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Harbor Community Bank

Harbor Community Bank 1
Harbor Community Bank 1

Harbor Community BankCredit Cards

Whether you are looking to build your credit or start earning rewards, Harbor Community Bank has the card for you. Each card includes EMV chip technology, verification and monitoring tools, and neural network capabilities to track spending patterns and help prevent and identify fraud. ⇒ https://www.harborcb.com/business/borrow/#credit_cards

Harbor Community Bank Business Credit Cards

Our Visa Business Cards offer two distinctive programs:

  • Visa Business Preferred Points Card – Includes a $49 annual fee and a 25-day grace period on all purchases. Earn 1 point for each dollar spent up to 10,000 points per month. Redeem points for cash back, travel, merchandise, and retail gift cards.


  • Visa Business Card – Includes no annual fee, 25-day grace period on all purchases, and a competitive interest rate.

Call or stop by any one of our branch offices to obtain a current rate quote or apply for a credit card today.


We are a Florida-based financial services company headquartered in Fort Pierce, Florida, with 46 branch locations throughout 18 counties. Our story began in Indiantown, Florida, over 50 years ago as First Bank and Trust of Indiantown. In February 2011, First Bank and Trust of Indiantown became Harbor Community Bank. Since that time, our footprint has expanded along the Treasure Coast, the West Coast, and throughout North and Central Florida.

As the sole subsidiary of HCBF Holding Company, Inc., we specialize in residential, consumer, small business, and commercial real estate lending. We also offer a full range of retail, small business, and commercial banking products and services.

While our footprint has certainly grown, we take pride in playing an active role within the local communities we serve, knowing our customers, and understanding their unique needs. As such, we strive to offer you a highly personalized approach to banking. It is banking the way it used to be, only better. ⇒ https://www.harborcb.com/about-us/

Harbor Community Bank SBA Loans

Harbor offers several Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs1 to suit your business needs. These SBA guaranteed loans are ideal for entrepreneurs who require additional funding to meet their working capital or are looking to establish a new business, acquire or renovate an existing business, purchase or improve commercial real estate, or purchase equipment or fixed assets. Our lenders will work with you to select the program that works best for your individual business needs.  ⇒ https://www.harborcb.com/business/borrow/#equipment_loans

Harbor Community Bank SBA Program Options

  • SBA 504
  • SBA 7(a)
  • SBA Express

Speak to a loan specialist to learn about additional loan options.

1 Eligibility restrictions apply.

Harbor Community Bank Online

As a HarborOne Online Banking customer, you can access your accounts and make deposits whenever and wherever with Online Banking or the HarborOne App. 

HarborOne Online Banking, Bill Payment and E-Bills give you more control over your finances than ever before. You can access your account online, pay your bills and analyze your spending habits and more!

Harbor ONE Bank

Use your mobile device to bank by app or browser. Plus, with Mobile Deposit, you can deposit checks securely using your mobile device. Just point, click and deposit.

HarborOne Mobile features include:

  • Mobile Check Deposit
  • Pay Bills
  • Activate or deactivate your ATM/Debit Card
  • Check the balance and history on your HarborOne accounts
  • Transfer money between your HarborOne accounts
  • Locate HarborOne ATMs and Branches from anywhere

Ways You Can Mobile Bank:

If you are a HarborOne Online Banking customer, download the HarborOne Mobile app and use your current online banking username and password to log in.

Download free mobile applications for popular smart phones like iPhone® and Android™, which are designed to provide the most sophisticated and convenient mobile banking experience.

Text Banking:

Text banking gives you access to your accounts via text (SMS) messages on your phone. It’s a fast, easy way to look up account balances or recent account history by sending a text command to a shortcode. To get started click here for more information and shortcodes.

Mobile Banking is offered as a free service of HarborOne. You must be an Online Banking customer to access all the features of Online Banking. You may incur and are responsible for any charges assessed by your mobile carrier. Contact your mobile carrier for more information. You will be able to use the HarborOne Mobile Banking app and browser-based banking only if you can access the Internet from your mobile device. The display of your account information may vary depending on your phone model. ⇒ https://www.harborone.com/business/banking/online-and-mobile-banking

Harbor Community Bank login

Harbor One Bank  Login Link ⇒ https://secure.myvirtualbranch.com/harborone0457/SignIn.aspx

Harbor One Bank Careers Link ⇒ https://www.harborone.com/about-us/careers


Harbor Credit LLC

Location:1111 6Th Ave. Suite 406San DiegoCalifornia92101United States


Software Development & Design, Software. 


(619) 308-5259

Harbor Credit Articles


If you’re paying too much on your existing car loan, a refinance car loan is the solution. But is it right for you? Ask yourself three basic questions:

  1. Did you obtain financing from the dealer who offers refinance car loans?
  2. Is it possible that another lender may have offered a lower rate?
  3. Are you interested in increasing the equity of your car, reversing the “upside-down” trend of your car’s value depreciating faster than you pay off the loan?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of the questions above, then a refinance car loan may make a lot of sense. And cents. By refinancing, you could literally save thousands over the life of your loan. Consider this example:

You borrow $20,000 at a rate of 13.4% over a period of 5 years, and then refinance after four months to a new, lower rate of 9.1%. You save $2,350 over the remainder of the term.

If you financed your car at a dealership, you probably paid an interest surcharge called Rate Participation. Dealers will generally make money on the interest you’re charged by marking up the rate the lenders provide. Sometimes this rate hike can be 3% greater than what a bank would have quoted you otherwise. In these cases, your current credit rating already qualifies you for a lower rate, one that would result in lower monthly payments.

