so, it protects borrowers from abuses by lending institutions. RESPA mandates that lenders fully inform borrowers about all closing costs, lender servicing and escrow account practices, and business relationships between closing service providers and other parties to the transaction. For more information, visit the RESPA website.

In addition to complying with RESPA, lenders aren’t allowed to discriminate in any way against potential borrowers. If you believe a lender is refusing to provide his or her services to you on the basis of race, color, nationality, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, contact HUD's Office of Fair Housing at (800) 669-9777.

There are some fees that come with buying a home, including closing costs. These include appraisal fees, title charges, and taxes. In general, you can expect your closing costs to amount to somewhere between 2-5% of the purchase price of your home.

Fees can be grouped into these three categories:
Third Party Fees

These are fees that we collect and pass on to the person or company who performed the service. For example, a title company is paid the title insurance fee and the credit bureau is paid the credit report fee.

Taxes and Required Fees

State and local taxes, as well as any required mortgage insurance will be required. Also, upfront payment for the first year of your homeowner’s insurance may be required.

Lender Fees

Application fees, discount points, loan processing fees, funding fee, and document preparation fees are charged by the lender. At Orange County’s Credit Union, we limit the amount and number of fees we charge for all mortgage loans. For example, we do not charge a fee for application, processing, or document preparation. We also do not charges fees upfront when you apply for a mortgage with the Credit Union.

An interest rate lock is an agreement by the borrower and the lender on a specific rate for a certain number of days. During that time, if interest rates rise, the lender has to honor the rate that was locked. If interest rates go down during that time, the borrower has to stick with the rate that was agreed to during the lock.

Be sure you understand any fees associated with the rates you see advertised. Not all fees are created equal, so you want to pay attention to the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), not just the interest rate.

Your loan consultant can help you determine when the best time is to lock your rate, and can answer all of your questions about rates, terms, or fees.

Mortgage Payments

Our Loan Servicing Call Center is available Monday through Friday, 5:30 am - 7:00 pm PT at (877) 883-1063.

If you’d like to correspond by mail regarding your mortgage, please address your correspondence to the Mortgage Servicing Center address:

Orange County's Credit Union
PO Box 77404
Ewing, NJ 08628

How payments are made:

Included as part of the monthly statement is a billing coupon for all Members. Members who are on cash pay will no longer receive a one-year supply of payment coupons. They’ll be billed monthly via the new statement. Members who make payments via Bill Pay or some other third-party process will need to ensure the mailing address and loan number is updated accordingly so future payments are directed to the appropriate location and account.

The new Mortgage Payment Processing Center address is:

Mortgage Payment Processing Center
PO Box 54040
Los Angeles, CA 90054-0040

To make payments by phone, please call us at (888) 354-6228. The following applies to all mortgage loan payments made by phone:

  • If the payment comes from your Orange County's Credit Union checking or savings - the payment transfer will be free.
  • If the payment comes from an account held at another financial institution - the payment by phone service we offer is $5.00.

As a reminder, this only applies to first mortgages. Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit will continue to be serviced directly by the Credit Union.

The Mortgage Payment Processing Center address is:

Orange County's Credit Union
PO Box 51301
Los Angeles, CA 90051-5601

We offer a convenient system that automatically debits first mortgage loan payments each month from your checking or savings account.

  • Eliminate the monthly check writing chore
  • Save postage and the cost of checks
  • Prevent lost or delayed payments by mail
  • Have a record of your payment on your bank statement

To take advantage of this free service, simply complete the Automatic Payment (ACH) Authorization, which can be requested through the call center or at a branch, and return it along with an unsigned voided check or encoded deposit slip to:

Drafting Department
PO Box 77417
Ewing, NJ 08628

Or fax to: (609) 718-4740

Established by your lender, an escrow account is a place to set aside a portion of your monthly mortgage payment to cover annual charges for homeowner's insurance, mortgage insurance (if applicable), and property taxes.

Escrow accounts are a good idea because they assure money will always be available for these payments. In some states, the lender or loan servicer is required to pay you interest on the funds you save in an escrow account, which can be another benefit for having an escrow account. Check with your lender or loan servicer for requirement of interest for your state.

A monthly mortgage payment consists of:

  • Principal
  • Interest

If you have an escrow account, the payment can also include:

  • Real estate taxes
  • Homeowner's insurance
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (if applicable)

In some instances, your lender will let you pay your property taxes and homeowner's insurance directly vs. having an escrow account for these payments. However, this tactic requires that you’re disciplined and have the money available when payment is required.

