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Financing For a Car – 5 Tips

Financing For a Car – 5 Tips

If you cannot afford a car or are having trouble qualifying for financing, you know the frustration. Being without a car is more of an inconvenience than many people think, and it can be hard to get sympathy from people we know who already have cars. “Why don’t you just save up until you can afford one?” or “Why not just take the bus?” might be what you are hearing from others.

Well, those people apparently do not remember what it is like to try to get by these days without an automobile. The reasons for owning a car are too many to count. Some of the reasons include: getting to and from work, going grocery shopping, visiting friends, and having a vehicle on hand in case of a medical or other emergency. Without a car, all of these things are made more difficult – if not impossible

The most logical way to get that oh-so-necessary car is to take out a loan. In the case of an auto loan, there are a number of decisions you will need to make before finding a lender and ultimately signing on the dotted line. Most of these decisions relate to the terms of the loan, such as payback period and interest rate. Others have to do with your choice of lender, the amount you choose to put up as a down payment, and how much research you do before moving forward.

Here are 5 tips for financing a car that can help you be smarter about choosing your auto loan:

1. Learn Your FICO Score

The single most important factor that influences how good of an interest rate you qualify for – and even whether you qualify for a loan in the first place – is your FICO (or credit) score. Your score is calculated independently by at least three different major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each agency uses the same formula to calculate your credit score. However, given that they each have access to slightly different information about you, the scores vary. Make sure to learn all three of your scores.

2. Compare Offers From Multiple Lenders

Many people seeking a car loan make the mistake of just contacting one bank or credit union and going forward with them. This is a mistake because, as with anything else in life, more choices is better than fewer choices. By contacting multiple lenders, you have a much better chance of receiving multiple loan offers at different interest rates. Bottom line: competition among lenders is good for you!

3. Consider Your Local Credit Union Or Bank

Before walking into an auto dealership and asking them for a loan, stop by your local bank or credit union first and talk to their loan officer. Many credit unions, in particular, have set up special auto loan programs for their members. Having a potential loan deal in hand before visiting the dealership is a great confidence builder, and it gives you more leverage when negotiating with the dealer.

4. Do Not Accept The First Offer You Get

When applying for loans from multiple lenders, be careful not to just accept the first offer that you receive. Even if you think you have found the best lender for you, it is likely that their first offer is not their best offer. Remember, their goal is to make money, so they are working with a range of possible deals for you. Be bold and ask if they can do better. What do you have to lose?

5. Buy A Car Within Your Means

This last tip may deserve to be at the top of list: make sure you are buying a new or used car that is within your financial means to afford. It is always tempting to buy a car that you cannot quite afford. However, every $500 or $1,000 you can shave off of the purchase price will mean significant savings for you in terms of monthly payments and overall cost of the loan.

Follow these 5 tips for financing a car to ensure for yourself the best chances of getting a great deal on car financing.