Your interest rate is determined by your credit score. You can retrieve your credit score from different agencies. It is important to obtain more than one credit score because companies will evaluate them differently; meaning not all your credit reports and credit scores will be the same.
AnnualCreditReport.com allows you to view your credit report once a year for free. Other companies such as Experian and Equifax offer to evaluate your credit for a small fee. Every time someone runs a credit check on you, a few points are knocked off of your score, which could make a bad situation worse. Check around, and ask what minimum credit score lenders require, and what score will get you the best interest rate. Make any repairs to your credit before you start shopping around for a car loan.
Car loans are available from 3 main sources: credit unions, banks and car dealerships. Credit unions are able to offer low rates to their members because they are non-profit organizations. In searching for a car loan, this means a lower monthly payment and less interest over time. Credit unions also offer lower fees. If you aren’t a current member of a credit union, joining is a simple process. Credit unions often provide excellent customer service. Finance agents of credit unions will go over your financials, and you will receive a straightforward response from the agent with the reasoning behind their decision. Rates from credit unions are competitive, with no hidden fees.
Financing through your bank can be a convenient way to finance your loan. Banks allow you to add your loan to your online banking account, and easily make your payment each month when you log into your account. If you choose to finance through a bank or credit union it gives you the advantage of coming to the dealership, prepared with comparable rates.
When shopping for a car loan you shouldn’t leave financing through the dealership out of the picture. Dealerships can offer some good deals such as zero percent financing. They also, often, have relationships with several lenders who may compete against each other with lower rates. However, take caution when financing with your dealership because car lenders often make commission from loans sold to their customers.
Focus on Loan’s Total Cost
When determining how much you can afford, pay attention to the loan’s total cost, not monthly payments. A shorter term on your loan involves higher monthly payments, but will save you money overall. Also, the longer the term the higher the interest rate, generally speaking. Choose the shortest term you can afford. A short term loan can also prevent you from having an upside down loan, which is when you owe more on the car that it is actually worth.
Think of a rejected car loan application as a lender doing you a favor. If the lender has rejected your application, they probably don’t think you would be able to afford the loan. Reassess your budget to determine what you can afford on the total cost of the loan, not just monthly. Consider taking more time or save or try to find a car that is in your budget.
Stick to Your Budget
Buying a new car is exciting, but it can be easy to get wrapped up in the process. Remember what you can afford and don’t let the car salesmen talk you into anything you don’t need. Take some time to think about your decision and determine if it is really want you want and can afford.