Tag: Auto Loan

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Car Prices Hit an All-Time High — Here’s How to Save When Buying New

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The first Model-T cost as little as $825 in 1908, which is about $18,000 adjusted for inflation. Today, the average car buyer can expect to leave a dealership with a new car for around $35,428. That was the average transaction price for a new vehicle in October — an all-time high — according to auto comparison website Edmunds.com.

The average new-vehicle transaction rose 2 percent from October 2016 and 12 percent over the past five years. The average down payment on a new car also hit a new record: $3,966, which is up $374 from last year and $454 from five years ago.

Why are prices up?

The increase is due in part to a rise in the number of features that come standard with a new car these days, like automatic emergency braking and backup cameras, says Ronald Montoya, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds. In addition, consumers are moving away from lower-cost, smaller sedans, climbing into higher-priced, larger SUVs and trucks.

Montoya says the general decline in overall gas prices since 2008 is partly responsible for the shift in consumer preferences. Plus, many shoppers favor a higher driving position and having more storage space.

Before we get to how you can find savings on a new car despite the higher price tags, let’s talk about a savings strategy that can backfire.

Looking beyond your monthly payment

Many are opting for longer auto loans to cope with rising car prices, says Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for kbb.com, the website for vehicle research publisher Kelley Blue Book. Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that 42 percent of auto loans made in the last year were for six-year terms or longer, up from 26 percent in 2009.

Taking out a longer auto loan to pay a lower monthly price isn’t an ideal hack, DeLorenzo tells MagnifyMoney. While a longer term keeps your monthly payments lower, you end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan than you would with a shorter-term product. That makes your new car even pricier, so avoid taking out a longer loan to squeeze an expensive vehicle into your budget..

The CFPB found that six-year auto loans cost more in interest over time, are used by consumers with lower credit scores to finance larger amounts, and have higher rates of default. Here’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when you’re reviewing financing options: If you are unable to afford financing an auto purchase over four years, perhaps it’s out of your price range.

DeLorenzo says going with a longer loan is one of two actions people are taking in response to higher prices. The other: leasing.

It is true that leasing a vehicle saves you money on monthly payments in the short run, but there’s more to this financial story. Indeed, if you drive a lot of miles, leasing may be a bad idea. You may be hit with extra mileage and wear-and-tear charges at the end of your lease.

How to save on a new car

So prices are at record highs. The experts we talked to say there are still ways you can save when buying a new vehicle in this market.

Try a compact vehicle

If you’re shopping for a car in 2017, you’re likely looking at a crossover, midsize vehicle or truck. Those larger vehicles are in demand right now, and, according to Edmunds, the shift to the larger vehicles has driven interest rates and prices up. However, automakers are struggling to move less-popular 2017 models like compact sedans off dealership lots.

DeLorenzo, the KBB editor, recommends purchasing a less-in-demand sedan or crossover vehicle to find savings.

Many new compact cars may be sold for up to $10,000 less than a larger SUV or truck by the same manufacturer, he says. By choosing a sedan or other compact vehicle, you trade size for better fuel economy and a more affordable car.

And because dealers are having a hard time selling these models, you might see better discounts, more incentives and improved lease deals on more traditional sedans and family cars, according to DeLorenzo.

Pair a lower down payment with GAP insurance

Common savings advice for car shoppers includes making a down payment of at least 20 percent of the vehicle’s transaction price. This tactic is intended to save you money right away, as a new car loses about 20 percent of its value in its first year of ownership, according to Montoya.

People are putting down closer to 12 percent of the vehicle’s value at signing because it’s tough to save up 20 percent since vehicle prices have gotten more expensive, Montoya tells MagnifyMoney. He says most people tend to go with making a down payment that results in a monthly payment they are comfortable with.

But, since a new vehicle loses about a fifth of its value in its first year of ownership, “if you put down payment of 12 percent, you are already in the red,” Montoya adds. He says you may want to look at GAP insurance if you put down less than 20 percent.

Services like GAP — Guaranteed Auto Protection — insurance and new car replacement insurance will cover the difference between what the vehicle is worth and what is owed on the loan in the event of total loss or accident.

Ask your insurance company if it offers new car replacement insurance or GAP insurance. If your insurance doesn’t offer new car replacement or the monthly cost of the insurance is outside of your budget, Montoya says to consider getting GAP insurance from the dealership.

Adding GAP insurance may tack on another monthly transportation cost, but it can save you from possibly owing thousands on an upside down auto loan in the event you have an accident and lose your vehicle.

On the downside, GAP insurance coverage may vary from insurer to insurer, so be sure to ask what the insurance can apply to. Some policies, for example, may cover collisions but not flooding or theft.

Look out for incentives

A little research can go a long way when you’re car shopping. Keep an eye out for extra savings in the form of incentives from both the dealer and the manufacturer.

Both Montoya and DeLorenzo recommend checking the manufacturer’s website or comparison websites like KelleyBlueBook.com or Edmunds.com for savings before you set foot on a dealer’s lot.

There may be special incentives you qualify for based on your status as a veteran, student or ride-share driver. You may also find a loyalty incentive, reserved for those who already own a car by the same manufacturer, or a conquest incentive, offered to customers willing to trade in a competing brand.

Be sure to enter your ZIP code to find incentives most relevant to you at local dealerships, and to search based on the exact model you’re looking for.

Even if you think you’ve found all you could dig up, you may discover additional savings if you ask the salesperson about any deals or promotional offers the dealer may be running when you come in. Wait until you’re at the negotiating table to bring the deal up, advises DeLorenzo.

“Keep that in your back pocket,” he says. “If they don’t offer them to you. then bring them up.”

Get preapproved for financing

You don’t have to leave the financing to the dealer, and you shouldn’t if you want to ensure you’re getting a good deal. Get preapproved for financing before you show up at a dealership. That way, if the dealership offers you financing at a higher interest rate, you can counter the offer or, at the very least, have a benchmark for offer comparisons. Naturally, you should aim to finance your new vehicle at the lowest interest rate possible.

Compare prices

The first step to saving money on anything is shopping around. Compare prices of the vehicle you want across multiple dealers.