Fortunately, refinance car loans involve a simple application, and can be completed online in a matter of minutes. This is followed by a phone call from a loan agent who verifies your application and gets you a credit decision. The lender then simply pays off your old loan, and opens your new loan at a reduced rate and payment. In the meantime, you’ll receive some paperwork via post mail for your signature. You don’t have to worry about application fee, pre-payment penalties or hidden charges with Harbor Credit’s no-obligation process.

For even more advice, tips, and general information about refinance car loans, you can visit our Resource Center. This section of our HarborCredit.com features how-to articles, guides, checklists, and a Blog. If you need additional information, or would like to speak with a helpful Harbor Credit customer representative, you can chat live, or call 800.399.4272.


Harbor Credit makes finding car loans online easy. What you do: Fill out a very short form. What we do: Find the best, qualified lender to fit your needs.

Actually, getting car loans online has never been easier. Our forms are not only short, they are simple. So you won’t spend a lot of time filling in field after, after field, after field. Instead, it will take just a few minutes, and once you’ve submitted your information, we will search our nationwide coverage of approved lenders to find the right free car loan quote for you. And don’t worry about your credit score. Whether you are a prime or sub-prime candidate, there is a lender available for you. In fact, we have specific lenders who specialize in bad credit car loans online. No matter what your score is, a representative from a lending company will be in touch to discuss your options and the details.

Harbor Credit’s goal is to get you driving, and it begins with finding the best rates. How do we do it? Each Harbor Credit car loan application is approved on an individual basis. That means that every free car loan quote applicant is carefully screened by a qualified lending institution and then contacted shortly thereafter to discuss the details. 780? 510? Somewhere-in-between? Harbor Credit is focused on providing the services and solutions to help get you a car loan regardless of your credit rating. Rest assured that if there is a qualified lender in our coverage area that can help, we’ll have them contact you promptly.

Your free car loan quote begins here. So, if you’re ready, we are too. We’ll be with you every step of the way, to make the process as smooth as possible, with advice, tools, helpful services and more. Check out our Resource Center filled with how-to articles, checklists, guides and a Blog. If at anytime you need to speak with a helpful Harbor Credit customer representative, you can chat live, or call 800.399.4272.


If you’re buying a used car, and in the process of getting a free used car price quote, there are a few simple tips that can help you find a quality make and model, get the lowest used car quotes, and avoid any “pre-owned” problems.

Fortunately, most used cars today won’t have these problems. With advancements in production in the auto industry, even somewhat older used cars are quality, durable automobiles. As well as a sound investment. First, you’re not paying a large MSRP, like you would for a new car. If you purchase a used car in good condition for a reasonable price, you could save thousands of dollars. Second, depreciation is lessened. Instead of losing value in the first few years, a used car’s value is steady. So, if you’re wise about your purchase, you’ll get more car for less money.

While many used cars today are built to last, it’s still better to be safe than sorry. Once you’ve collected your free used car price quote, research the car thoroughly. Use the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the Vehicle History Report to check on its history. You’ll find these in our Reviews and Recommendations section. Then, schedule a mechanical inspection to inspect the used car thoroughly, inside and out. Common used car problems include, but are not limited to: Prior accidents, possibly salvaged, Unsuited Vehicle Identification Numbers, Odometer rollback, Missing airbags, Auctioned, Smog test failure, or Previously Stolen.

Once you’ve collected your used car quotes, consider purchasing an extended auto warranty, especially if the used car is five years old or more. And of course, test-drive it to check for problems with the handling, engine, transmission, passenger controls, etc.

For even more advice, tips, and general information about the used car buying process, you can visit our Resource Center. This section of HarborCredit.com features how-to articles, guides, checklists, and a Blog. If you need additional information about your free used car price quote, or would like to speak with a helpful Harbor Credit customer representative about an issue besides used car quotes, you can chat live, or call 800.399.4272.


How are auto loan applications approved? No, it’s not arbitrary or Black Magic. It’s actually the complete opposite – a standardized process that involves a lender closely reviewing a list of an individual’s financial statistics to gauge their eligibility. Living up to our credo, we searched high and low to find that list so we could offer it to you.

Below are key factors used to approve (or decline) loan applications. So before you apply for a loan through Harbor Credit, take a look at what lenders look at. Income
Your gross monthly income should be about $2000 per month or more.

Debt-to-Income Ratio
It must be less than 50%. Calculate this ratio by dividing the sum of your total debt (e.g. car payments, credit card balances and unsecured loans; exclude mortgage or property debt) by the sum of your total income (e.g. all sources if income).

Credit Report 
A credit report must exist in your name and all information on the loan application must match it. Remember to complete all fields on the application accurately – with proper format and no typos. Most applications are approved or declined automatically based on entered data.

You can get your credit report

FICO Score
You must have a FICO credit score (Fair Isaac) of 540 or greater (sub prime), 600+ (near prime), and 680+ (prime lender). If you don’t know your credit score, you should get a copy of your credit report.

You can find that

Loan Amount
A new or used auto loan is typically between $5,000 and $50,000, while an auto refinance loan is typically between $5000 and $25000, depending on the length of the loan period. If you need a loan for less than $5000, it’s wise to get a credit card, instead of a loan, with a low APR.

You can shop for a credit card

Employment History
Steady employment is preferable. If you’re self-employed, proof of two years minimum employment history must be provided with tax returns.

Any vehicle that is offered is generally no more than seven model years old (as of January 1st of that year).

Vehicle Type
The lending process is compounded if the automobile is a sports car, motorcycle, collector vehicle, hot rod, or similar type car. Some lenders are also particular with other vehicles such as SUVs and trucks.

Some states have lending restrictions. As a result, some lenders do not offer services therein.

When refinancing, your credit history must show that your current auto loan or mortgage loan payments are not more than 30 days overdue, within the last 12-month period.

Other Considerations
• Complete all fields on the application accurately with proper format and no typos.
• Be sure you work with the most trusted lenders. We provide thorough reviews and can match you with the best lenders.


