All posts by USAgencies

Letter from the CEO: Together, we brave the storm

2020 created the “new normal” way we do things in our daily lives, including limited in-person interaction, social distancing, and getting used to virtual meetings. We understand visiting our branch is not always easy, especially during an unprecedented time like this, which is why we always look for ways to stay connected to our members. We recently implemented a text messaging system so our members can text us during business hours to take care of their banking needs, this is one extra layer of convenience we provide our members.

On top of the communication enhancement, me and the entire USAgencies team are doing everything we can to reduce the risk and stress for our members during these challenging times, including the assistance programs we created to provide support to our members. We are offering skip-a-pay and loan consolidation at no additional fees, as well as short term loans with a low interest rate. If you or anyone you know needs help with finances and going through the options available, please do not hesitate to connect with us, we are more than ready to help.

As you may be aware, we have our field of membership earlier this summer to individuals who live or work in any of these 4 Oregon counties: Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, and Marion. We are very excited for the opportunity to serve more people in our community; this opportunity would not have been possible without our members.

I would like to take this time to thank you for the trust you put in the credit union. No matter the situation, our members’ financial wellness is always our priority. I am confident that together, we will brave the storm.

Justin Olson, President/CEO, USACU
Justin Olson
President/CEO
USAgencies Credit Union

APR vs Interest Rates

When financing a new home, you’ll need to learn the difference between the APR and the interest rate.

When comparing long-term loans, the interest rate and the annual percentage rate (APR) are often confused. While the interest rate refers to the annual interest expense of the loan, the APR reflects the annual cost of borrowing money from the lender.

Clear as mud? Don’t worry; we can help. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between these two terms and how each one impacts your loan.

Interest rate defined

The interest rate, or the nominal rate, is the rate of interest the lender charges the borrower for the loan. For example, a $300,000 mortgage with a 4% interest rate would have an annual interest expense of $12,000, or $1,200 a month. This number only represents the interest rate on the loan and does not factor any other costs.

Interest rates are influenced by the federal funds rate, which is set by the Federal Reserve, otherwise known as “the Fed.” The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which banks lend each other money overnight.

During an economic recession, the Fed will lower the federal funds rate to encourage consumers to borrow and spend more money. During the coronavirus recession, for example, the Fed slashed the federal funds rate to just .25%.

In contrast, during times of economic growth, the Fed will raise the federal funds rate to encourage personal savings for balancing out the cash flow and stabilizing inflation.

APR defined

The APR on a loan is the approximate annual cost of borrowing money from a financial institution.

The APR includes the interest expense, along with all other fees and costs involved in taking out the loan. This can reflect closing costs, loan origination fees, mortgage insurance, broker fees and rebates. The APR is expressed as a percentage of the entire loan amount and will nearly always be greater than the interest rate.

On a $300,000 mortgage with closing costs, loan origination fees and mortgage insurance totaling $5,000, the loan amount would be adjusted to $305,000. The 4% interest rate will then be used to calculate a new annual interest expense of $12,200. To determine the APR on the loan, divide the annual payment of $12,200 by the original loan amount to get 4.06%. The borrower will now pay this percentage of their loan each month.

Which number is more important to consider when taking out a loan?

Here’s where the two terms can get confusing.

When comparing rates on two different loans, the loan with the lower nominal interest rate will generally offer the better value since the bulk of the loan amount is being financed at a lower rate. Usually, the loan with a lower nominal rate will also feature a lower APR.

While a loan with a lower APR is generally the better choice, it’s important for borrowers to consider the length of time they plan to stay in their home. Most home buyers will need to purchase discount points, also known as mortgage points, to qualify for loans with lower APRs. Each point costs 1% of the mortgage (or $1,000 for every $100,000) and will lower the interest rate by .25%. Discount points need to be purchased upfront. This means the borrower will need to pay thousands of dollars at closing to qualify for a lower-APR loan.

It can take more than five years for the borrower to break even on the extra costs they paid for the loan through their lower monthly payments. Consequently, for home buyers who plan to move within the next decade or sooner, it may make more sense to choose a loan with a higher APR and fewer upfront costs.

Taking out a home loan involves multiple decisions, which will affect your finances for years to come. It’s important to learn the difference between interest rates and APRs and to run the numbers to determine which loan offers you the better value before choosing a loan.


If you’re planning to take out a home loan in the near future, connect with our Lending Specialists to explore your options at 503-275-0300 Option 2.

Your Personal RV Buying Guide

Buying an RV is a big decision, though. If your biggest assets are your car and your house, this decision represents a purchase that is somewhere between the two. There’s a lot to know before you set foot on a lot, and the more you research now, the better things will go.