Yes, you can pay your mortgage off ahead of schedule. By sending in extra money each month or making an extra payment at the end of the year, you can accelerate the process of paying off the loan. When you send extra money, be sure to indicate that the excess payment is to be applied to the principal to avoid potential problems. Most lenders allow loan prepayment, though you may have to pay a prepayment penalty to do so. Ask your lender for details.

Home Buying

In general, lenders consider you to be a first-time homebuyer if you haven’t owned a home, vacation property, or investment property in the last three years. Lenders will often verify this information by examining your income tax returns to verify that you didn’t take any deductions for mortgage interest or property taxes.

There are mortgage options now available that only require a down payment of 3% or less of the purchase price. Mortgages with less than a 20% down payment generally require a private mortgage insurance (PMI) policy to secure the loan. For example, if you pay 10% down on a $100,000 loan, PMI might cost you about $40/month or $480/year. However, the actual rate is based on various factors including the size of the loan, the amount of the down payment, and your individual lending institution. The only way to find out the exact amount is to contact your lender directly.

Income Tax Reduction:

In the early years of a mortgage, most of your monthly payment covers interest on the mortgage loan. In most cases, the mortgage interest (and property tax) is deductible from your taxable income, thereby lowering your overall tax liability. Therefore, your after-tax cost of home ownership can often times be lower than renting. There may be tax implications if you later sell the home at a profit. Consult your tax advisor for more information.

 

Tax Deductible Borrowing Power:

As your home equity increases, you can borrow against it for almost any need, including making home improvements, paying for college, or even buying a new car. Because your home equity loan or line of credit is backed by the equity in your home, you may be able to deduct that interest from your taxable income, too. This could lower your final tax liability. Consult your tax advisor for more information.

It’s generally a good idea to start by asking family and friends if they can recommend an agent. Compile a list of several brokers in your area and talk to each before choosing one. Look for an agent who listens well, understands your needs, and whose judgment you trust. The ideal agent knows the local area well and has resources and contacts to help you in your search. Overall, you want to choose an agent that you feel comfortable with, and one that can provide all the knowledge and services you need. If you'd like assistance in selecting an agent, Orange County's Credit Union can provide options for you to consider with the Home Connections program. This program may also provide you savings on the commission rate that agents charge for their services.

There isn't a set number of houses you should see before you buy. Visit as many as it takes to find the one you want. On average, homebuyers see 15 houses before choosing one. Just be sure to communicate often with your real estate agent about everything you're looking for. It’ll help to avoid wasting your time by the agent showing you homes that don’t meet your needs. Looking at several homes also helps you determine what is really important to you and gives you a solid understanding of what you can expect for what you’re willing to spend.

You can get information about school systems by contacting the city or county school board or the local schools. Your real estate agent may also be knowledgeable about schools in the area.  

Other sources to get various information about schools is the National Center for Education Statistics website and the GreatSchools website.

Contact the local Chamber of Commerce for promotional literature or talk to your real estate agent about welcome kits, maps, and other information. You may also want to visit the local library. It can be an excellent source for information on local events and resources, and the librarians will probably be able to answer many of the questions you have. To find the Chamber nearest to you, click here.

Immediately contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) if you ever feel excluded from a neighborhood or particular house. Also, contact HUD if you believe you’re being discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, nationality, familial status, or disability. HUD's Office of Fair Housing has a hotline for reporting incidents of discrimination: (800) 669-9777.

To learn more about filing a complaint, click here.

A home inspector checks the safety and soundness of your potential new home. Home inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will make you aware of any repairs that are needed. 

The inspector doesn’t evaluate whether or not you're getting good value for your money.

Generally, an inspector checks (and gives prices for repairs on): the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, the potential presence of pests, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof.

Be sure to hire a home inspector that is qualified and experienced.

It's a good idea to have an inspection before you sign a written offer since, once the deal is closed, you've bought the house "as is." Or, you may want to include an inspection contingency clause in the offer when negotiating for a home. An inspection contingency clause gives you an "out" on buying the house if serious problems are found, or gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed.

If the house you're considering was built before 1978 and you have children under the age of seven, you’ll want to have an inspection for lead-based paint. It's important to know that lead flakes from paint can be present in both the home and in the soil surrounding the house. The problem can be fixed temporarily by repairing damaged paint surfaces or planting grass over effected soil. Hiring a lead abatement contractor to remove paint chips and seal damaged areas will fix the problem permanently.

There are many benefits to owning your own home, including building strong credit, gaining some tax benefits, and having the opportunity to earn equity in your investment over time. Plus you can create the home you want, whether that means painting the walls whatever color you want or remodeling to make it your dream space. It is also important to remember that as a home owner, you're also responsible for maintenance and repair costs, plus property taxes and insurance.