Part of our mission at Harbor Credit is to make the information in the financial world easy to navigate. The other part is to match our valued customers with the best lenders in the business to fully serve their unique financial needs.

The most common of those needs is to save money, or, at least, to stop spending it where it doesn’t have to be spent. And that’s why, at HarborCredit.com, we’ve made the auto refinance process easy – no, super easy – with a checklist that will save you time and money. In just a few minutes, you can apply and save hundreds – possibly thousands – of dollars over the life of your car loan. So, if have a high APR and want to lower payments, we’ve oversimplified the process to help you do it.

But, is auto refinancing right for you? Visit our resource section to learn about the benefits of refinancing and if they’re appropriate for your financial situation.

If you’re ready, you can refinance your car with the following steps:

  1. Complete our short, secure online application.Please note: If you submit your application during the hours of Monday – Friday, 9AM – 5PM PST, a Loan Specialist will contact you with a decision within 2 hours. If your application is submitted outside normal business hours, you will be contacted the following business day.
  2. Once your application is approved, have the following information readily available:
    • Name(s) on Loan
    • Name(s) on Title
    • Year, Make, Model, Class
    • VIN#
    • Exact Mileage
    • Current Lien Holder
    • Account Number
    • Lien Holder Phone #
    • Additional equipment in the vehicle: (E.g. transmission type, 2/4-door, short/long-bed, CD player/changer, running boards, cruise control, power windows/door locks/mirrors/seats, rack, tilt wheel, etc.)
  3. Next, to expedite the process, have a copy of your driver’s license, 3 personal references, car insurance, car registration, and/or original lease contract (if applicable), ready to fax to the loan specialist.
  4. Then, after speaking with a specialist, you’ll be sent documents that must be returned with your signature. Once these documents are received by the lender, a payoff check will be sent to your existing lien holder.
  5. Finally, once the check clears and title is obtained, the auto refinance process is complete.

It’s that easy. Five steps to a better auto loan. So, if you’re ready to refinance, click here to apply online and let Harbor Credit save you money!


Should you buy or lease that car? Simple. It depends on your personal needs – cash flow, credit status, mileage-per-year needs, etc. Most car buyers, 4 out of 5, finance or pay cash instead of leasing. That’s a significant difference when you consider how many short-term benefits leasing provides. Of course, like any deal in the financial world, where there is a benefit, there is a drawback. That’s why it’s important to understand every angle in financing and leasing. So you can move in a straight line to the deal that’s right for you. For serious help, check out our Lease vs. Buy Calculator to estimate the best, most affordable deals.

So, why buy?
Here are a few good reasons:

  • Steady repayment can build equity.
  • You avoid the repetitive cycle of renegotiating short term leases.
  • You can bask in the comfort of driving a car – your car – without the restrictions of a short term lease.
  • There is an end to your monthly car payments – leasing offers no such relief.
  • Financing a car means never having to worry about mileage limits.
  • Future car owners can also worry less about wear-and-tear.
  • At the dealership, shoppers looking to finance will enjoy large cash rebates and low-interest financing.

Okay, well, why lease?
Here are a few good reasons:

  • Lessees don’t have to worry about owning a depreciating asset.
  • Drivers don’t have to deal with hefty maintenance bills.
  • With a car in good condition, under the mileage limit, lessees can simply return the car.
  • In a time of high interest rates, a lease may offer lower monthly payments, especially with good credit.
  • Consumers can enjoy purchasing flexibility – after a lease term, pick out another car. It’s like a three- or four-year test drive.
  • Lessees will always have the latest safety and technology innovations on the road.
  • Lease plans are rarely 60-month terms – this is common with finance periods.
  • Many consumers can drive away with the latest model, even a luxury car, with less cash upfront.
  • If you’re self-employed, you can write off your leasing payment as a business expense.

So which is right for you? Your answer should begin something like this: “All things considered…” Because when you understand the upside, downside, inside and outside of a deal, you’ll end up reaping the benefits and avoiding the disadvantages in the long run. Whatever the terms of the deal are.

If you’re ready for the bottom line, check out our Lease vs. Buy Calculator where you can enter different deal scenarios, and estimate bottom line prices.

Buying a New Car – Your to-do List

Driving a brand new car, that’s a feeling like no other. Whether it’s the smell of the upholstery or the feel of gliding on new wheels over the highway, that’s a hard-to-match sensation. Of course, the process of getting there can be quite a different feeling. An all too bumpy ride, if you’re not careful.

There is a “right way” to buy a car – somewhat of a formula. Without it the process can be frustrating and confusing. And, as a result, cost you time and money. To avoid wasting either, follow this checklist that will lead you through, up to the ride home.

Step One, research car prices. Know what MSRPs are good, so-so, and just plain bad.

That will help you with Step Two when you request OTD (out-the-door) price quotes from dealers. You can get these for free online.

Tackle Step Three and Step Four jointly. Get your credit report (extremely important) and then search for the best loan rate offer from your bank, other banks, the dealership, or even a family member.

Step Five and Step Six include researching the best insurance companies and requesting rate quotes from them. Most of these are free too, so get as many as possible to make sure you get the best deal. Find the best protection at the most reasonable price.

Step Seven is optional if you have trade-in. If you do, get the estimated value to help with your down payment.

Step Eight, negotiate. Go after your best quote with competing offers – dealers will fight for you, they want your money. When you reach a fair price, jump in!

Introducing the Harbor Credit Blog

Introducing the Harbor Credit Blog. A chance for you to get the real answers, you can’t find anywhere else, from a panel of Advanced Consumers. People who have been there, done that, and then dedicated obscene amounts of time to understanding why it all happened that way, so they could pass their expertise on to you.

