KeyPoint Credit Union Blog


From CEO, Brad Canfield
  • Ready to Pay Off Your Mortgage? Check Out the Finish Line Loan

    Jul 09, 2013
    When you think about it, a mortgage is a bittersweet thing. On one hand, your mortgage is an indication of many positive happenings in your life: you are a homeowner, your credit is good enough to secure a mortgage from a lender, and you are enjoying the American style of life common to Silicon Valley. As a software engineer new to this country, a mortgage often is proof that you are making it in America.
    On the other hand, a mortgage is a tremendous responsibility that often affects many other decisions in your life. You may feel pressured to stay at a job solely because your salary pays for your mortgage. Maybe you hold off on buying a car or taking a vacation because there isn’t enough money in your budget after you pay your mortgage.
    The sooner you pay off your mortgage, the sooner you enjoy greater financial freedom. This is true both for people still working and those heading into retirement. Imagine the burden lifted when you own your home free and clear. And if you ever sell your Bay Area home, you’ll realize greater profits.

    KeyPoint Helps You Reach the Finish Line with Your Mortgage

    With this in mind, KeyPoint Credit Union offers the fixed rate Finish Line Loan, designed to push people toward complete home ownership more quickly. You can refinance your first mortgage with this loan, get a lower rate and shorten the term of your mortgage so you’re not paying so much money in interest charges over the life of the mortgage. It’s most popular to refinance a first mortgage from a longer term to one of 3 to 15 years. With an annual percentage rate of 2.99%, homeowners often find they’ll pay nearly the same amount each month (or even less!) on their refinance as they did their original mortgage because of this lower, fixed interest rate.
    Pay the same amount each month for a shorter period of time? It’s a no-brainer. Plus, the Finish Line Loan is available with no points, no fees and no closing costs. You can borrow as much as $500,000 in the process, and if you need it, you also can refinance into terms of 16 to 30 years.
    If you’re a software engineer from India, you may not want to be saddled with a traditional mortgage term of 20 to 30 years. Consider how the Finish Line Loan can help you by using our charts to compare how your monthly payments could change with a different term. The Los Angeles Times also presented different financial scenarios to illustrate your potential savings.
    And if you’re close to retirement, there’s definitely appeal in getting rid of as much debt as possible before your current income flow is altered. You can apply for a Finish Line Loan today and, as always, we’re here to answer any questions you might have.
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  • Enjoy a Side of History with Your Grilled Food This Fourth of July

    Jul 02, 2013
    Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. It’s always a time for food and fireworks, enjoying the summer weather and taking a moment to acknowledge the truly incredible events that led to our country’s creation.
    Granted, we in California don’t have the history and artifacts of the American Revolution surrounding us like our friends on the East Coast. After all, California didn’t become a state until nearly 80 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. But I’m always amazed to consider that a rag-tag group of Americans throughout the 13 colonies who lacked formal military training believed in their mission so completely that they defeated the mighty British forces (with a little help from our allies, of course). The American story of the Revolutionary War is a story of underdogs prevailing.

    And now here we are grilling steaks and kabobs instead of eating kidney pudding and jellied eels. Can’t we all celebrate that?
    It’s interesting to note that the Declaration of Independence has a place in California history, by the way. During June and July of 1846, American settlers around Sonoma revolted against the Mexican government, which controlled the region. They used the Declaration of Independence as inspiration to secede from Mexico and create the California Republic. They were unable to form a stable government, though, and never were formally recognized. Their revolt lasted 26 days before the U.S. Army arrived to claim the area in the midst of the Mexican-American War.
    The lingering effect? The California Republic adopted the grizzly bear for its flag, and the bear later was incorporated into the California state flag along with the words “California Republic.”
    OK, there’s your history lesson. Now go out and enjoy the holiday responsibly. By the way, if you’re looking for state-approved fireworks, there are 295 California communities that permit their sale and use. Have fun!

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  • 0% Auto Financing Isn’t as Good as It Seems

    Jun 25, 2013
    Commuting into work today, how many of you looked at your dull vehicle, wondered what happened to its overall shine and decided you’re ready for a new ride? Or maybe you have spent too much money, stress, and time away from work trying to maintain your old car.
    Buying a new car sounds like a good idea right now, and it’s a great time to start planning for it. After all, Silicon Valley software engineers like to look stylish behind the wheel. The end of any month always is a good time to buy. The 2014 models will be coming out in the next couple of months, and you’ll be able to haggle with dealers over the 2013 models that they’ll want to move off the lots.

