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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 aim is to assist you make smarter financial decisions by providing you with interactive tools and financial calculators as well as publishing original and impartial content, by enabling you to conduct your own research and compare data for free – so that you can make decisions about your finances without a doubt. Bankrate has agreements with issuers, including but not limited to American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Make Money The offers that appear on this website are provided by companies that pay us. This compensation can affect the way and where products are displayed on this site, including the order in which they appear in the listing categories in the event that they are not permitted by law for our mortgage or home equity products, as well as other products for home loans. But this compensation does have no impact on the information we publish, or the reviews that you see on this site. We do not include the vast array of companies or financial offerings that could be accessible 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 is a specialist in helping readers with the ways and pitfalls of taking out loans to purchase a car. The article was edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers feel confident to control their finances by providing concise, well-researched and well-researched content that breaks down complicated issues into digestible chunks. The Bankrate guarantee

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There are money-related questions. Bankrate has answers. Our experts have been helping you master your money for over four years. We continually strive to give our customers the right advice and tools needed to make it through life’s financial journey. Bankrate adheres to a strict code of conduct , so you can trust that our content is truthful and accurate. Our award-winning editors and journalists create honest and accurate content to help you make the right financial decisions. The content we create by our editorial staff is objective, factual and is not influenced from our advertising. We’re transparent about how we are able to bring quality information, competitive rates and useful tools for you by explaining how we earn money. is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We receive compensation for placement of sponsored products and services, or by you clicking on specific links on our site. Therefore, this compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear within listing categories, unless the law prohibits it for our mortgage or home equity, and other home loan products. Other elements, such as our own website rules and whether a product is offered in the area you reside in or is within your personal credit score may also influence the way and place products are listed on this website. While we strive to provide an array of offers, Bankrate does not include specific information on each credit or financial item or product. If you are looking to save money on the next purchase of a car, you’ll require more than strike a good bargain with the salesperson about the . An error when buying an auto loan could result in a loss of money and erase any savings that you have negotiated on the purchase price. Unfortunately, it’s not all the time, especially for those with credit scores that are high. A report from the Financial Times revealed three percent of super-prime and prime customers had auto loans with an APR of 10 percent or more, which is more than double the average rate for their credit scores. Not shopping around for the best deal in auto loan financing one error you need to avoid. Here are some other mistakes to be aware of if you wish to get the most affordable deal. 1. Avoiding shopping around is an easy and convenient way to obtain a car loan, but it also costs extra. Dealers typically mark their rates up by a couple percentage points to make sure they profit. Before you visit the dealership, shop around and from the banks and credit unions. This will provide you with an understanding of the rates that are available for your credit score , and make sure you are getting the most competitive rate. Remember that banks’ requirements may be stricter than credit unions’ however, they might offer better rates than you’ll discover at the dealer. If it’s your first experience buying a car, look for programs that offer financing for first-time buyers in credit unions. Once you are preapproved for a loan then you can bargain with the dealer more efficiently. After all, if the dealership isn’t willing to beat the rate you currently have, you don’t have to depend on their financing to purchase the car you’ve always wanted. The most important thing to remember is

Preapproval can ensure you receive the most competitive rate and gives you the power to negotiate.

2. Negotiating the monthly installment rather than the purchase price. Although the monthly payment for your vehicle loan is crucial — and you must have it in advance each month — it shouldn’t be the sole basis of your . Once volunteered, a monthly car loan amount will inform the dealer how much you are willing to spend. The salesperson could also try to cover up other costs for example, the higher interest rate and additional charges. They could also offer you on a more lengthy payment timeframe, which can keep that monthly payment within your budget, but could can cost you more overall. In order to avoid that, you should negotiate the price of your vehicle’s purchase and the price of each, instead of focusing on your monthly payment. Key takeaway

Never purchase a car based only on the monthly payments as the dealer might make use of that number to put negotiations on hold or even upsell you.