But while this Blog is moderated by us, it’s powered by you. Do you have a serious question? We’ve got a straight answer. Want to send us your opinion of a company you did business with or a car you’ve owned? We want to post the review. And to keep the Blog spinning, our panel will submit periodic entries covering the most pertinent topics in the world of finance.

The goal is to create a unique forum for all consumers to discuss, analyze, and learn about topics such as credit, lending, auto finance and auto refinance, and more. So come one consumer, come all. Our Advanced Consumers are here for you.

Don’t Fear the Inquiry – Get your Credit Report

Requests for your credit report are labeled as inquiries. And these inquiries can remain on your report for up to two years, possibly affecting your credit score.

But fear not.

When you’re comparison shopping for a secured loan, whether it’s for a mortgage or an auto loan, the credit scoring model doesn’t aggregate inquiries to negatively impact your score. It even helps to do rate shopping within a focused period of time. FICO distinguishes between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which the requests occur.

Other types of inquiries do not affect your score either. Such as “consumer-initiated” inquiries – requests you’ve made. Or “promotional inquiries” – requests made by lenders to “pre-approve” you for credit. Even “administrative inquiries” – requests made by lenders to review your account. And your score is never affected by an employer request.

So don’t fear the inquiry. If you’re smart about it, you won’t hurt your credit score. In fact, obtaining your credit report will allow you to check for identity theft, fraud, and errors. It’s worth it.

Ask the Expert – Checking Credit Reports

Q: I need some advice Harbor Credit. I’ve heard it’s important to check my credit report regularly, looking for errors and theft. What does REGULARLY mean? What errors should I look for? What can people steal? Help!

A: Consumers should keep track of their credit profile to make sure they are being treated fairly and beneficially by lenders and to keep tabs on identity theft. We recommend checking your credit report twice a year. Possibly more, if you anticipate applying for a big loan or are trying to improve your credit profile.

Reports include a lot of information from a variety of sources, so it’s not uncommon for there to be errors, notations, or misinformation about your credit history. Checking your report regularly and alerting the agencies when changes need to be made can prevent lending hassles as well as identity theft. For instance, if someone has opened a credit account in your name and ran up a balance.

Federal law requires each of the major agencies to provide consumers with a free copy of their report each year. And the worst time to find out about a problem in your credit rating is when you are applying for it. So get yours!

Ask the Expert – Improving Credit Scores

Q: in the past month, i’ve been working overtime to improve my credit and my fico score. so, how long will it take for it to go up? and is there a limit to how many points it can increase in a period of time? thanks – greg, irvine

A: Unfortunately Greg, there aren’t any specific rules governing how long it takes for your credit score to increase, or how much it can, during a particular period time. Depending on how you’re working to improve your current debt, be it credit cards, mortgage, etc., it can change from month to month. However, most of us won’t see any change greater than 30 points during a three-month period.

Save Your Credit – Stay up-to-date with your credit report and FICO score

Few people know their current credit score. Even fewer know how it all adds up. And that’s unfortunate, because a person’s credit rating is the basis on which all lending decisions are made. Be it a bank, a car dealership, or a new landlord, they’re all glaring at your FICO score to see if you’re “credit-worthy.”

So are you? There are a few things you can do to make sure your credit, your credit report, and your credit score stay in tiptop shape.

Financial experts recommend you regularly review your credit report, report any errors immediately, and pay bills on time. Basically, take an active role in managing your own credit history. Doing these simple things can help you avoid debt, identity theft, and maintain a high credit score – 720 and above. With a poor credit score you’ll be denied loans and paying high interest rates even if you do get approved.

Monitor your report from all three (yes, there are three) major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Each U.S. consumer is entitled to get one free credit report per year, from each of the three major credit bureaus. Here’s a tip, think about staggering your requests for free credit reports and get a different one every four months. That can help you monitor your credit history on an ongoing basis.

Consumer Review: 2004 Toyota Corolla

I want to submit a review for my 2004 Toyota Corolla. It’s got all the basics, engine, windows, etc., but there are a couple other features that make this car cool.

Very economical – low MSRP, pretty high gas mileage
Almost everything is automatic (More on this later)
Cruise control buttons are on the steering wheel
Fold-down seats in back extend trunk space
Emergency hatch release inside trunk (Haven’t had to use this yet, but you never know)
Outlet (for charging cell phone, etc.) is hidden in the center console so anything plugged in won’t show.

Gutless – the engine is not very powerful
Seats are not automatic (I said “almost” earlier)
Steering wheel cannot be adjusted very high
It doesn’t come with someone to clean it (It wasn’t offered as an option)

I’d give the 2004 Toyota Corolla 4 stars out of 5.

Under the Microscope – What Lenders Look for When Approving Auto Loans

Auto loan applications are approved or disapproved through a standardized process that entails a lender closely reviewing a list of an individual’s financial statistics to gauge their eligibility.

Whew, that’s a mouthful. But, by understanding exactly what is required to receive a loan, then you begin to remove the mysteries from the application process. Less guessing. Less waiting. Less anxiety. With this list, you can prepare yourself to further ensure an approval.

  1. Income – It should be about $2000 per month or more.
  2. Debt-to-Income Ratio – It must be less than 50%.
  3. Provide a valid Credit Report.
  4. FICO Score – Yours should ideally be 540 or greater.
  5. Loan Amount – Typically between $5,000 and $50,000, while an auto refinance loan is typically between $5,000 and $25,000, depending on the length of the loan period.
  6. Employment History – Steady employment, for approximately one year is preferable.
  7. More collateral, the better.
  8. Type – The loan process is compounded when the vehicle is a sports car, motorcycle, or hot rod.
  9. State – Some states have lending restrictions, including AL, AK, HI, LA, TN, and WI.
  10. Refinancing – If refinancing, none of your current loans can be overdue.