    Be Wary of Strings Attached to 0% Financing

    Undoubtedly, you’re hearing about offers for 0% financing from car dealers that are designed to grab your attention. But if you take a closer look at those offers, you’ll find that they’re not the best deals for you. There often are several restrictions attached to that 0%:
    • You must forego the manufacturer’s rebate.
    • 0% financing applies only to select vehicles.
    • You must take a short-term loan with higher monthly payments.

    Take the Rebate and Finance Through KeyPoint

    You’ll end up with a better deal if you finance your new vehicle purchase through KeyPoint Credit Union and take the manufacturer’s rebate. We’ve created a chart that shows you the difference. Despite a slightly higher APR at KeyPoint (1.99% versus 0%), you’ll actually save money over the life of your auto loan by financing through us.

    If you’re a software engineer who’s new to the country and shopping for a vehicle, go negotiate the best price for the vehicle you want and secure the financing through us. You can apply today for a KeyPoint Credit Union auto loan, even if you’re not yet a member of our credit union. Then cruise Silicon Valley and drop by a KeyPoint branch office so we can admire your new wheels.

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  • Rising Silicon Valley Home Prices Make KeyPoint HELOC a Great Option

    Jun 18, 2013

    At a time when many areas of the country (and even some isolated parts of the Bay Area) continue to experience sagging home values, Silicon Valley real estate is skyrocketing. If you own real estate in Silicon Valley, your home likely is worth a considerable amount of money right now as prices in general reach and exceed pre-housing bubble prices.

    The San Jose Mercury News recently published in-house research that indicates “34 of 185 ZIP codes in five counties have regained or surpassed their bubble-era peak home value or are less than 1 percent from it.” The San Francisco Chronicle’s “On the Block” blog about rising Bay Area prices noted, “Even in this super-charged market, Silicon Valley stands out as over the top when it comes to real estate.”

    Use Your Home’s Equity for Multiple Purposes

    If you’re a software engineer new to the country who purchased Silicon Valley real estate at the right time, you certainly can reap the rewards. The rising prices have some people considering selling and moving into a larger home. If you’re happy with your current home and the American-style life it affords you, now is the time to considering a KeyPoint Credit Union home equity loan or home equity line of credit. The KeyPoint HELOC allows you to take advantage of your Silicon Valley real estate value by borrowing against your home’s equity to fund renovations, make large purchases like a car or boat, pay off debt, or meet other financial needs.

    Our fixed-rate home equity loan allows you to borrow up to $500,000 for up to 30 years with competitive rates and potential tax advantage (consult your tax advisor). And if you’re taking out a new home equity loan, you can close with no fees!

    With our home equity line of credit, you can lock in a low fixed rate for the first 6 months, 3, 5 or 7 years and then you receive a variable regular plan rate as low as Prime after your initial fixed period ends. Your credit line can be as much as $500,000, and if it’s a new HELOC, you won’t pay fees or costs.

    If you’re ready to personalize your new Silicon Valley home or use your equity for another purpose, apply for a HELOC today and take advantage of rising home values!

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  • Special Auto Loans for H-1B Visa Holders

    Jun 11, 2013
    If you’re a software engineer who’s new to the country, life probably has changed quickly for you. As you settle into an American style life in the Silicon Valley, you’ll find you need reliable transportation along with a financial institution that caters to your needs with high-quality checking, savings and loan products.
    KeyPoint Credit Union is dedicated to helping software engineers and other white-collar professionals from India and other parts of the world who are working with our leading tech companies on their H-1B visas. We want you to get acclimated to the Silicon Valley to reduce the stress in your life.
    So we offer special auto loans just for you. If you arrived here with no credit or limited credit, you’ll find that many financial institutions won’t even consider lending money to you for a car purchase. But KeyPoint Credit Union is a different Silicon Valley financial institution, and a customized auto loan is one of our distinguishing elements.
    We provide Silicon Valley software engineers working here on H-1B visas with special loan rates and terms to help them finance the automobile they’ll need to commute to work and contribute to our local economies.
    If your credit history is lacking, don’t worry. Apply today for a KeyPoint Credit Union loan that fits your needs!

