Thinking about purchasing a new or used car, truck or motorcycle? Now is the time.

The St. Thomas Employee Federal Credit Union has decreased its “newer” vehicle rates by 1 percent for all eligible borrowers. “Newer” includes any vehicle, new or used, with a model year of 2004 or newer. The credit union also is offering even better rates to those with high Beacon (credit) scores: With a Beacon of 800 or above, the five-year loan rate is now 3 percent; with a Beacon of 700 to 799, the five-year rate is 3.5 percent.

These rates can be increased by .25 percent for a six-year loan for a new vehicle, or can be decreased by .25 percent for each year less in term of loan. They also can be decreased by another 1 percent if the vehicle being purchased is a hybrid.

Base rates for those with Beacon scores lower than 700 are as seen on this chart from the credit union website.

The discount indicated in the chart is based on the applicant’s Beacon score on a credit report pulled by the credit union at the time of application. The higher the Beacon score, the greater the discount.

With the credit union’s ongoing hybrid special, an additional 1 percent can be deducted from the rates indicated on the chart for a hybrid vehicle

The credit union is obligated to all its members to lend prudently. Generally, a Beacon score of 650 or above is considered acceptable, and the approval process is fairly quick. Beacons of 550 to 649 are considered questionable and must be reviewed and decided upon by the credit union board. Beacons of less than 550 are considered unacceptable and are generally denied, although applicants can request that the board review their applications.

Vehicle loans can be used to purchase a vehicle, refinance a vehicle that is financed elsewhere, or to borrow against the “equity” in a vehicle you own free and clear. A new loan cannot be used to refinance an existing loan at the credit union.

For more information on this and other rates and specials, call the credit union, (651) 962-6660, or visit the credit union website.

Loan applications are available in a rack across from the credit union office, Room 209, Loras Hall, accessible any time that the building is open; applications also can be requested by phone or e-mail.