“A lot of people tend to go to the dealership that’s closest to them and they don’t shop around,” says Montoya. He recommends going to at least three different dealerships. “You’ll see three different offers and you’ll get a better idea as far as price,” he says.

Websites like Kelley Blue Book, TrueCar and Edmunds make it fast and simple to compare prices of new and used vehicles online. Use the sites to compare sticker prices before you head out to the dealership. Beyond the physical vehicle, take the time to compare what you can expect to pay for must-haves like auto insurance and vehicle maintenance, as they can fluctuate depending on the vehicle you choose.

Time your purchase just right

Simply walking onto the a dealer’s lot at the right time of the year can save you a chunk of cash. Montoya says the holiday season is a good time to shop for a new vehicle; dealers are looking to clear out their inventory of the outgoing year’s models to make room for new vehicles.

“Look at vehicles on the outgoing year,” says Montoya. “They will have more discounts and there is more incentive for dealers to sell those models.”

You also want to pay attention to when the vehicle came out. The longer a car is out, the more likely it is to have more discounts than newer models, adds Montoya. He recommends going back a model year to save money if you don’t mind getting a used car instead of a new one.

Brittney Laryea
Brittney Laryea |

Brittney Laryea is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brittney at brittney@magnifymoney.com

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Auto Loan, Reviews

The 6 Best Auto Loans for Buying a Used Car

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: iStock

Shopping for used cars can be tricky. Not only are you trying to avoid buying a lemon, you are looking for just the right model year, mileage, and price.

While all of these variables can make car shopping stressful, there are a couple of things you can do to simplify the process.

First, decide exactly how much you can afford to spend on a used car. Look at your budget and determine the absolute maximum your monthly payment can be. Also be aware of your total debt payments when compared to your income. Generally speaking, the total of all your debt payments – auto loans, student loans and mortgage – should not exceed 50% of your income. Make sure to factor your auto payment into the calculation.

Next, shop online for the best used-auto loan rates and get preapproved for the most attractive offer for which you are eligible. In order to strike the best deal possible on your used auto, it is best to walk into the dealership with financing already in hand.

Once you get to the dealership and find the car you want, negotiate the price of the car before telling the salesperson that you are approved for financing.

[Borrow Before You Buy a Car]

How To Apply

When shopping online for a used auto loan, the application process is very similar to that of a brick-and-mortar bank, but more streamlined. In general, be prepared with:

  • Your contact information: Name, address, phone number, email address
  • Vehicle information (if known – required for lenders that do not offer online preapproval) Make, model, mileage, VIN, dealership information.
  • Financial Information: employment information, gross income and expenses

The Best Auto Loans for Used Cars

LendingTree

With LendingTree, you can fill out one short online form and see real interest rates and approval information instantly. There are hundreds of lenders on LendingTree ready to compete for your business.

It is important to note that some lenders will do a hard pull on your credit and this is normal within the auto lending space. Keep in mind that multiple hard pulls will only count as one pull, so the best strategy is to have all your hard pulls done at one time.

Disclosure: LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney.

LendingTree

LEARN MORE  

LightStream

LightStream offers auto loans for used cars online with APRs ranging from 2.49% to 8.84%. It’s terms range from 24 to 84 months, it can finance up to $100,000, and it charges no origination fee. It does offer the ability to obtain preapproval online, before setting foot in a dealership, and if you are approved, you could receive funds into your bank account in as little as 1 business day. The funds can be used on any vehicle, from any dealership, with no restrictions concerning the year, make, model, or mileage of the vehicle you buy.

The 2.49% APR is dependent upon enrolling in AutoPay. If you choose not to enroll in AutoPay, your rate will be 0.50% higher, starting at 2.79%. While rates from LightStream start at 2.49%, they do depend upon the amount financed, and the financing term.

Because LightStream offers no telephone customer support, it offers a guarantee that you will love its service, from start to finish. If you aren’t completely satisfied with your experience, $100 will be deposited into your account, provided you fill out a questionnaire about your experience within 30 days of closing on your loan.


PenFed

Pentagon Federal (PenFed) Credit Union offers rates from 2.49% to 3.99% on used auto loans up to $100,000. It will finance terms of 36 to 72 months and charges no origination fee. Rates are dependent upon the amount financed, and the terms financed for, as shown in the chart below:

APR as low as*

Term

Loan Amount

Approx.
Loan Pmt.($20,000 Loan)

2.49% APR

36 months

$500 to $100,000

$577.14

2.74% APR

48 months

$7,500 to $100,000

$440.39

3.49% APR

60 months

$10,000 to $100,000

$363.75

3.99% APR

72 months

$15,000 to $100,000

$312.81

Because PenFed is a credit union, you will need to join in order to apply for an auto loan through it, but anyone can join by making a one-time donation to Voices for America’s Troops ($14) or National Miliary Family Association ($15). Also important to note is that even though the loan is entirely online, PenFed does not offer online preapproval.

In order to apply, you’ll need the following information about the vehicle you will be purchasing:

  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Mileage
  • VIN
  • Dealer or private party information

Once approved, the loan proceeds will go directly to the vehicle’s seller, rather than into your bank account.


Capital One

Capital One offers auto loans with rates ranging from 3.24% to 4.14% and terms from 36 to 72 months. It can finance up to $40,000, and has no origination fee. Capital One also offers online preapproval through its Auto Navigator. You can then use the funds at any of 12,000 approved dealers. Proceeds from the loan will be sent directly to the seller, rather than deposited into your bank account.

Rates are dependent upon the financing terms, and subject to credit approval, as seen in the chart below:

Financing Type

36 or 48 or 60 mos

66 or 72 mos

Purchase New Vehicle

APR as low as

3.24%

3.24%

Purchase Used Vehicle(Dealer)

APR as low as

3.64%

4.14%


NEFCU

NEFCU is a credit union offering auto loan for used cars with rates as low as 2.240% for used vehicles. It can finance up to $70,000 for 12 to 84 months with no origination fee. NEFCU does not offer online preapproval.