Beyond that, remember to:

  1. Complete all fields on the application accurately with proper format and no typos.
  2. Work with only the most trusted lenders.
  3. Consider applying online. It is secure and fast.

Lenders favor the prepared applicant. And with all the necessary information, you’ll avoid the anxiety inherent in the loan application process, and be better prepared for approval.

For a more in-depth look at lender decision criteria

Consumer Review: Esurance.com

I went shopping for auto insurance in Nov. for my daughter on the web and came across Esurance.com. I hadn’t heard very much about them… but I just got a DVR, so I don’t watch ads very often.

I was surprised with their options and service. Really impressed! And, when I saw the company review on HarborCredit.com, I had to write and say that I totally agree! Although the application process was kind of difficult to get through, I haven’t had any problems with customer assistance. And that’s what it’s all about.

This is I need: good coverage and helpful service on demand. Esurance had both. I give’em 4 of 5 stars!

Consumer Review: SmartAutoWarranty.com

I needed extended warranty coverage for a used car I just got and found it on SmartAutoWarranty.com. They seem to be a lot like Harbor Credit… a company founded by consumers. This is what we need! More businesses looking out for the consumer!

The process was painless and was pretty fast. That’s why I loved SmartAutoWarranty.com. A+ warranties… A+ service… 5 stars!!!

Buying a used car – More Than To-Do’s, These Are Must-Do’s

Is a used car a “smart buy?” Absolutely. In recent years, automakers have taken long strides in automobile design quality, vastly improving performance and durability. As a result, second and even third owners are making sound, multi-year investments. Less depreciation. Lower payments. Lower insurance. The list goes on. So, if you’re looking to purchase a car, consider one that’s used or pre-owned. And, begin with the following:

Step One, thoroughly research car prices to gauge average MSRPs. That way, in Step Two, when you request price quotes (these are free, so get as many as you can), you know what OTD (out-the-door) prices are the best offers.

Step Three is very important. Get your credit report. Your FICO score will affect the APR of your car loan.

Step Four, request rate quotes. Explore your bank, other banks, the dealership and your family, for the best loan rates. This could save you thousands of dollars.

In Step Five and Step Six, thoroughly research the best insurance companies and request rate quotes from them. Find the coverage that most suits your needs and doesn’t empty your wallet.

Step Seven is to calculate your old car’s trade-in value, if you have one. Use Kelly Blue Book to do so.

Step Eight, run vehicle history checks using VINs (Vehicle Identification Number). It’s better to find a lemon before you purchase it, rather than when you’re driving it.

Step Nine. Get an extended auto warranty to cover any surprise repairs. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Step Ten means negotiating your used car price. Every salesman wants your business, so find the lowest quote and offer that to your preferred dealer.

Following this ten-step process can help make purchasing a used car a much simpler process. You can read a more in-depth version here, where you’ll find useful links to complete any of the steps.

Consumer Review: 2004 Audi A4 Avant 1.8 Turbo

I drive a 2004 Audi A4 Avant 1.8 Turbo, and quite frankly it is an amazing car to drive. The all-wheel drive has Porsche-like handling and the motor is powerful for a 4 cylinder. It’s faster, more responsive, and gets better gas mileage than my last car, a BMW 5-Series. Someone forgot to tell this thing it’s a station wagon!

That’s the upside. The downside is that it has been in the shop 3 times in a span of 24,000 miles for problems with the turbo-powered motor. Needless to say, it’’s a bit temperamental. In addition, the car runs through tires very quickly. I’ve already replaced all 4 in the few miles I’ve driven, and that’s not cheap – 17″ low-profiles.

I’d give the 2004 Audi A4 Avant 1.8 Turbo 3.5 out of 5 stars. If it’s in your price range, you should consider it!

Anaheim, CA

An Auto Dealership’s Service Department is Still a Dealership

Just because you’re in the service department, doesn’t mean you won’t be approached by a dealer with an offer. In fact, at a few dealerships, salesmen consider this area a good source for leads. For instance, if you are unfortunately having the transmission fixed on your older model car for $2,500, a salesman may approach you and propose the benefits of owning a new car. In this case, you wouldn’t have to worry about repairs and put that cash (you were going to spend it anyway) towards a down payment.

Whether or not this is a bad deal depends on your circumstances and the details of the offer. Never make an uninformed decision. And, of course, Harbor Credit will work to help you make the right one.

HC’s Top Blogs – PFAdvice.com

HC’s Top Blogs – CreditBloggers.com

A number of blogs tout the “ultimate forum for financial advice” title. Though, few can back it up with serious advice and straight answers. CreditBloggers.com is one of the exceptions. From credit issues and loan questions, to avoiding debt and preventing identity theft, this site offers sound advice from leading experts. Although you won’t hear much from the average consumer, save for a question and blurb or two, you will get guidance from professionals. In fact, the Blog is moderated by Emily Davidson, formerly a TransUnion consumer credit expert.

Negotiate Wisely for Your New Home

Do your homework. Understanding more about the seller you are dealing with can help you during negotiations. For example, “motivated sellers,” or owners that are ready to move out immediately, are more amenable to a speedy escrow and might offer a below-market price. A motivated seller might have to transfer for work, be a divorcee, or have already purchased another home.

Contrarily, never reveal too much about your situation to another party or agent. For example, your budget or why you’re looking to buy.

Know the market. Check recent sale prices of comparable homes to see if your dealer’s price stacks up. Sites such as Home Gainprovide thorough home listings. Fact is, a listing price should only be a starting point – an ideal price for the seller, not you.

Never get rushed into making a decision about purchasing a home. Needless to say, a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, so make sure you’re comfortable with the bottom line.

Be careful of low-ball offers. While these can be advantageous during negotiations, they can also discourage a seller from negotiating with you at all.

