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Tips for Financing or Refinancing Your Car Loan

Aug 17, 2007
Here is a list of things that I did recently when purchasing my latest vehicle to get a good interest rate. You can apply most of these to either new or used car loans.

Always get your financing first before shopping for a car

When buying a new car, if you have financing already in place, it's much easier to negotiate over the price of the car if necessary. If you are pre-approved, you know exactly how much you can spend and the monthly payment. Try to get approved for a little more than you think you will spend, just in case.

The 0% financing trick - 0% financing or cash back rebate?

Don't be fooled by 0% financing, unless your credit is almost perfect, you won't qualify. If you do, you probably be required to pay the loan off in 2-3 years, not 5 like most loans. Be sure you know the amount of interest you will be paying over the term of the loan with your pre-approved amount in advance, because you might pay less total interest than the dealerships financing and want the cash back rebate.

Have your paperwork and check ready before you go

If you get pre-approved online for say $20,000.00, some companies will mail you a blank check and a letter to show the car dealership. This could take a week or more to receive in the mail. If they don't offer to send it overnight, it might be worth it for you to pay the $15-20 fee. The finance person at the dealership will call the loan company after you've made your purchase and advise the amount of the check. Bonus - you will have to sign less than half of the usual paperwork!

Shop Online for a car loan or auto refinance

Whether it's for a first finance or refinance, the rates you can get these days by shopping online are great. There seems to be more competition and that's good for you. Make sure you are on a secure page before typing in your social security number.

Consider having an automatic deduction from your checking acct.

I saved a percent on my recent auto purchase by letting the loan company set up my auto loan as an automated monthly deduction. They let me pick the exact day I wanted it. On a side note, if you have a few bills paid this way as I do, you might want to pick the same day for all. It's easier to remember to write it in your checkbook and make sure the funds will be there when the auto debits hit.

Try to spend within your means

I know this seems obvious to some, but you need to plan on the additional expenses. Call your car insurance company before purchasing the vehicle, and ask for a few quotes for your new insurance premium. You may be surprised that the new Honda you were looking at is classified as a sports car. Better to know in advance than after your purchase. Don't forget, your registration will be more too.

Refinancing your vehicle can help your credit

If you are having trouble paying your bills and have at least 2-3 years left on your car loan, this can be an excellent way to reduce your monthly expenses. You'll pay more in interest, but it may be worth it to keep your bills paid on time and your credit score up. Be sure to refinance before your payments are too late or you'll have to pay higher interest. Also, I would refinance before I made payment arrangements with my creditors if that's also needed, because you don't want "payment arrangements" showing up on your credit report when your trying to get approved for the refinance.

Bad credit auto financing

These days more and more companies are willing to finance a vehicle even if your credit is bad or you've had a bankruptcy. You'll pay higher interest, but again shop around and online. It will be better to get at least an idea of what you'll have to pay before going to the dealership. You may get approved for 12-16% online and 16-20% at the dealership. If you have time before purchasing a vehicle and it isn't an emergency, run your credit report online and have it mailed to you. Verify all the data is correct. You may have time to repair an item and get a better interest rate before you buy. See my article on how to do this.
About the Author
Sandra Wellman is the owner of freefinanceinfo.org, where you'll find over 50 articles on credit repair, how to get out of debt, identity theft, refinancing, reverse mortgages, student loans, auto loans and personal & business finance.
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