If you’re looking for a more personalized answer to whether or not home ownership makes sense for you, contact us for a free Total Cost Analysis that can help determine the cost of renting versus buying your home.

Refinancing and Equity
  • It really comes down to understanding how much you’ll pay for refinancing your home versus how much you’ll save. If you are considering refinancing a fixed-rate mortgage to reduce your monthly payments, then the following discussion may help.

  • The decision to refinance a home should be based on whether you’ll own the property long enough after refinancing to recapture the expense connected with the new loan. The way to figure this can be as easy as subtracting the proposed new home payment from the existing payment to find out what the monthly savings will be. Then, divide the monthly savings into the cost of refinancing to determine how many months it’ll take to recapture that cost.

  • There are some situations in which a refinancing decision should be made. If you’re able to negotiate a "no-cost" mortgage (you pay no points or closing costs), and if the new mortgage rate is lower than your existing rate, then refinancing your loan would certainly be of financial benefit to you. If the remaining mortgage balance, including points and closing costs, can be refinanced at a reduced monthly payment, and still be paid off within your existing mortgage payment term, then refinancing would be highly advisable.

  • You can generally count on it being time to refinance when your new mortgage rate is at least one to two points lower than your existing rate, and you plan on staying in your home for at least three to five years. Orange County's Credit Union offers a Total Cost Analysis that can assist you in comparing the savings when considering refinancing. This free home loan financial analysis can save you time and help you identify if or when refinancing is right for your individual financial circumstance.

An appraisal helps determine the fair market value of your home. Once that estimate is determined, the lender can determine how much they're able to lend you based on that value. This ensures that the lender doesn’t lend more than the home is worth.

There are several factors that figure into the appraiser’s assessment of your home’s value, including recent home sales in your neighborhood, upgrades or changes that have been made to your home, and most important, your home’s overall condition.

To complete the appraisal, the appraiser will come to your home for a brief inspection, then will do some additional research and prepare a final report that will be sent to you and your lender.

When your home is worth more than you owe on it, you have built up equity. Home equity is the difference between the current market value of your home, and any loans or liens against it. It’s the value of your interest in the home, or the portion you have paid for and truly own.

That equity will fluctuate over time, as your mortgage loan is paid down and with property value changes.

You can use your equity to help you purchase your next home, or borrow against it with a home equity loan or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

A home equity loan is a lump sum of money that has the same interest rate for the life of the loan. It offers a fixed rate and is ideal for consolidating debt, making a large purchase, or completing a home renovation.

A HELOC is a revolving line of credit that you can borrow against as you need it. You only pay for what you use, and it features a variable rate that fluctuates with the market. HELOCs are helpful for paying tuition, medical expenses, or home improvements, when you need a little extra help.

Which option is right for you? It depends on your situation and circumstances. Talk to a loan consultant to learn more about which option might be best for you.

No, there are no closing costs for a home equity loan or HELOC at Orange County’s Credit Union, as long as you keep your line of credit open for 24 months. You can pay off your loan at any time with no early closure fee. However, if you close out the line of credit in less than 24 months, closing costs will be added to your final payoff amount.

FHA Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) works to make home ownership a possibility for more Americans. The FHA is not a lender but rather an insurer of loans. The FHA issues guidelines to banks and credit unions to follow so that as long as a loan meets those terms, it agrees to insure against loss.

FHA loans are attractive for first-time homebuyers who might not have saved enough for a down payment of 5% or more for a conventional loan or whose debt-to-income ratio is too high to qualify. Applicants should compare the benefits of a conventional loan for a low down payment as they are often available with just a 3% down payment.

The FHA makes loans more accessible by requiring small down payments. There is a minimum down payment requirement of just 3.5% on a home purchase. Many first-time homebuyers make use of the FHA mortgage program.

With the FHA, you don't need perfect credit or a high-paying job to qualify for a loan. Buyers with little or no credit history can secure FHA-insured financing. This makes it especially attractive to first-time buyers.

Applicants are now required to have a minimum FICO score of 580 to qualify for the low down payment (3.5%) option, but if your credit score is below 580, you’ll have to put down a 10% down payment to qualify for a loan.

FHA borrowers are charged FHA mortgage insurance in two ways:

Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) is paid at the time of closing and is equal to 1.75% of your loan. This means that for every $100,000 in your loan size, your upfront mortgage insurance premium paid is $1,750.