Finally, if you have doubts about your negotiating skill, hire someone to help.

For all your home buying and selling needs, Harbor Credit recommends Home Gain.

New Car Negotiations – Beware of the First Pencil

If you’re about to begin negotiations for a new car, beware of the First Pencil at some dealerships. This is a term, more commonly used by salesman behind closed doors, which refers to the initial price you receive when you get a quote on a new car. The number tends to be eye-popping – much higher than the dealer expects to sell the car for – with the idea being to show you an inflated price and then move down slowly from there. Eventually, you’ll reach a price the dealer actually wants to sell the car for – probably still more expensive than it should be. But now, that quote seems reasonable because the cost of the car has dropped drastically in a short period of time and it seems that the deal is working in your favor.

Not so. If you’re smart, you’ll reject the First Pencil. If you’re smarter, you won’t fall for surprise rebates or special incentive programs that the dealer happens to remember to help reduce the price. Get to the bottom line you want.

Auto Safety – Keeping Young Drivers Safe

Following a few simple guidelines can reduce the risk of accidents on the road while a teenager is behind the wheel.

• Driver’s Education programs do not reduce crashes. They only help with basic driving skills, rules of the road, etc. A driver’s real knowledge comes from experience. And more knowledge translates into safer decisions. So, after your teenager completes the program, invest more time in parent-supervised driving.

• Invest in safety features too. Safety should be the number one priority when shopping for a young driver’s new or pre-owned car.

• Restrict night driving/weekend driving. The rate of fatal accidents increases during the night and weekend.

• Don’t let your kids drive around with other friends or talk on the cell phone while driving. Many serious accidents occur like this.

• Many states have laws preventing driving after 10 p.m., a zero alcohol tolerance, and rules preventing more than one young passenger with a beginning driver. Regardless, enforce these laws at home.

We can’t ride in the passenger seat all the time. But by following these guidelines, we might be able to rest a little easier knowing they’re driving a little wiser.

Understanding Auto Loans: The difference between simple interest and pre-computed

Here are some basics:

Simple interest refers to an auto loan in which the payments between the principal and interest can be viewed as two separate entities. In other words, your monthly payments are allocated between interest and principal. The amount of each payment allocated to interest is calculated based on your unpaid principal balance, the interest rate on your auto loan, and the number of days since your last payment.

A pre-computed auto loan, on the other hand, acts as a single entity and frontloads the interest expense in the primary years of the loan’s term and in essence, acts as a prepayment penalty (even if the lender claims there is none).

To determine your loan type, read the contract agreement thoroughly before signing. There should be information regarding how the interest on your loan is calculated and whether or not there is an explicit prepayment penalty.

Used Cars and the Wake of Hurricanes

Beware of used cars that have been damaged in recent hurricanes. They are just now popping up on used car lots – particularly in the south – and websites nationwide and, if they’ve been salvaged at all, are being sold, side by side, with other used cars. It’s somewhat difficult to tell the difference, especially if you’re a bargain shopper desperately looking for the best deal.

New Car and Used Car Research – Forget-Them-Not Resources

For all the research Harbor Credit recommends you do, when searching for a new car or used car, don’t overlook the simplest resources for quality information: your friends, your family, and even, yourself.

For example, ask your friends and family about the new cars and used cars they currently own – the make, the model, the way they run, the way they feel, reoccurring problems, the ups and downs of long-term ownership; even ask them to go for a short drive (if you haven’t already). This will give you some good insight into a variety of cars and whether or not a particular model fits your needs.

Another good resource for information is your own automotive past. Don’t be surprised that an automaker with an impressive model from the mid-90s will impress you further with their latest model. Or vice-versa.

It’s all about collecting real, honest feedback – from car owner’s bliss to buyer’s remorse – and utilizing it to make a smarter purchase. In the end, you’ll get a number of unique perspectives into the new car and used car buying process. Something all shoppers can never have enough of.

Ask the Expert – Lemon Law

Q: What’s the Lemon Law and how does it work with used cars?

Auto Loans & Auto Refinance Approval Depend on Fixing Credit Report Errors

The first step to disputing an error in your credit report is to obtain proof that one has been made by contacting the creditor responsible. It’s not required, nor is it easy to get a response, but it’s always helpful to have this statement in writing, with the creditor agreeing that there is a mistake.

Next, you’ll have to contact the major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion – to inform them of the error. More often than not, you’ll have to contact all three, because the error probably exists in each of the three reports. The bureaus should investigate within 30 days.

Remember to keep records of everyone you talk to, including names, positions, and contact information such as a phone number or email. It can be difficult to deal with the bureaucracy of these institutions, and providing this information can help expedite the process of calling (and calling and calling and calling – unfortunately, it may come to this). Follow your phone calls up with a letter that includes your full name, account number, and error in dispute. After 60 days, follow up with another phone call to make sure the error has been corrected.

Don’t Bother with New Car Credit Insurance

After finalizing a new car purchase, dealerships often offer you a deluge of additional products you can buy.

One is credit insurance – a product that pays for the outstanding balance of a loan should a person become disabled or pass away. Don’t bother with it. If you think you need disability or life insurance, get a single policy from another trusted source that covers all your major outstanding loans, including auto, mortgage, and education.

Another extra is an extended warranty. In some cases, purchasing a warranty from your new car’s manufacturer may offer the best protection and price. However, it’s best to do your research, as many other warranty providers may offer competitive rates. And the best provider will allow you to cancel this service at anytime.

Ask the Expert – Secured vs. Unsecured Debt

Q: Dear HC: I see the words secured debt and unsecured debt everywhere. What’s the difference?

A: A secured debt is a term used to describe a debt, such as a mortgage loan, that is backed by a lien against collateral, most commonly a borrower’s property. If the debt is not repaid, the lender may repossess the collateral to recover the money owed.