NEFCU offers a $300 coupon offer valid at select dealers on your new or used auto.   You can apply online, at a branch or by telephone by calling 1-800-99-NEFCU. Your rate will be determined by creditworthiness, loan amount, year of the vehicle, and loan term, as per the rate chart.

In order to apply for an auto loan from NEFCU, you must be a member. You are eligible for membership with NEFCU if you:

  • Live in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Work in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Worship in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Attend school in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Regularly conduct business in Nassau and/or Suffolk Counties
  • Family Sponsorship – An existing NEFCU member can sponsor in an immediate family member (mother/father, brother/sister, child, grandparent or grandchild) or any household member
  • Membership is not open to individuals who live, work, worship, attend school and do business exclusively in East Hampton, Southampton and Shelter Island.
  • If you have any questions on membership or eligibility, please contact us at 516.561.0030 or at 800.99.NEFCU outside LI/NYC or send an email to info@myNEFCU.org. 

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union offers auto loans for used cars with rates as low as 1.99% with terms of 12 to 96 months. It can loan up to $100,000 and charges no origination fee. Navy Federal Credit Union does offer online preapproval.

Rates from Navy Federal Credit Union are determined by the car’s model year, as well as the loan term, as seen in the chart below:

Auto Loan Rates

As of: November 7, 2017, 1:00 AM EST

Loan Type

up to 36 mos.
APR as low as*

37-60 mos.
APR as low as*

61-72 mos.
APR as low as*

73-84 mos.
APR as low as*

85-96 mos.
APR as low as*

New Vehicle

1.99% 

2.39% 

2.69% 

4.09% 

4.89% 

Late Model Used Vehicle

1.99% 

2.79% 

3.49% 

Used Vehicle

3.79% 

3.99% 

5.29% 

In the rate chart, new vehicles are year models 2016, 2017, and 2018 with 7,499 miles or less, and the minimum loan amount is $30,000 for terms 85-96 months. Late model used vehicles are described as 2016, 2017, or 2018 models with 7,500 – 30,000 miles. Used vehicles are vehicles (up to 20 years old) with 30,001 miles or more.

In order to apply for an auto loan from Navy Federal Credit Union, you must become a member. You are eligible if you are Active Duty Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Army or Air National Guard, a member of the Delayed Entry Program, a Department of Defense (DoD) Officer Candidate/ROTC, a DoD Reservist, or a retiree from any of these service branches. You are also eligible as a civilian if you are a DoD civilian employee, a U.S. government employee assigned to a DoD installation, a DoD contractor, or a DoD retiree. Finally, if you are the immediate family member of anyone eligible to join, you are also eligible to become a member.

After loan approval, the proceeds will be sent directly to the dealership, rather than deposited into your bank account.


 You Should Shop Around

Often concerns arise about the effect of shopping around for auto loans on your credit score. However, all inquiries within a 30-day period count as one inquiry on your credit report, so as long as your shop used auto loan rates within a 30-day period, those inquiries will only have a minimal impact on your credit score

Check other auto loan offers here.

Gretchen Lindow
Gretchen Lindow |

Gretchen Lindow is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Gretchen at gretchen@magnifymoney.com

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Auto Loan, Reviews

LightStream Auto Loan Review

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

LightStream Auto Loan Review
Updated November 06, 2017

Automobile shopping can be stressful. Besides trying to find just the right car for you or your family, there is the additional stress of finding the right price, the right financing, as well as factoring a monthly payment into your budget.

But with more online-only banks offering auto loans at extremely competitive interest rates, the auto loan game is changing. Today, your best bet is to obtain financing before setting foot in a dealership so you have a budget to stick to and you know exactly what your monthly payment will be.

The Offer

LightStream offers both secured and unsecured auto loans from $5,000 to $250,000 and rates as low as 2.49%. LightStream can get money in your account in as little as one day in some cases, and always with no fees whatsoever.

How To Apply

You can complete your LightStream auto loan application online, but you must 1) acknowledge receipt of LightStream’s Statement on the Use of Electronic Records, 2) agree to receive electronic records, and 3) agree to use electronic signature to sign your loan documents.

In order to apply, you will need:

  • The purpose, term and amount of desired loan
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Annual income
  • Total amount of assets and equity in your home

During business hours, LightStream will email you regarding your application. If you are approved, you will be able to then go online, electronically sign your loan agreement, provide any additional information, as well as choose your funding and due dates. The funds will be transferred to your bank account on the funding date that you chose, on the same day in some cases.

To qualify, you must have either excellent or good credit. LightStream lists the following as criteria for excellent credit:

  • Five or more years of significant credit history.
  • A credit history with a variety of account types such as major credit cards (for example, Visa, MasterCard, Amex), installment debt (vehicle loans) and mortgage debt if applicable.
  • An excellent payment history with no delinquencies or other problems repaying debt obligations.
  • A proven ability to save evidenced by some or all of the following; liquid assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.), cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings, and little, if any, revolving credit card debt.
  • Stable and sufficient income and assets to easily repay current debt obligations and any new loan with LightStream.

Good credit is essentially the same criteria as excellent credit, as seen above, but with fewer than 5 years of credit history.

Satisfaction Guarantee

LightStream does not provide any phone customer support for loans. Instead, it offers email support in an effort to keep costs low. Because the lack of phone support is unorthodox, it offers a $100 guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied with your loan experience. If you are not satisfied and wish to claim the $100 guarantee, you must contact customer service within 30 days of your loan and fill out a questionnaire.

