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 mission is to help you make better financial decisions by providing you with interactive tools and financial calculators, publishing original and objective content. We also allow you to conduct your own research and compare information at no cost and help you make informed financial decisions. Bankrate has agreements with issuers including, but not restricted to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Earn Profit The products that appear on this site come from companies who pay us. This compensation may impact how and where products are displayed on this site, including such things as the order in which they appear within the listing categories and other categories, unless prohibited by law. Our mortgage home equity, mortgage and other products for home loans. But this compensation does affect the information we provide, or the reviews that you see on this site. We do not contain the universe of companies or financial deals that may be available to you. My Ocean Production/Shutterstock

5 min read Published March 02, 2023

Authored by 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 cars. Edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are enthusiastic about helping readers gain confidence to control their finances with concise, well-studied information that breaks down otherwise complex topics into manageable bites. The Bankrate promise

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We make sure that everything we publish will ensure that our content is reliable, honest and reliable. The loans reporters and editors concentrate on the points consumers care about most — the various types of loans available as well as the best rates, the best lenders, ways to pay off debt and more — so you’ll feel safe making a decision about your investment. Editorial integrity

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You have money questions. Bankrate has the answers. Our experts have been helping you master your money for over four decades. We are constantly striving to give our customers the right guidance and tools required to succeed throughout life’s financial journey. Bankrate follows a strict , so you can trust that our information is trustworthy and precise. Our award-winning editors and reporters provide honest and trustworthy content to help you make the right financial decisions. Our content produced by our editorial team is factual, objective and uninfluenced by our advertisers. We’re open about how we are capable of bringing high-quality content, competitive rates and useful tools for you , by describing how we earn money. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We receive compensation for placement of sponsored products and, services, or through you clicking specific links on our website. Therefore, this compensation may 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 home lending products. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and whether or not a product is available in your area or at your personal credit score can also impact how and where products appear on this site. While we strive to provide a wide range offers, Bankrate does not include details about every credit or financial products or services. If you want to save money on your next car purchase, you will have to do more than strike a good bargain with the salesperson about the . An error when buying a could cost you money and erase any savings that you have negotiated on the purchase price. Unfortunately, it’s not all that uncommon, especially among people with good credit scores. A study by the Federal Reserve showed the fact that 3 percent of super-prime and prime customers were granted auto loans with APRs of 10 percent or more this is more than double the average rate of those with credit scores. Doing not shop around to find the most affordable deal on auto financing is one of the mistakes you should avoid. Here are some other mistakes to avoid if you’re looking to secure the best price possible. 1. Avoiding shopping around is an easy and practical way to secure a car loan, but it also comes at an added cost. Dealers typically mark up their rates by a couple of percent to ensure they earn. Before visiting the dealership take a look at other options and banks or credit unions. This will provide you with an understanding of the interest rates you can get to your credit score and make sure you are getting the most competitive rate. Keep in mind that the requirements of banks may be stricter that credit unions’ but they can provide better rates than what you get at the dealership. If this is your first time buying a car, look for programs that offer financing for first-time buyers in credit unions. When you’ve been preapproved for the loan then you can bargain with the dealer more efficiently. If the dealer doesn’t beat the rate you already are paying, you don’t have to depend on their financing in order to obtain the car you want. What’s the most important takeaway

Preapproval will guarantee you get the best rate available and give you leverage to bargain.

2. The monthly payment should be negotiated rather than the purchase price While the monthly payment for your car loan is vital — and you must know in advance each month — it shouldn’t be the basis of your . Once volunteered, a each month’s car loan amount will inform the dealer what you’re willing to invest. The salesperson might also try to hide other costs, like the higher interest rate and add-ons. They might also pitch you on a more lengthy repayment timeline, which will keep that monthly payment within your budget, but will cost you more overall. In order to avoid that, you should negotiate the price of your vehicle’s purchase and each instead of focusing on your monthly payment. Important takeaway

Do not buy a car solely only on the monthly payments; the dealer could make use of that number to put negotiations at a standstill or upsell you.

