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6 common car loan mistakes that cost you money Part Of Buying a Car In this series Buying a Car Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make better financial choices by providing you with interactive tools and financial calculators as well as publishing objective and original content. We also allow you to conduct your own research and compare data for free and help you make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has partnerships with issuers, including but not limited to American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Earn Money The products that appear on this website are provided by companies that pay us. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on the site, such as such things as the sequence in which they appear in the listing categories and other categories, unless prohibited by law. This applies to our mortgage or home equity products, as well as other products for home loans. This compensation, however, does not influence the content we publish or the reviews you see on this site. We do not contain the vast array of companies or financial deals that may be available to you. My Ocean Production/Shutterstock

5 minutes read. Published March 02, 2023

Writer: Rebecca Betterton Written by Auto Loans Reporter Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers with the ways and pitfalls of borrowing money to buy a car. The article was edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are dedicated to helping readers gain confidence to take control of their finances by providing concise, well-studied facts that break down complicated subjects into digestible pieces. The Bankrate guarantee

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There are money-related questions. Bankrate can help. Our experts have helped you understand your finances for more than four years. We continually strive to give our customers the right guidance and tools required to make it through life’s financial journey. Bankrate follows a strict , which means you can be sure that our information is trustworthy and precise. Our award-winning editors, reporters and editors produce honest and reliable information to assist you in making the best financial decisions. Our content produced by our editorial staff is objective, truthful and uninfluenced from our advertising. We’re transparent about the ways we’re capable of bringing high-quality information, competitive rates and useful tools to you , by describing how we make money. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We receive compensation for the placement of sponsored products and, services, or when you click on certain links posted on our website. So, this compensation can impact how, where and in what order items are listed and categories, unless it is prohibited by law. We also offer mortgage or home equity products, as well as other products for home loans. Other factors, like our own rules for our website and whether the product is available in your region or within your own personal credit score may also influence the manner in which products appear on this site. Although we try to offer a wide range offers, Bankrate does not include specific information on every financial or credit product or service. If you’re looking to save money for your next car purchase, you’ll have to do more than strike a good deal with the person selling the . A mistake when taking out a could cost you money and wipe out the savings you bargained for regarding the cost of the car. However, it’s not that common, particularly among people with good credit scores. A report from the Financial Times revealed that 3 percent of super-prime and prime customers were granted auto loans with an APR of at least 10 percent, which is more than twice the average rate for their credit scores. Doing not shop around to find the most affordable deal on auto financing is just one of the mistakes to avoid. Here are some other mistakes to avoid if you want to land the most affordable deal. 1. Not shopping around is an easy and efficient method to obtain an auto loan however, it comes at an added cost. Dealers often increase their rates by a couple of percentage points to make sure they make money. Before visiting the dealership look around and visit banks or credit unions. This will give you an idea of the interest rates you can get to your credit score and make sure you are getting the best deal. Keep in mind that banks’ requirements may be more strict that credit unions’, but they can provide better rates than what you find at the dealership. If this is your first time buying a car, look at financing options for first-time buyers at credit unions. Once you are preapproved for a loan, you can bargain with the dealer more efficiently. If the dealer isn’t willing to beat the rate you currently have, you don’t have to count on their financing to get the car you’ve always wanted. Key takeaway

Preapproval can ensure you receive the most competitive rate, and will give you the an advantage to bargain.

2. The monthly payment should be negotiated instead of the purchase price. Although the monthly payment for your car loan is vital — and you should know in advance each month, it shouldn’t be the basis of your . After you’ve volunteered, the month-long car loan amount informs the dealer what you’re willing to invest. The salesperson might also try to hide other costs, such as the higher interest rate and add-ons. They might also pitch you with a longer payment timeframe, which can allow you to keep the monthly installment within your budget, but will increase the overall cost. In order to avoid that, you should negotiate the purchase price of the car and the price of each, instead of focusing on the monthly installment. Important takeaway

Don’t buy a car based only on the monthly payments as the dealer might utilize that information to stop negotiations on hold or upsell you.