The Fine Print

Your APR will be based on creditworthiness, loan amount, and loan term, as seen in the chart below for an auto-loan on a new car:

Loan Term(months)

Loan Amount

24-36

37-48

49-60

61-72

73-84

$5,000 to $9,999

3.49% - 5.74%

4.34% - 6.34%

4.54% - 6.54%

5.44% - 7.44%

N/A

$10,000to $24,999

2.49% - 4.94%

3.19% - 5.19%

3.19% - 5.19%

4.04% - 6.04%

N/A

$25,000 to $49,999

2.49% - 4.94%

3.19% - 5.19%

3.19% - 5.19%

4.04% - 6.04%

4.64% - 6.64%

$50,000 to $100,000

2.49% - 4.94%

3.19% - 5.19%

3.19% - 5.19%

3.84% - 5.84%

4.54% - 6.54%

Rates as of November 7, 2017 – New Auto Purchase

Rates in the chart above are shown inclusive of a 0.50% AutoPay Discount. If you choose not to enroll in AutoPay, your rate will reflect a 0.50% increase. AutoPay payments will come directly out of your bank account. Otherwise, you can choose to pay by invoice, which must be returned by mail. You cannot make payments at a SunTrust Bank branch.

LightStream does not charge any closing or disbursement fees. It also does not charge fees for prepayment. You can prepay principal on your loan by logging into your online account.

Pros

  • Rates as low as 2.49%
  • Can borrow as little as $5,000 or as much as $250,000
  • You can borrow for a new or used car
  • Terms from 24 to 84 months
  • No prepayment penalties
  • No closing or disbursement fees
  • Secured and unsecured loans

Cons

  • APRs as high as 9.04%
  • APR will increase 0.50% if you don’t enroll in AutoPay
  • Excellent or good credit required for financing

How It Stacks Up

If a low APR is your priority, consider looking into an auto loan from Capital One. It offers APRs from 3.24% to 3.24% and terms of 36 to 72 months on new vehicles.  There is no origination fee, but it only offers loans up to $40,000, with the option to get pre approval online before shopping.

New England Federal Credit Union is another option for an auto loan with used auto loan rates as low as 2.240% and terms from 12 to 96 months on new vehicles and 84 months on used cars. NEFCU can loan up to $70,000 with no origination fee, but there is no option for pre approval.

LightStream offers a fairly straightforward auto loan experience whether you’re buying a new or used auto with low rates, long terms, and no fees for closing, disbursement, or prepayment. As with any loan, make sure that you are getting the lowest rate possible, as even one percentage lower can save you thousands of dollars in interest.

Finally, make sure that you can afford the monthly payment. Auto loan terms are getting longer, and you do not want to have an auto loan payment that is more than you can afford for 6+ years.

Find other auto loan options here.

Gretchen Lindow
Gretchen Lindow |

Gretchen Lindow is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Gretchen at gretchen@magnifymoney.com

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Auto Loan, Featured, News

Auto Loan Interest Rates and Delinquencies: 2017 Facts and Figures

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Led by a prolonged period of low interest rates, consumers now have a record $1.2 trillion1 in outstanding auto loan debt. Despite record high levels of issuance, the auto lending market shows signs of tightening. With auto delinquencies on the rise, consumers are facing higher interest rates on both new and used vehicles. In particular, over the last three years, subprime borrowers saw rates rise faster than the market as a whole. MagnifyMoney analyzed trends in auto lending and interest rates to determine what’s really going on under the hood of automotive financing.

Key insights

  1. Overall auto delinquency is on the rise, and the first quarter of 2017 saw near record volume ($8.27 billion) in new severely delinquent auto loans.54
  2. Interest rates are on the rise, with average new car loan rates up to 5.2%, 93 basis points from their lows in late 2013.2
  3. The average duration of auto loans (new vehicles) is up to 66.53 months. The longer loans make monthly payments more manageable even as interest rates rise.31
  4. The median credit score for an auto loan borrower dropped to 698.6 This broke a five-quarter trend for rising credit scores among auto loan borrowers.

Facts and figures

  • Average Interest Rate (New Car): 5.2%2
  • Average Interest Rate (Used Car): 9.02%3
  • Average Loan Size New: $28,5694
  • Average Loan Size Used: $17,0785
  • Median Credit Score for Car Loan: 6986
  • % of Auto Loans to Subprime Consumers: 34.3%7

Subprime auto loans

  • Total Subprime Market Value: $234 billion8
  • Average Subprime LTV: 113.4%9
  • Average Interest Rate (New Car): 11.35%10
  • Average Interest Rate (Used Car): 16.49%11
  • Average Loan Size (New Car): $27,85312
  • Average Loan Size (Used Car): $16,24013
  • % Leasing: 24.5%14

Prime auto loans

  • Total Prime Market Value: $733 billion15
  • Average Prime LTV: 97.91%16
  • Average Interest Rate (New Car): 3.96%17
  • Average Interest Rate (Used Car): 5.42%18
  • Average Loan Size (New Car): $31,96419
  • Average Loan Size (Used Car): $20,84720
  • % Leasing: 36.5%21

Auto loan interest rates

Interest rates for auto loans continue to remain near historic lows. Interest rates for used cars is now 9.02% on average. The average interest rate on new cars (including leases) is 5.2%. However, the historically low rates belie a tightening of auto lending, especially for subprime borrowers.

New loan interest rates

Consumer credit information company Experian reports that the average interest rate on all new auto loans was 5.2%, up 93 basis points from the trough in the third quarter of 2013.24 Compared to the previous year, interest rates are up 38 basis points for new cars. The interest rate increase reflected underlying tightening in the auto loan market for new vehicles.

During the last few years, lenders tilted away from subprime borrowers. In the second quarter of 2017, just 10.02% of new loans went to subprime borrowers compared with peak subprime lending of 11.48% in the fourth quarter of 2015. The movement away from subprime borrowers led to a smaller increase in new car interest rates.25

Across all credit scoring segments, borrowers faced higher average borrowing rates. Subprime and deep subprime borrowers saw the largest absolute increases in rate hikes, but super prime borrowers also saw an 18-basis-point increase in their borrowing rates over the last year. The average interest rate for super-prime borrowers is now 3.05% on average, the highest it’s been since the end of 2011.27

When comparing credit scores to lending rates, we see a slow tightening in the auto lending market since the end of 2013. The trend is especially pronounced among subprime and deep subprime borrowers. These borrowers face auto loan interest rates growing at rates faster than the market average. Consumers should expect to see the trend toward slightly higher interest rates continue until the economic climate changes.