With that in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself before you start shopping for an RV. With these as jumping off points for research, you can make informed decisions about your needs. You’ll also be able to more clearly communicate what you’re after, which will make the sales experience more pleasant for everyone.

1. What class are you in?

Broadly speaking, there are three classes of RV: Class A, Class B and Class C. Class A are the biggest and most comfortable. Built on big rig platforms, these are basically rolling houses. They feature full-sized couches and TVs, full bathrooms, kitchens and expandable bedrooms. Many also include storage underneath the vehicle (called the “basement” by enthusiasts) with enough space to stock supplies for a months-long journey. As one might expect for top-of-the-line vehicles, the price tags are as big as the vehicles, ranging from $60,000 to over a million for custom-built motorhomes.

Class B motorhomes are on the other side of the spectrum. These are built on full-size van platforms. They can include scaled-down versions of the same amenities in Class A motorhomes, but in a more maneuverable, less costly package. Expect to see a small kitchen, a compact bathroom, and enough sleeping space for 2-3 people for several weeks. The price tags on these vehicles run between $50,000 and $100,000.

Class C motorhomes offer a compromise between A and B. These start with cargo van platforms and extend the wheelbase somewhat to about the length of a small bus. Amenities will be more complete than in a Class B, but nowhere near as robust as in a class A. Definitely more vehicle than home, these usually run between $60,000 and $200,000.

There are other options, of course. Camper trailers, pop-ups, and fifth-wheel tow-behind campers can often fill the same needs at lower prices. It’s worth investigating these options, as well.

2. What’s your budget?

Before you make a major purchase, you’ll want to be clear on how much you can afford. Given the significant cost of purchasing an RV, financing periods are typically 10 years or longer. Because RVs depreciate, interest rates are slightly higher than home loan rates, too. It’s not just the monthly payment you need to include in your budget: you’ll also need to factor in for fuel, insurance, registration, and maintenance, even if you don’t go anywhere!

Finally, It’s also worth figuring out what you can budget for a down payment. You may be able to finance 100% of the purchase price of your RV, but putting money down helps protect you against depreciation. That means you’ll be able to get clear of your RV payment if you decide to sell it later on down the road.

3. When should you get financing?

While many dealers will try to work out financing in-house, it’s not a bad idea to go in with a pre-approval. It’ll allow you to negotiate from a position of confidence, and it’ll also prove to the salespeople that you’re serious about buying. Getting pre-approval will also make sure you don’t fall in love with an RV you can’t afford. Nothing can ruin a fun vacation like a big bundle of “How are we going to pay for this?” stress!


If you’re thinking about an RV, the time to talk financing is now. How much RV you can afford should be at the forefront of your selection process. Getting your financing in order will help you figure that out. Getting pre-approved is quick, easy & smart: apply online, give us a call (503.275.0300), or email us at loans@usacu.org.

Questions? Contact us.

Member Moment: Chase’s Story

In the old days of the internet, only corporate banks could afford streamline online banking services. These days, we’re living in a world where internet is everywhere, the services you use every day to manage your money like checking balances, transferring money and paying bills are just a few simple clicks or taps away. It’s easier than ever to access USAgencies Credit Union from distance away.

Our member, Chase, would like to share his thoughts on how USAgencies feels so local even when we are on the opposite side of the globe.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a 36 professional pursuing a career with the National Park Service (NPS), Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco California. My wife and I enjoy the Bay Area and love to explore the variety of cultures and foods. We have a 2 year old Husky named TOGO with lots of energy; he keeps us active and on our toes, lol!

Your Passion
I personally have a passion to pursue my higher education to PhD in the fields of business, technology, and human factors psychology. My wife and I possess passion and goal to open our own business specifically Thai cuisine as she is from Thailand. We love to travel experiencing other cultures and have visited Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Future trips we would love to explore together include Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt, England, and Germany.

What is your favorite USAgencies’ moment as a member?
From the moment I opened an account to present the professionalism and quality of customer care USAgencies Credit Union (USACU) has provided is second to none. While traveling the United States and overseas USACU has been there to answer questions and provide support, reducing financial concerns while on the road and in the air. Second, when I require completion of international transactions (wire transfers) USACU has provided support that is easy and efficient. Finally, USACU and their staff provides world class support through Portland OR branch and with a variety of participating partnered branches.

What do you value the most about USAgencies?
I value most, the dedication to customer support, continued efforts to streamline business and process while maintaining quality, and how my experiences with USACU still feels like a local credit union even when I am across the country or somewhere traveling the globe.


Thank you Chase for sharing your member moment!

Want to share your USAgencies moment? Submit your story to social@usacu.org or via telephone at 503-275-0300. We’d love to hear from you!