An unsecured debt is a debt that is not guaranteed by the pledge of any collateral and has a higher interest rate than other loans. Good examples are credit cards.

Using Home Equity to Pay Off Loans – Some Pros and Cons

Restructuring your debts through a home equity loan has its pros and cons. Consolidating at a lower interest rate, over a longer period, can make managing your debt easier, but you’ll probably end up repaying more than you originally borrowed. A home equity loan also securitizes some unsecured debts, which puts your house at risk, if for some reason you don’t make the new payments. You can pay off credit cards as well – always a good idea, as plastics tend to charge high APRs, putting a high price on unpaid debt.

New Car & Used Car Dealer Incentives – Getting bigger. Getting better.

It was roughly five years ago after 9/11, with the economy in sharp decline, that dealer incentives became customary at new car and used car dealerships. Before that, especially prior to the turn of the millennium, customers were lucky to keep the pen they signed the contract with.

In the present market, multi-thousand dollar rebates and zero percent financing have quickly becoming one of the biggest deciding factors for shoppers. Unfortunately, only a small percentage actually get to enjoy them, as the biggest deals usually include credit stipulations and are mainly offered on older or overstocked models.

But all that is changing. Dealer incentives are already an integral part of the new car and used car buying process, and studies suggest that these “perks” will continue to expand as the market becomes more competitive. Especially when consumers purchase online. And that means more savings.

Buying a New Car? An Argument for Economy-Class Cars (not that you needed one)

According to a national report released on May 1st 2006 by the AAA, the current cost for regular unleaded fuel is $2.91 per gallon, while premium unleaded is topping out at $3.20 per gallon.

This ongoing trend of steep price climbs is probably the best reason for new car buyers to shop for economy-sized models, possibly even hybrids. Sure, hybrids can run about $3,000 more than a gas-powered automobile, but it may be worth it. If you invest a little now, you can save a lot later – tax breaks, insurance breaks, and less trips to the pump.

New Car Pop Quiz – Are you ready to buy?

For many first-time new car buyers, where to begin the process often proves to be the hardest step. So, Harbor Credit created a yes-or-no five question pop quiz to help them better understand what it takes to get rolling.

Fact is, too many shoppers aren’t doing their homework when it comes to a purchase. And if you don’t do your homework, you won’t do well on a pop-quiz. So, if you answer “no” to any of the questions below, you may not receive the best deal possible.

Did you create a budget?
You should know how much car you can afford. Don’t forget to factor in any and all vehicle related costs outside of the monthly payment, including insurance, warranties, fuel, taxes, and more.

Have you shopped around?
Research. Research. Research. Visit dozens of dealerships online and shop for special deals (typically offered if you purchase via the web) before you decide on a particular car. Keep copies of everything, such as quotes and rebates, in an orderly fashion. The more information you have, the more prepared you’ll be.

Do you have your credit report?
Your credit history is vital in obtaining a loan. With your credit report in hand, you can correct any errors and shop for the best APRs possible.

Do you know how APR works?
Besides your credit history, lenders look at a series of factors to determine your qualifications for a loan. That includes the price of the vehicle you would like to purchase, the availability of manufacturer incentives, the amount of your down payment, your debt repayment options, and the length of the finance contract.

Do you understand the gobbledygook?
Do you know the difference between leasing and financing? Credit insurance? Guaranteed auto protection? Educate yourself on all these industry-related terms.

Didn’t get a good grade? Harbor Credit offers vast resources regarding new car buying, used car buying, financing, and more in our resources section. We invite you to visit and do all the studying you want.

Crude oil. Tax deductions. It’s all old news when it comes to new hybrid cars.

Besides saving at the pump, the latest perk to owning a hybrid car is a tax credit – replacing the tax deduction, which until December 31, 2005, allowed tax payers to reduce their total income before the amount of tax liability was calculated. But since 2005 has come and gone, taxpaying hybrid owners will now enjoy a tax credit, which applies after the amount of tax liability is calculated.

For hybrid vehicles purchased on or after January 1, 2006, the credit may be as large as $3,400 for the most fuel-efficient vehicles. In years past, the tax deduction was only $2,000, so this new incentive may be sweet music to some ears.

However, full credits are only available for a limited time. Owners can claim the full amount until the end of the first calendar quarter or until the manufacturer records its 60,000th sale.

Does your hybrid car meet the requisites? Enacted by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the IRS acknowledges the certification of the following 2006 model vehicles for the tax credit:

•  Ford Escape Hybrid, Front Wheel Drive: $2600
•  Ford Escape Hybrid, Four Wheel Drive: $1950
•  Honda Accord Hybrid: $650
•  Honda Insight (automatic only): $1450
•  Honda Civic Hybrid: $2100
•  Lexus RX400h, Two Wheel Drive: $2200
•  Lexus RX400h, Four Wheel Drive: $2200
•  Mercury Mariner Hybrid, Four Wheel Drive: $1950
•  Toyota Highlander, Two Wheel Drive: $2600
•  Toyota Highlander, Four Wheel Drive: $2600
•  Toyota Prius: $3150 (also applies to 2005 model)

Driven by Customer Testimonials

For a company founded on and dedicated to high-quality service, there are few things as gratifying as a little praise from our most valued customers.

That’s why in this entry, we would like to show our appreciation of Frances Carvalho, a satisfied Harbor Credit customer who recently bought a Toyota through Harbor Credit’s trusted affiliates and with the assistance of our Customer Support Service Team.

Automakers Making Compact Cars Cool

Lighted cup holders. iPod stations. Rotating rear speakers. Chilled glove compartments. Rear cargo lights that double as rechargeable flashlights. These are just a few examples of what automakers are packing into their latest compact car models to increase the “cool factor” and attract young buyers.