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  • KeyPoint Student Checking: It’s Not a Vegetable, but It’s Good for You

    Jun 04, 2013
    If you’re a teenage student or young adult in college, stop reading this now. We all understand that you are all-knowing experts on all things earthly, and unearthly. There’s absolutely no circumstance under which someone older than you would have anything valuable to say to you. No bit of helpful advice. Nothing that could ever be good for you.
    Money management? You’ve got this down pat. (Do teens even say that anymore?) After all, 87% of people between the ages of 12 and 17 claim they know at least an average amount about finances, according to a recent poll. Nevermind that 24% of those same people also think a debit card is used to borrow cash. That’s probably just faulty polling or something their friends told them to say. We get it.

    Parents Looking for Student Checking Accounts

    Instead, allow me to address Silicon Valley parents. Maybe you’re a software engineer new to the country and you believe a good student checking option would help your children understand how to manage their daily finances.
    KeyPoint’s Student Checking is the ideal solution. It’s free for those ages 16 to 26: no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements, and accountholders can access their money from anywhere with mobile banking and online services such as bill pay. There’s also 24/7 support available by online chat or phone.
    With KeyPoint Student Checking, teens and young adults receive a VISA debit card and immediate access to more than 4,000 shared branches and more than 28,000 Co-Op ATMs nationwide with no service charges.
    Teens and young adults will learn that buying the Silicon Valley real estate they dream of starts with understanding the basic principles of money management. KeyPoint’s Student Checking is the perfect place to start, because financial education is an important part of an overall life education.
    So go talk to your kids about Student Checking. Though I suspect some have read through this entire post already, just to be defiant.
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  • Recognizing the Meaning of Memorial Day

    May 27, 2013

    Happy Memorial Day to everyone! I hope you’re spending some personal time with friends and family, reveling in the opportunity to enjoy food and goodwill. May your grills be hot and your drinks cold. It’s easy to think of Memorial Day as a day off from work or school, which it is, but the meaning behind the day is much greater.

    Admittedly, I didn’t know much about the history of Memorial Day aside from the general concept that it is a day to remember servicemen and women who have died in battle defending our country. Flags and flowers are placed on the gravesites of military members, and ceremonies are held at Arlington National Ceremony and throughout the country.

    Placing flowers on soldiers’ graves is a tradition started by women in southern states during and after the Civil War. States throughout the North and South soon observed the tradition and the day became known as Decoration Day. In the 1910s, Moina Michael started the practice of wearing red poppies in honor of dead military personnel on Memorial Day, and the tradition of veterans’ organizations giving away red poppies continues today.

    Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1971, to be celebrated on the last Monday of May. Because it’s always tied to a three-day weekend, some people believe the true meaning of Memorial Day is lost in the midst of parties and other fun activities. In 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed, asking for all Americans to observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time to honor the dead. It’s a simple gesture that causes us to pause and reflect.

    Many of us have relatives and ancestors who died in battle. While it’s important to celebrate our freedoms joyfully on Memorial Day, it’s also important to acknowledge their sacrifices.

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  • Check Out Our All in One™ Mortgage for Savings, Flexibility

    May 21, 2013
    Last week’s average mortgage rates for 15- and 30-year fixed rate loans continued to hover near record lows, which certainly caused some homeowners to consider this is an ideal time to refinance their mortgage.
    Refinancing to a lower rate can save you thousands of dollars over the long term. Imagine if a mortgage could save you even more money simply by the way it is structured. KeyPoint Credit Union offers that enticing possibility to qualified homeowners with our innovative All In One™ home mortgage. If you’re a Silicon Valley software engineer new to the country, this flexible loan could be the perfect opportunity for you to obtain the American-style life you want while saving money over the life of the mortgage.
    The All In One™ mortgage replaces your traditional mortgage with a combination home equity line of credit and checking account so you always have access to money at the same time that it’s paying down your mortgage balance quicker to save you even more money than just a lower interest rate. Plus, you can tap into your home’s equity without refinancing so you can renovate your piece of Silicon Valley real estate.
    Now your money can work harder for you, all because the All In One™ mortgage makes a simple adjustment to the way interest is calculated. Learn more about the loan from noted economist and author Ben Stein.

    If you’re in the market to purchase Silicon Valley real estate or you want to refinance your existing mortgage, contact us today to see if you qualify for our All In One™ mortgage.
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  • Eco-Friendly Vehicles Grow In Popularity Among Consumers and Companies

    May 14, 2013
    How was your drive into work today? There are some days when the traffic patterns between East Bay and the Peninsula leave everyone agitated and stressed. We’re frustrated by the time wasted idling in traffic, not to mention the money we’re wasting in gas or the harmful effect the emissions have on the environment.
    If you’re a Silicon Valley software engineer new to the country, the mass of daily traffic you encounter could be an eye-opening experience. It’s no wonder that people who need a vehicle for their commute are turning to hybrid and electric vehicles as a gas-saving option. Even the clean diesel technology available on the market is an attractive alternative. Commuters may not be able to do much about the traffic congestion, but at least they won’t be burning as much fossil fuel in the process.
    In March, Nissan sold a record number of the all-electric Leaf, and Toyota and Ford continue to corner the overall hybrid market in total sales. If you’re interested in keeping up with hybrid vehicle trends, is a valuable resource that combines industry insight and market research.