The FHA also charges an annual Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) of the average outstanding balance of the loan. The fee is added to the borrower's monthly mortgage payment. Annual MIP rates vary based on the length of your loan, the amount you're borrowing, and your initial loan's loan-to-value (LTV). With a conventional loan, the Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) can be canceled. The Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) for an FHA loan cannot be cancelled and remains for the life of the loan regardless of the amount of equity you have on your home.

FHA also insures a home construction loan product known as the 203(k). 203(k) loans are designated for houses that are damaged or sorely in need of rehabilitation. 

Anyone who meets the credit requirements, can afford the mortgage payments and cash investment, and who plans to use the mortgaged property as a primary residence may apply for an FHA-insured loan. There is no minimum income requirement. But you must prove steady income for at least three years, and demonstrate that you've consistently paid your bills on time.

FHA-insured mortgages have lending limits that differ by county and state. These loan limits are based on Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac limits on conventional mortgage loans. They're also set according to type of home (single-family, multi-family dwelling, etc.). The loan maximums for multi-unit homes are higher than those for single units and also vary by area. Because these maximums are linked to the conforming loan limit and average area home prices, FHA loan limits are periodically subject to change.

To look up the FHA mortgage limits for your area, go to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website or ask your lender for details and confirmation of current limits.

With the exception of a few additional forms, the FHA loan application process is similar to that of a conventional loan. With new automation measures, FHA loans may be originated more quickly than before. And, if you don't prefer a face-to-face meeting, you can apply for an FHA loan via mail, telephone, internet, or video conference.

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Trust Accounts & Estate Planning

Living Trusts

A trust is an arrangement where one person, called a trustee, holds legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary. A "living trust" is simply a trust you create while you're alive. You can be the trustee of your own living trust, keeping full control over all property held in trust.

Different types of living trusts can help you avoid probate, reduce estate taxes, or set up long-term property management.

The major advantage of a living trust is that property left through the trust doesn't have to go through probate before it reaches the people you want to inherit it. Seeing that the average probate lasts for months before the inheritors get anything and can be costly, a living trust makes good sense if warranted by the size of your estate.

Upon your death, property residing in your living trust is transferred to your beneficiaries by your successor trustee – the person you appoint to handle the trust after your death. In many cases, the whole process can take only a few weeks, and you don’t incur any attorney or court fee. Once all of the property has been transferred to the beneficiaries, your living trust will cease to exist.

Depending on the extent of your estate, a living trust isn't much more complicated than a will. With a good self-help book or software package, you can create a valid living trust yourself. Lawyers commonly charge upwards of $1,000 to draw up a simple trust.

Once you get the boilerplate legal language from a book, software package, or an attorney, you’ll be required to define the following information:

  • The name of the person creating and managing the trust
  • The name of the person to take over managing the trust if the current trust manager dies or becomes incompetent – Usually your spouse, child, or close friend
  • The names of the people who’ll receive the property in the trust (your beneficiaries)
  • The name of a person to manage any property left to minor beneficiaries

Once the trust is completed, you must sign it in front of a notary. The final steps are to transfer all property to be distributed under the trust into the name of the trust using a deed or other standard transfer document.

Another option available to you as a Member of Orange County’s Credit Union is discounted pricing on trust services with Affinity Trusts. Through our partnership with Affinity Trusts, you can learn about assigning beneficiaries and establish a living trust.

Please consult a qualified tax professional for tax advice on your specific circumstances. 

Representative Payee Fiduciary Accounts

A Representative Payee Account is an account set up to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for an individual that needs help managing their SSA and/or SSI benefits. The individual seeking to be a beneficiary’s Representative Payee will apply with SSA and is thoroughly investigated to protect the beneficiary’s interest.

Note: A Representative Payee manages Social Security funds only. A Payee has no legal authority to manage non-Social Security income or medical matters.

  • Take care of the beneficiary’s day-to-day needs for food and shelter
  • Use money for the beneficiary’s medical and dental care that’s not covered by health insurance
  • Pay for beneficiary’s personal needs, such as clothing and recreation
  • Save remaining money in an interest-bearing account

The only person authorized to transact, withdraw funds, or close the account is the Representative Payee. The beneficiary isn’t authorized to transact on the account.

Yes, the Representative Payee can obtain an ATM/Debit Card under the Representative Payee account. The ATM/Debit Card should be issued to the rep payee only.

Yes, the Representative Payee can have access to Online Banking.

It’s the job of the Representative Payee to immediately notify the Social Security Administration. This is necessary so that the SSA can select a new Representative Payee. All unused benefits need to be returned to the SSA by the Representative Payee. Once a new Representative Payee is selected, the funds will be reissued. 

For more information, click here.

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