Even with the tightening, interest rates remain near historic lows for borrowers with fair credit and above. However, the low rates aren’t translating to consumers are paying less interest on their vehicle purchases. The estimated cost of interest on new vehicle purchases is now $4,378,29 up 52% from its low in the third quarter of 2013.

Growth in interest paid over the life of the loan stems from longer loans and higher average loan amounts. The average maturity for a new loan grew from 62.4 months in the third quarter of 2008 to 66.5 months in early 2017.31 During the same time, average loan amounts for new vehicles grew 15.3% to $29,134.32

Used loan interest rates

Over the past year, interest rates for used vehicles swung to their lowest rates ever, but recent movements show that interest rates for used cars may be stabilizing or climbing. Year over year, used car interest rates increased by 5 basis points to 9.02%. The drop in average interest rates came from a dramatic increase of prime borrowers entering the used car financing market. In the second quarter of 2017, 46.91% of used-car borrowers had prime or better credit. The year before, 45% of used borrowers were prime.34

On the whole, borrowers in the used car market face modest increases in interest rates compared to this time last year. Super prime and prime borrowers saw upticks of 27 basis points and 19 basis points, respectively. This brought the average super prime borrowing rate up to 3.68% for used vehicles, and the prime rate to 5.42%.36 Despite the recent increases, interest rates for prime borrowers are still near historic lows.

On the other end of the spectrum, subprime and deep subprime borrowers saw larger than average interest rate increases last quarter. Deep subprime interest rates grew to 19.73%, a 44 basis point increase from the previous year. Subprime borrowers face rates of 16.49% for used cars, up 39 basis points from the previous year. Interest rate hikes for subprime borrowers are part of a broader trend that started in 2009. Since 2009, interest rates for subprime borrowers are up nearly two full percentage points, and interest rates for deep subprime borrowers are up 3.5 percentage points.

Along with interest rate increases, the estimated interest paid on a used car loan sits at $4,279, up $227 from this time four years ago. Rising interest rates factor into the increased interest costs, but they are not the primary driver of interest costs. A more important factor in the total interest cost is the longer average loan terms for used cars (61 months vs. 59 months),38 leading to more interest paid over the life of a car loan.

Auto loan interest rates and credit score

As of June 2017, the median credit score for all auto loan borrowers was 698.40 Following a five quarter increase in median credit scores of auto borrowers, median credit scores fell below 700 for the first time since 2016.

In the second quarter of 2017, just 34.3% of all auto loans were issued to subprime borrowers compared with an average of 35% over the past three years. Ally Financial, the nation’s largest auto lender, limited subprime lending to just 11.6 percent of their auto loan portfolio, and Wells Fargo, the nation’s third largest auto lender, announced intentions to limit subprime auto lending to less than 10 percent of their auto portfolio. Despite the actions of these big banks, trends towards lending to the highest quality auto borrowers may show signs of normalizing near the 35% number again.

Total auto loan volume decreased dramatically between 2008 and 2010. During that time, subprime and deep subprime lending contracted faster than the rest of the market. Since early 2010, auto lending rebounded to near pre-recession levels, but subprime lending lagged in recovery. However, in the last year and a half, subprime lending volume has shown signs of total recovery. In the second quarter of 2017, banks issued $50.9 billion to subprime borrowers, surpassing the average $48.2 billion of subprime auto loans issued each quarter between 2005 and 2007.

Loan-to-value ratios and auto loan interest rates

One factor that influences auto loan interest rates is the initial loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. A ratio over 100% indicates that the driver owes more on the loan than the value of the vehicle. This happens when a car owner rolls “negative equity” into a new car loan.

Among prime borrowers, the average LTV was 97.91%. Among subprime borrowers, the average LTV was 113.40%.44 Both subprime and prime borrowers show improved LTV ratios from the 2007-2008 time frame. However, LTV ratios increased from 2012 to the present.

Research from the Experian Market Insights group46 showed that loan-to-value ratios well over 100% correlated to higher charge-off rates. As a result, car owners with higher LTV ratios can expect higher interest rates. An Automotive Finance Market report from Experian47 showed that loans for used vehicles with 140% LTV had a 3.03% higher interest rate than loans with a 95%-99% LTV. Loans for new cars charged just a 1.28% premium for high LTV loans.

Auto loan term length and interest rates

On average, auto loans with longer terms result in higher charge-off rates. As a result, financiers charge higher interest rates for longer loans. Despite the higher interest rates, longer loans are becoming increasingly popular in both the new and used auto loan market.

The average length to maturity for new car loans in the second quarter of 2017 is 66.5 months.48For used cars, the average is 61.1 months.49 Loans for both new and used cars are now more than six months longer on average than they were in 2009. Based on data from Experian, the increase in average length to maturity is driven primarily by an increasing concentration of borrowers taking out loans requiring 73-84 months of maturity.50

In the second quarter of 2017, just 7.3% of all new vehicle loans had payoff terms of 48 months or less, and 33.8% of all loans had payoff periods of more than 6 years.51 Among used car loans, 17.7% of loans had payoff periods less than 48 months, and an equal number, 17.7% of loans, had payoff periods more than six years.52

Auto loan delinquency rates

Despite a trend toward more prime lending, we’ve seen deterioration in the rates and volume of severe delinquency. In the first quarter of 2017, $8.27 billion in auto loans fell into severe delinquency.54 This is near an all-time high.

Overall, 3.92% of all auto loans are severely delinquent. Delinquent loans have been on the rise since 2014, and the overall rate of delinquent loans is well above the prerecession average of 2.3%.

Between 2007 and 2010, auto delinquency rates rose sharply, which led to a dramatic decline in overall auto lending. So far, the slow increase in auto delinquency between 2014 and the present has not been associated with a collapse in auto lending. In fact, the total outstanding balance is up 36% to $1.19 billion since 2014.57

However, the increase in auto delinquency means lenders may continue to tighten lending to subprime borrowers. Borrowers with subprime credit should make an effort to clean up their credit as much as possible before attempting to take out an auto loan. This is the best way to guarantee lower interest rates on auto loans.