    Companies Adding Alternative-Fuel Vehicles to Fleets

    Want more proof of hybrid vehicles’ growing popularity? Companies are starting to add hybrid vehicles to their commercial fleets. “Their accountants are sitting down and figuring out how much extra they’ll pay for hybrid powerplants, how much they’ll save on gas and calculating the difference,” Chris Woodyard noted in USA Today last week.
    Companies are finding that hybrid fleets make sense financially while also adding positive equity to their brand name. Toyota’s Prius wagon is a popular option in the taxi industry and Ford’s hybrid Fusion and C-Max are the signature vehicles in many companies’ commercial fleets.

    KeyPoint Offers Special Loans for Hybrid Vehicle Purchases

    Are you ready to trade in your current vehicle for a new one? Hybrid options might be your best solution. And if you’re one of many software engineers in Silicon Valley settling into your American-style life, a hybrid also could be the perfect fit for you.
    KeyPoint Credit Union strongly supports hybrid vehicles and progressive automotive technology focused on reducing emissions and protecting the environment. We offer our members special low rates when they borrow money for an eco-friendly vehicle as part of our Green Vehicle Loan Program. We’ve compiled a list of eligible Green Vehicles based on emission standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy.
    Our list includes electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, select diesel vehicles, vehicles that run on compressed natural gas and others to provide you a wide selection. As you’re researching and shopping the hybrid market, take some time to look at our loan offers. We’re committed to helping our members get more hybrid vehicles on the roads.
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  • Car Title Loans are Popular but Dangerous Options

    May 07, 2013
    Right now you might be in a financial pinch. If you’re new to Silicon Valley or new to the country and you don’t yet have your finances settled, you could need a quick loan today for an important purchase or payment.
    California and 18 other states allow borrowers to obtain loans using their vehicles as collateral without needing good credit or even proof of employment in some cases. Car title loans are supposed to be short term even though they can be extended, and some must be paid back within 30 days. The catch with these types of loans is the interest rate, and those can be astronomical depending on where you live. Some states have do not cap the interest rate that lenders can charge (which typically is a triple-digit APR) while others limit the interest rate in some way. Other states outlaw car title loans altogether because they’re seen as predatory.

    Drowning in Debt

    KeyPoint Credit Union does not engage in such lending practices, but the car title loan option is so prevalent here in California that we think it should be addressed. Plenty of research and opinions exist about car title loans. The Center for Responsible Lending and the Consumer Federation of America released a detailed report earlier this year that indicates Americans are spending $3.6 billion in annual interest fees on $1.6 billion in loans; and the average borrower renews a loan eight times, paying more than $2,142 in interest for $951 of credit. And as the reported noted, “A typical borrower receives cash equal to only 26% of the car’s value yet pays 300% APR.”, which provides all types of resources and information to vehicle buyers and sellers, warned readers about car title loans but also balanced the debate with some thoughts from a director at the Libertarian think tank Heartland Institute.
    “It’s a good way for some people with few assets to get money and, in many cases, can be less expensive than the alternatives,” Eli Lehrer of Heartland Institute told

    KeyPoint Offers Better Alternatives

    Financial counselors typically agree that car title loans should be avoided. Aside from the exorbitant interest rates, a borrower who defaults on the loan will lose the vehicle to repossession and that vehicle could be the sole mode of transportation to work, school, etc.
    AOL Autos points out that a better alternative could be “paycheck cash advances from your employer, cash advances on credit cards, emergency community assistance, small consumer loans, or borrowing from friends and family.”

    If you’re a software engineer in Silicon Valley and a KeyPoint Credit Union member, we provide borrowing options for people who are struggling financially or have low credit scores. We offer personal loans and lines of credit based on your signature and good name; loans secured against your personal stocks, certificate account or savings account; and loans tailored to people who have been turned down elsewhere or who are new to the country.

    We’re eager to help you find a better solution than risking your vehicle or paying outlandish interest rates. Contact us today!

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