3. Let the dealer determine your creditworthiness. Your creditworthiness is the basis for the rate of interest you pay, and a borrower with an excellent credit score is eligible for the best automobile loan rate than someone who has a low credit score. Reducing just one percentage point of interest from a $15,000 car loan over a period of 60 months could save hundreds of dollars in interest paid throughout the duration that the loan. Being aware of your credit rating ahead of time puts you in the driver’s seat in terms of negotiation. By knowing your credit score, you’ll know the price you can anticipate — and whether you are being pushed by the seller to charge too much you or lie about what you qualify for. What is the worst APR for the car loan? New auto loans were at 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 of around 3.84 percent, while people who had bad credit had an average new vehicle price that was 12.93 percent. Used car rates were higher — 10.26 percent across all credit scores. It was also a record-breaking 20.62 percent. Thus it’s a “bad” APR for car is on the higher range of these figures. The law states that loans can’t have an APR that is greater than 36 percent. Seek an lender that will offer you an APR that is based on your credit scores or better. Key takeaway

Shop around with many different lenders to determine the estimated interest rates. You can take any steps to improve your credit score prior to going to the dealer.

4. The wrong term to choose length can mean a gap of between 24 and 84 months. Longer terms may offer tempting and lower monthly costs. However, the longer, the higher interest you’ll pay. Certain lenders will also offer a higher rate of interest when you choose to take an extended repayment timeframe because there’s a higher chance that you’ll become upside-down on the loan. To decide which is the most suitable option for you, think about your needs and priorities. For instance, if you’re a person who wants to get behind the wheel of the latest car every few months, then being enslaved by an extended loan may not be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you have a limited budget, a longer term might be the only way to afford the car you want. Use a to understand the cost of your monthly payments and choose which option is best for you. What you should take away from this

A short-term loan will cost you less interest in the long run however it will come with high monthly payments; a long-term loan will have smaller monthly payments, however it will cost you more interest costs over the course of time.

5. Finance the cost of add-ons Dealerships profit from — especially aftermarket products sold by the finance or insurance department. If you’re looking for an insurance policy or gaps insurance policy, those options can be purchased for less through sources other than the dealership. The addition of these items to your financing could increase the cost in the long run because you’ll have to pay interest on these items. Be sure to inquire about every charge that you don’t know about in order to avoid unnecessary costs to the cost of your purchase. If you find an additional item you really want then pay for it out of your pocket. Better yet, check whether it’s sold outside of the dealership at a lower cost. The purchase of a third party is usually cheaper than aftermarket products, extended warranties and . Most important takeaway

In the long term, financing add-ons will lead to more interest paid overall. Be prepared for negotiations and know which add-ons you truly need and what you can get cheaper in other places.

6. Moving negative equity forward ” ” on a car loan is when you owe more on your car than the value of it. The lender may let you roll over that negative equity into a new loan however this is not a prudent choice for financial reasons. If you do this, you’ll have to pay interest on your previous and current vehicle. And if you were upside-down on your last trade-in most likely you’ll be the next time around. Instead of incorporating negative equity into your new loan first, consider taking out the new one. You can also pay off the negative equity upfront to the dealer to save yourself from paying excessive interest. The most important thing to remember

Do not roll any negative equity on your vehicle forward. Instead, you should pay off as much of the old loan as possible or make the payment when you sell your car.

The bottom line The key to success when you take out an auto loan is preparing. This includes negotiating the monthly payment and knowing your credit score, deciding on the right time frame, and knowing the add-on charges and not rolling over negative equity. Be aware of any mistakes that could occur while you negotiate, and with luck, you will be able to save money and time. Find out 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 ways and pitfalls of borrowing money to purchase an automobile. Written by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are dedicated to helping readers gain confidence to take control of their finances through providing concise, well-researched and well-researched content that breaks down complicated topics into manageable bites.

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