Sources

  1. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Total Debt Balance and Its Composition: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  2. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” New Car Average Rates – Page 25, from Experian.TM
  3. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Used Car Average Rates – Page 25, from Experian.TM
  4. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Amount Financed for New Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVENANM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENANM, October 2, 2017.
  5. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Amount Financed for Used Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVEUANQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUANQ, October 2, 2017.
  6. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Credit Score at Origination: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  7. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Auto Loan Originations by Credit Score, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  8. Calculated metric: “State of the Automotive Finance Market” Loan Balance Risk Distribution Q2 2017 – Page 5, from Experian,TM and “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Total Debt Balance and Its Composition: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.(3.71% of All Loans Are Deep Subprime + 15.97% of All Loans Are Subprime)X ($1.190 trillion in Auto Loans)
  9. U.S. Auto Loan ABS Tracker: January 2017,” from S&P Global Ratings. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  10. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” New Car Subprime Average Rates, Page 25, from Experian.TTM
  11. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Used Car Subprime Average Rates, Page 25, from Experian.TM
  12. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Amounts By Tier, Page 19, from Experian.TM
  13. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Amounts By Tier, Page 19, from Experian.TM
  14. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” % Leasing By Tier, Page 16, from Experian.TM
  15. Calculated metric: “State of the Automotive Finance Market” Loan Balance Risk Distribution Q2 2017 – Page 5, from Experian,TM and “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Total Debt Balance and Its Composition: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.(41.7% of All Loans Are Prime + 19.74% of All Loans Are Super Prime)X ($1.190 trillion in Auto Loans)
  16. U.S. Auto Loan ABS Tracker: January 2017,” from S&P Global Ratings. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  17. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Interest Rate Prime Rating (New Car), Page 25, from Experian.TM
  18. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Interest Rate Prime Rating (Used Car), Page 25, from Experian.TM
  19. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Amounts By Tier, Page 19, from Experian.TM
  20. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Amounts By Tier, Page 19, from Experian.TM
  21. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” % Leasing By Tier, Page 16, from Experian.TM
  22. Graph 1 – Auto Loan Interest Rates, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports.
  23. Graph 2 – Average New Vehicle Interest Rates, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports.
  24. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Interest Rate Prime Rating (New Car), Page 25, from Experian.TM
  25. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” New Loan Risk Distribution, Page 15, from Experian.TM
  26. Graph 3 – % of New Car Loans Issued to Subprime Borrowers, data compiled from historic Experian State of the Automotive Finance Market Reports.
  27. Average Interest Rate by Credit Score, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports.
  28. Graph 4 – Average Interest Rate by Credit Score (New Car Loans), data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports.
  29. Calculated metric: Total Interest over the Life an Auto Loan (New Car).
    1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Amount Financed for New Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVENANM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENANM, October 2, 2017.
    2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, October 2, 2017.
    3. Average New Car Interest Rate, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports.

    Calculated Total Interest is Amortized Interest as a function of Average Amount Financed,a Average Interest Rate on New Cars,c and Average Length to Maturity of new car loans.b

  30. Graph 5 – Estimated Interest on New Car Loan.
    1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Amount Financed for New Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVENANM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENANM, October 2, 2017.
    2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, October, 2017.
    3. Average New Car Interest Rate, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports.

    Calculated Total Interest is Amortized Interest as a function of Average Amount Financed,a Average Interest Rate on New Cars,c and Average Length to Maturity of new car loans.b

  31. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, October 2, 2017.
  32. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Amount Financed for New Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVENANM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENANM, October 2, 2017.
  33. Graph 6 – Average Used Vehicle Interest Rates, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports.
  34. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Used Car Loan Risk Distribution, Page 15, from Experian.TM
  35. Graph 7 – Lending By Credit Score Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2017 “State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Used Car Loan Risk Distribution, Page 15, from Experian.TM
  36. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Average Loan Rates By Credit Tier (Used Cars), Page 25, from Experian.TM
  37. Graph 8 – Average Interest Rate by Credit Score (Used Car Loans), data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports.
  38. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of Used Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVEUMNQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUMNQ, October 2, 2017.
  39. Graph 9 – Calculated metric: Estimated Interest on Used Car Loans.
    1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Amount Financed for Used Car Loans at Finance Companies [DTCTLVEUANQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUANQ, October 2, 2017.
    2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of Used Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVEUMNQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUMNQ, October 2, 2017.
    3. Average Used Car Interest Rate, data compiled from historic Experian State of Automotive Finance Reports.

    Calculated Total Interest is Amortized Interest as a function of Average Amount Financed,a Average Interest Rate on New Cars,c and Average Length to Maturity of new car loans.b

  40. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Credit Score at Origination: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  41. Graph 10 – Credit Score at Auto Loan Origination “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Credit Score at Origination: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  42. Graph 11 – % of New Loans Issued to Subprime Borrowers. Calculated metric from “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Auto Loan Originations by Credit Score ((<620+620-659)/Total Lending), from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  43. Graph 12 – Auto Loan Origination by Credit Tier “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Auto Loan Originations by Credit Score, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  44. U.S. Auto Loan ABS Tracker: January 2017,” from S&P Global Ratings. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  45. Graph 13 – Average LTV at Auto Loan Origination “U.S. Auto Loan ABS Tracker: January 2017,” from S&P Global Ratings. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  46. Understanding automotive loan charge-off patterns can help mitigate lender risk,” from Experian.TM Accessed July 17, 2017.
  47. State of the Automotive Finance Market Q4 2010,” Pages 25-26, from Experian.TM
  48. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, October 2, 2017.
  49. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of Used Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVEUMNQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUMNQ, October 2, 2017.
  50. State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Percentage of new loans by Term, Page 22, from Experian.TM
  51. Calculated metric: “State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Percentage of new loans by Term, Page 22, from Experian.TM
  52. Calculated metric: “State of the Automotive Finance Market,” Percentage of new loans by Term, Page 22, from Experian.TM
  53. Graph 14 – Average Auto Loan Length to Maturity (Months).
    1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of New Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVENMNM], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVENMNM, October 2, 2017.
    2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Average Maturity of Used Car Loans at Finance Companies, Amount of Finance Weighted [DTCTLVEUMNQ], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DTCTLVEUMNQ, October 2, 2017.
  54. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Transition into serious delinquency (90+ days): Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  55. Graph 15 – New Severely Delinquent Auto Loans (90+ Days) “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Transition into serious delinquency (90+ days): Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  56. Graph 16 – % of All Loans Severely Delinquent “Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” % of Balance 90+ Days Delinquent: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017.
  57. Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit August 2017.” Total Debt Balance and Its Composition: Auto Loans, from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. Accessed September 7, 2017. (Q1 2014 compared to Q2 2017.)
Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah at hannah@magnifymoney.com

