Know your credit score
Whenever you’re thinking about taking out a loan, your credit score is the most important factor. Whether you decide to go through a bank, an auto loan dealer or the dealership, your credit score will determine the rate. With a recent credit report, you can see your credit score, any derogatory marks, and other items that would be affecting your credit score.
If you don’t know your credit score, you’re entitled to one free credit report every 12 months. Visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. Alternatively, you can complete a Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Shop around and compare loans
You’re able to secure a car loan from banks, credit unions, dealerships, and online lenders. Dealerships may seem more attractive with offers such as 0% financing or cash back rebates. Though it’s important to understand those refinancing options are geared toward the highest qualified buyers. That’s why it’s important to have a recent credit report on hand. Evaluating your options and comparing them is important. It ensures you can find the optimal loan for your needs.
Get pre-approval first
When you’ve secured pre-approval for a loan, you know exactly how much you can afford. Typically, you can get a pre-approved car loan from banks, credit unions, and online lenders. An additional benefit of getting pre-approval is that you have additional leverage when buying. You’re effectively a cash buyer with a pre-approved loan. You don’t need to think about the monthly payment but you can think about the price of the car outright.
Calculate the costs before signing the dotted line
It may be tempting to get through the paperwork the second you find the car you love. But you should take a moment to calculate the costs. There are four important facts to evaluate:
- Total loan amount. How much money are you borrowing to cover the total cost of the car?
- Down payment. Do you have a down payment? How much are you putting down?
- Loan term. How many months are you going to be making a monthly payment? Generally, the longer the term, the lower your monthly payment will be.
- APR. The annual percentage rate includes fees that contribute to the origination of the loan. It usually is a higher amount than the interest rates and provides the overall estimate of the loan cost.
Use our car financing calculator to figure out the principal and interest amount on your monthly car payment. You can even determine how much you’d pay monthly if you elect for a shorter loan term or a longer term.
Our expert loan advisors can help you walk through everything you need to know about car loans. We’ve helped our community secure their vehicles since 1934. You can contact us online or give us a call at 816-241-7800.