3. Letting the dealer define your creditworthiness. Your creditworthiness is the basis for the rate of interest you pay A borrower who has a high qualifies for an improved car loan rate than one with a lower score. Shaving just one percentage point of interest from a $15,000 vehicle loan over 60 months could be a huge savings in the interest throughout the duration that the loan. Understanding your score on credit in advance of time puts you in control in negotiations. With it, you’ll be aware of the rate you should be expecting — and also if you are being pushed by the seller to charge too much you or deny the loan you’re eligible for. What is an unacceptable APR for the car loan? New auto loans had an of 6.07 per cent in 2022’s fourth quarter according to data from . The credit score of those with excellent credit was eligible for rates as low as 3.84 percent, whereas those who had bad credit had an average new vehicle price that was 12.93 percent. Used car rates were higher — 10.26 percent across credit scores. The highest rate was 20.62 percent. Therefore, a « bad » APR for a car is on the higher end of these numbers. Legally, loans cannot have an interest rate over 36 percent. Find an lender that offers you an APR that is based on your credit scores or better. The most important thing to remember is

Explore a variety of lenders to find out your estimated interest rates and take any steps to boost your credit score before going to the dealer.

4. Not choosing the right term length can be a challenge. The range of durations is from 24-84 month. The longer term may be tempting with low payments. However, the longer, the higher cost of interest you’ll be paying. Certain lenders will also offer a higher rate of interest when you choose to take an extended repayment timeframe because there’s a greater chance you’ll end up upside-down on the loan. To determine the best option for you, take a look at your needs and priorities. If, for instance, you’re the kind of driver who is looking to get behind the wheel of an updated vehicle every couple of months, then the long-term loan might not be right for you. On the other hand, if you have the funds to pay for your car, a longer term might be the only option to afford your vehicle. Use a to understand your monthly payment and decide which one is the most suitable for you. What you should take away from this

A short-term loan is likely to cost less overall in interest, however, it will also have higher monthly payments. A long-term loan will offer smaller monthly payments, however it will cost you more interest costs over time.

5. Financing the costs of additional items Dealerships earn from — particularly aftermarket products that are sold through the finance and insurance department. If you want an or the gap insurance products are available at a lower cost through sources other than the dealership. Incorporating these extras into your financing could result in more expense in the long run because you’ll have to pay interest on them. Examine every cost you don’t understand to avoid unnecessary additions to the cost of your purchase. If you find an additional item you really want and can’t afford, you should pay it out of pocket. Better yet, check whether it’s available at a different dealership at a lower cost. Buying from a third party is typically cheaper for aftermarket items including extended warranties . The most important thing to remember is

In the long term the financing add-ons can lead to more interest paid over the long run. Be prepared for negotiations and know the add-ons that you really need and which are cheaper elsewhere.

6. The process of rolling forward negative equity  »  » on an auto loan is when you have more debt on your vehicle than it is worth. Lenders may allow you to carry that negative equity into the new loan but it’s not a wise financial move. If you do this, you’ll have to pay interest on your previous and current car. If you were in the red on your last trade-in most likely you’ll be the next time around. Instead of incorporating negative equity into the new loan, try before taking out the new loan. It is also possible to pay off your negative equity prior to transferring it with the dealer to keep from having to pay excessive interest. Key takeaway

Do not roll any negative equity on your vehicle forward. Instead, pay off as much of the old loan as possible or take the amount that is left when you sell your car.

The most important aspect to success when applying for a car loan is preparedness. This includes negotiating the monthly payment and being aware of your credit scores, selecting the right duration, making sure you are aware of additional expenses and avoiding rolling over negative equity. Keep potential mistakes in mind while you negotiate, and with the right luck, you’ll leave with a savings and time. Find out more


This article is written by Auto Loans Reporter Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers with the ins and outs of securely taking out loans to purchase a car. Written by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain confidence to take control of their finances with concise, well-researched and well-researched content that breaks down complicated subjects into bite-sized pieces.

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