While mp3 holders and mini refrigerators might seem insignificant to some buyers, new car features like these are attracting a whole new audience – the young adult purchasing his or her first new car, or a twenty-something looking for an economical, but stylish, second new car. A majority of these makes and models start well under $20,000, making them great for a budget and even better to show-off. For instance, Toyota’s very popular Scion line offers extensive customization, starting at $13,320, and allows buyers to choose everything from side-panel graphics to glowing interior foot-wells.

For this style-conscious consumer, new cars that offer economy wrapped in cool versus the traditional rides like SUVs and hotrods, is no contest. Why not save the earth in a new car that makes fellow drivers speed up to check it out?

Selling Your Used Car? Check out Auction123.com.

April 5th, 2006

As premier resource that reaches millions of interested buyers, eBay has become a popular choice for selling a used car. And Auction123 makes this process an easy one.

After being founding in 2000, Auction123.com (www.auction123.com) has quickly become a great alternative for consumers who want to sell their car. Since then, the company has developed methods to increase sales via the Web with enhanced listing software solutions and services. Solutions and services that are as effective as they are inexpensive (less than $20 per listing, plus eBay fees).

Auction123.com is a “Dealer Assistant Trained by eBay Motors” with extensive eBay Motors experience, although they do not simply list your vehicle on eBay.com. They understand that with over 25 million items on eBay, it’s not just about being listed. It’s about being found. Through an array of affiliations, vast experience, and tested sales methods, Auction123.com is able to generate 2-3 times as many page views as competitive sites, and is frequently placed in the top search results. In fact, the company has listed over 100,000 vehicles on eBay in the last three years – valued at more than $2 billion – with impressive sell rates. That kind of service and success makes Auction123 our kind of company. One we’re happy to model ourselves after.

Used Cars – What it Means to be Certified Pre-Owned

Sales of used cars have increased 46 percent since 2000 (J.D. Power and Associates), thanks in large part to certified pre-owned cars – the trusted, affordable alternative to purchasing a new car.

What it means to be certified pre-owned is simple: used cars that are sold by a dealer and feature warranties that extend beyond the initial “when new” coverage and are backed by the original vehicle manufacturer. That is, the original manufacturer of the vehicle offers support for the vehicle for a period of time beyond the original warranty, after inspection.

Not all used cars qualify as certified pre-owned, and terms vary from one make to the next, but any true certified pre-owned program will include at least a 100-point inspection of the car from battery to bumper. For example: Acura’s certified pre-owned cars include a 150-point inspection and a six year extended warranty; Lexus offers an “exclusionary warranty,” something they compare to new car coverage; and Toyota offers a 160-point inspection, a vehicle history report, and up to a 7-year/100,000 mile roadside assistance warranty.

If problems are found during inspection, the used car will either be fixed or disqualified from the program before it is sold. The certified warranty protection typically takes effect when the original warranty expires.

But no matter what the sticker in the window says, be sure to research the used car you’re interested in. That means a personal mechanical inspection and research, such as obtaining the VIN and Vehicle History Report.

Hybrid Cars — Break the bank now. And fix it with a tax break later.

Sure, new hybrid cars are expensive, sometimes as much as $6,000 more expensive than a comparable model with a conventional gasoline-powered engine. But, the amount of money you spend on the lot could eventually pale in comparison to the amount of money you save down the road (pun very much intended).

Of course, there’s the money you won’t spend at the pump. Hybrid cars mean filling up less often. And, with the national average of gas prices hanging around $2.50, savings like that will add up. The higher prices rise, the easier it is to recoup the extra cash spent when you bought the car.

Then, there’s the less known tax break a hybrid car owner receives. For cars purchased in 2005, the government offered a $2,000 tax deduction. For people in the 25% tax bracket, that meant a tax savings of $500, and the deduction is being taken in tax returns this year. In 2006, the federal government introduced a new tax credit, which represents a one-time reduction in federal taxes, which will be taken for next year’s returns.

Though the amount of the credit varies from model to model, depending on its fuel economy, weight, and tailpipe emissions, one thing remains the same – long term savings.

So, if you’re patient enough about money saved (and looking to do your part to save the environment) here is a list of the most popular hybrids according to Splice.com:

• Toyota Prius
• Honda Accord Hybrid
• Ford Escape Hybrid
• Honda Insight
• Toyota Highlander Hybrid
• Lexus RX 400H
• Mercury Mariner Hybrid
• Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid
• GMC Sierra Hybrid

New Car Smell Rumors – Facts or Fallacies?

March 13th, 2006

A secret formula? A hazard to your health? Before you buy into the industry rumors, that new car smell is neither a conspiracy by automakers to tempt you to buy the latest model, nor toxic.

The scents you smell when you climb into new cars are odors emitted by certain plastics and adhesives. No doubt, it is an unmistakably unique smell. But the truth is, it’s merely a byproduct of factory-line production.

Of course, the smell of a new car fades. And once it has, there is no scientific proof (or studies for that matter), which show that car owners are somehow enticed to shop for a new model in order to regain the scent. There has however, been some speculation that these scents might be slightly harmful. According to Doug Brauner, Sacramento Bee Columnist, and cited research, a study published by a New Jersey-based Scientific Instrument Services Inc., referring to tests done on a 1995 Lincoln Continental:

The contamination of indoor air is caused by emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from a variety of sources, including fabrics, upholstery, carpets, adhesives, paints, cleaning materials as well as from exhaust fumes outside the vehicle.

Contrarily, Brauner’s article also goes on to say that many engineers are skeptical that these VOCs were present in large enough quantities to pose a significant health risk.

For those who are sensitive to these types of VOCs, or are just interested in reducing any possible exposure, the remedy may be as simple as circulating fresh air through your car, especially in the early months of owning a new car.




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