3. Let the dealer determine your creditworthiness. Creditworthiness determines your interest rate, and a borrower with a high qualifies to receive a better vehicle loan rate than one who has a low credit score. Shaving only one percentage point of interest off the $15,000 car loan over 60 months can be a huge savings in the interest paid throughout the duration that the loan. Being aware of your credit rating ahead of time will place you in the driver’s seat in terms of negotiation. By knowing your credit score, you’ll be aware of the rate you should expect — and if the dealer is trying to charge too much you or lie about the amount you’re eligible for. What is an unacceptable APR for the car loan? New auto loans have an APR of 6.07 per cent in 2022’s fourth quarter, according to data from . Credit scores of people with good credit qualify for rates as low as 3.84 percent, while people with bad credit had an average new automobile rate that was 12.93 percent. Used car rates were higher — 10.26 percent across credit scores. The highest rate was 20.62 percent. So the “bad” APR for a vehicle is on the higher portion of these numbers. In law, loans cannot have an interest rate over 36 percent. Look for a lender that will offer you the average interest rate on your score or better. The most important thing to remember is

Explore a variety of lenders to find out the estimated interest rates. You can make any necessary steps to boost your credit score before going to the dealership.

4. Not choosing the right term length can be a challenge. The range of durations is between 24 and 84 months. More lengthy terms can offer attractive, lower cost of payments. But the , the more interest you’ll pay. Certain lenders will also charge a higher interest rate when you choose to take an extended repayment period since there’s a higher risk that you’ll become upside-down on the loan. To determine the most suitable option for you, take a look at your priorities. For example, if you are the type of person who wants to get behind the wheel of the latest car every few months, then being enslaved by the long-term loan may not be the best option for you. On the other hand in the event that you’re on an extremely tight budget and a long-term loan may be the only way you’ll be able to pay for your car. Utilize a calculator to determine the cost of your monthly payments and choose which option is best for you. The most important thing to remember

A short-term loan will cost you less overall in interest, but will have high monthly payments; a long-term loan will have lower monthly payments , but will have higher rates of interest over the course of time.

5. Finance the cost of added-ons Dealerships make money from — specifically aftermarket products offered through Finance and Insurance office. If you’re looking for an insurance policy or gaps insurance policy, those products are offered at a lower price from sources outside the dealership. The addition of these items to your financing could cost you more in the end because you’ll have to pay interest on these items. Be sure to inquire about every charge that you don’t know about to avoid unnecessary additions to the purchase price. If there is an add-on that you’re really interested in, pay for it out-of-pocket. If you want to make sure, ask if it’s available outside the dealership at a lower cost. A third-party purchase is usually cheaper than aftermarket products, extended warranties and . Key takeaway

In the end the financing add-ons can increase the amount of interest you pay overall. Come prepared to negotiations knowing what add-ons are essential and what you can get cheaper elsewhere.

6. The process of rolling forward negative equity ” ” on a car loan is the case when you owe more money on your vehicle than it is worth. Some lenders will allow you to roll over that negative equity into an additional loan, but this is not a prudent financial move. If you do this, you will pay interest on both your current and previous car. If you were upside down on your last trade-in most likely you’ll be again. Instead of rolling your negative equity into the new loan first, consider taking out the new loan. You can also repay your equity upfront with the dealer to save yourself from paying excessive interest. What’s the most important takeaway

Do not roll any negative equity from your vehicle forward. Instead, make sure you pay off the full amount of your previous loan as possible or take the amount that is left when you sell your vehicle.

The bottom line The key to success when applying for a car loan is preparing. It is about negotiating your monthly payment, knowing your credit score, choosing the appropriate term length, being aware of add-on expenses and avoiding carrying across negative equity. Make sure to be aware of potential mistakes when you negotiate, and with the right luck, you’ll leave with a savings and time. Learn more


The article was written by Auto Loans Reporter Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She has a specialization in helping readers to navigate the details of borrowing money to buy cars. The article was edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers achieve confidence in taking control of their finances through providing clear, well-researched facts that break down otherwise complicated subjects into bite-sized pieces.

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