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Auto Loan

Why You Shouldn’t Take Out an 84-Month Auto Loan

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Part I: The Truth About Long Term Auto Loans

When poor credit and high monthly payments are keeping you from buying the car you need, it may be tempting to lower your payments by signing up for a 72-, 84- or even 96-month term loan. Before you do, it’s important to know exactly what you’re signing up for — and be sure you’re making the right move for your finances.

Lower car payments with longer terms mean you’re paying more in interest, and loan companies love this for obvious reasons. Evidently, consumers do, too. In the first quarter of 2017, new car loans with terms from 73 to 84 months represented 34.9 percent of all auto financing. For used cars, they represented 19.5 percent.

Most of the big dealerships offer 84-month financing through banks like Ally Financial or Santander. Local dealers are also known to offer longer term financing offers, typically through third party financing companies, credit unions, or insurers like Nationwide.

Let’s take a look at what you’re getting into when you choose a longer term on your auto loan…

Note: These numbers don’t include tax, title, or registration, which will only increase the amount of interest you pay if you include those costs in the total amount you borrow. These numbers also don’t include any down payment or trade-in you may have, which will decrease the amount of the loan and the amount of interest paid.

5 reasons long auto loan terms are a bad idea

  1. More interest. As you saw in the example above, you’re going to pay a lot more interest on a car loan with a longer term. If you spend more than those average amounts on a new or used car, the amount of interest you pay is only going to go up.
  2. Your loan will outlast your warranty. Most manufacturer’s warranties last 3 to 5 years, so you’ll be paying on your loan for an additional 2 to 4 years after the warranty runs out. Which leads to…
  3. New car payment, old car repair costs. Think about this. You’re going to be making your car payment for the next seven years. With a shorter term, you’d have paid off your vehicle before you started paying for costly repairs. But with an 84-month loan, you’re going to be paying both your monthly loan and the inevitable repair costs that come with an older vehicle.
  4. Negative equity. Stretching out a car loan over time means you’re paying less on the principal and more in interest with each payment. As your vehicle continues to decline in value each year, you’ll continue to be upside-down on your loan unless you made a significant down payment.
  5. Unable to refinance. If you’re upside-down on your loan, meaning you owe more on your loan than the vehicle is worth, you’ll be unable to refinance your loan.

When it makes sense to get an 84-month auto loan

  • You absolutely can’t afford a car any other way. This is probably the number one reason why people choose longer terms on their auto loan. An 84-month auto loan will lower your monthly payment, allowing you to purchase that vehicle that otherwise would be just out of reach. However, you should consider whether you’re borrowing too much if you can’t afford the monthly payment on a shorter term loan. Can you compromise by buying a used car at a lower price point? Or, could you scrounge up more money for a larger down payment to reduce the amount you need to borrow?
  • You have higher interest debt to worry about. If you have other loans at a higher interest rate, it may make sense to get a lower monthly loan payment so you can free up capital each month. That way, you can use the extra money you’re saving to pay down higher interest loans.

How to make the most of a long-term loan

  • Compare rates. Companies like LendingTree and MagnifyMoney allow you to compare auto loan rates from multiple lenders. So you can make sure you’re getting the best deal and a low APR. (Disclosure: LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney)
  • Buy now, refinance later. If you’re absolutely bent on getting a certain car now, you can always choose to refinance down the road, when your financial situation improves.
  • Make a larger down payment. Getting out of a bad car loan can be difficult when you’re upside-down. By putting more down on your vehicle up front, you’ll prevent this from happening while saving money in interest and avoiding gap insurance.
  • Buy used. The average used car payment is $145 less than the average new car payment, according to Experian, so save yourself some money with a more affordable monthly payment by buying a used vehicle.

5 tips to lower your costs of borrowing

  1. Keep your car after it’s paid off. Once your car is paid off, keep it — especially if it’s reliable and gets good gas mileage.
  2. Make an extra payment each month. By paying an extra $100 per month, you could save $1,819 in interest and own your car in a little over five years when you buy a $30,534 new car with an 84-month loan. When it comes to that $19,126 used car, you’d save $1,598 in interest and pay it off in under five years.
  3. Compare rates. Shop around for the best rates, and get multiple offers from lenders to compare. A difference of 3 percent on your interest rate could save you $3,689 on that 84-month new car loan of $30,534 and $2424 on that $19,126 used car.
  4. Buy used. With used car payments an average of $145 less than new, you’ll save a lot when you buy used over new.
  5. Don’t finance extras. Pay up front for your license, tax, and registration. If you purchase an extended warranty or prepaid maintenance package, don’t finance those into your loan either.

Part II: Understanding the Auto Loan Process

84-month auto loan
Source: iStock

Most people do it backward — they go shopping for a car first, then shop for a loan. When you do this, you’re making yourself vulnerable to high-pressure sales associates and putting yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to financing your vehicle.

When you get pre-approved for auto loans before heading to a dealership, you have an understanding of how much money you can qualify for, so you’re not shopping for vehicles that are too expensive. You also have a loan amount and interest rate to compare any other financing that’s offered to you.

How to get pre-approved for an auto loan

You can get pre-approved with a bank, credit union, auto finance company, or dealership finance center.

  1. Research rates online. Many sites, like MagnifyMoney’s parent company Lendingtree.com, will offer auto loan rates online. It’s a good idea to check them out so you have an idea of what’s being offered. Keep in mind that your creditworthiness will affect the rates you’re able to qualify for, and the credit score for an auto loan is a little different from other loans.
  2. Gather your documents. Get everything you need together before calling or taking a visit to your lender. This may include:
    1. Personal information, like your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number.
    2. Employment information, like your employer’s name and address, your title and your salary
    3. Financial information, including what kind of credit you have available now, your current debts and your credit score.
  3. Apply. Choose a few lenders and apply online or in person for your auto loan.
  4. Get a quote. Once you’ve completed the loan application and you’ve been pre-approved, you’ll receive a loan quote showing how much you qualify for, the interest rate and the length of the loan. You can take this to the dealership with you when you’re shopping and use it as a negotiating tool.

For more information on your loan choices, check out these resources:

Getting a cosigner for an auto loan

Having a co-signer can help you qualify for a loan you wouldn’t otherwise get. As long as the co-signer has a strong credit score, it’s likely you’ll qualify for a better interest rate using a co-signer too. And making on-time payments on this type of loan will help build your credit.

The drawbacks of having a co-signer are that the cosigner is responsible for the loan if you fail to pay. If this happens, chances are you’ll negatively affect your relationship with whoever cosigned for you. If that’s a friend or family member, (which it usually is) look out! Think twice about the responsibilities of having a co-signer, and the importance of paying back the loan, so you don’t leave your cosigner on the hook for money you borrowed.

Understanding your auto loan contract

Here are some key terms you’ll need to know when it comes time to signing a contract.

  • Sticker Price – A manufacturer’s suggested retail price that is printed on a sticker and affixed to a new automobile
  • Purchase Price – This may be less than the sticker price, and is the price you agree to purchase the vehicle for from the dealer.
  • Amount Financed – This is how much money you are borrowing and the amount you’ll pay interest on. Be careful about financing extras into your loan, as doing so may put you upside-down in the vehicle.
  • Down Payment – An amount of cash provided at the time of vehicle purchase and credited toward the purchase price of the vehicle to reduce the amount financed.
  • Interest Rate – The amount of money charged for loaning money, expressed as a percentage of the Amount Financed.
  • Fixed-Rate Financing – With a fixed rate, your interest rate will never change and you’ll always pay the same amount each month.
  • Variable Rate Financing – A variable interest rate is subject to change and may increase your monthly payment amount.
  • Monthly Payment Amount – This is how much you’ll pay each month.
  • Finance Charge – This is a fee, charged by the lender, for extending you credit.
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)APR includes both the interest and fees expressed as a percentage, making it easier for you to compare multiple loan offers.
  • Term — This is the length of the loan expressed in months, usually 36, 48, or 60.
  • Extended Warranty Contract – An extended warranty covers the vehicle beyond the manufacturer’s warranty for a fee.
  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) – If you owe more than the car is worth, you’ll be offered GAP insurance, which will cover the difference if the vehicle is lost, stolen, or totaled.
  • DMV Fees – These may include title, license, and registration.
  • Title — The legal document proving ownership of a vehicle.

Auto loan contract traps

Here are few traps dealers can use against you. Know them so you can protect yourself and avoid getting ripped off

  • Rate mark ups. Your dealer is getting financing from a bank, and they mark up the rate, charging you an extra percentage or two when you could have just gone directly to the bank in the first place.
  • Yo-yo financing. The dealer says you’re approved and you drive away. Later, the dealer says you were denied, and asks for a larger down payment or increases the interest rate. If you refuse, you must return the vehicle, and the dealer may try to keep any deposit you made.
  • Falsified credit application. Sometimes dealers will falsify information on your credit application, like increasing your income, to help you qualify for a vehicle you wouldn’t otherwise qualify for. Be sure to check your credit application before signing.
  • Selling extras. Whether it’s GAP insurance, prepaid maintenance, or extended warranties, the dealership is going to try to upsell you on some extras to rack up the charges and, if you agree to roll it into your financing, increase the amount of interest you pay. Be careful when selecting these extras and make sure you understand what you’re getting and know it’s worth the expense.
  • Negative equity financing. If you owe more on your trade-in vehicle than it’s worth, dealers will try to offer you a deal where you roll the negative equity into your new auto loan.
  • Extra charges. Look over your contract for any extra charges. One way to spot these is if they’re pre-printed on the contract. Many of these charges are not required and can be negotiated down.

Using an auto loan to improve your credit

If you’re working toward improving your credit, there are two rules you must follow. And while going from good to excellent isn’t easy, there are a few ways your auto loan can help you improve your score.

  • Payment history. On-time payments are 35 percent of your FICO score, so paying your auto loan on time will help with your payment history.
  • Credit mix. Because having a mix of different types of credit (home loans, personal loans, credit cards) makes up 10 percent of your FICO, throwing an auto loan in there will certainly improve your mix.
  • Report to credit bureaus. Make sure the lender you’re working with reports your payments to the three major credit bureaus. Beware of “Buy here, pay here” dealerships who may or may not report your payments to the credit bureaus.

And if you want to prevent your credit from getting worse, make sure you don’t do any of the following:

  • Make late payments on your auto loan.
  • Stop making payments and get sent to collections or have your car repossessed.
  • Include your car loan in your bankruptcy (if applicable).

When it makes sense to lease vs. buy a car

If you’re taking out a longer term loan in order to lower the monthly payment, you may want to consider leasing as an option. There are some things you should know before leasing a car, especially if you’re comparing leasing to buying. And while leasing isn’t for everyone, it can be a viable alternative to taking out an 84-month lease. in fact, according to Experian data, the number of people taking out a lease continues to increase.

“Another reason why we see consumers increasingly choose to lease, is they’re generating around $100 lower payment. And the biggest difference is in non-prime, [where there’s a] $109 difference between a loan and a lease,” says Melinda Zabritski, senior director of sales at Experian.

The Pros and Cons of Leasing a Car

Pros:

  • Lower monthly payment. The payment to lease is an average of $100 less than buying according to Experian’s 2017 report.
  • Warranty coverage. The average lease lasts 36 months and during that time, you’ll have full warranty coverage for anything that goes wrong with the vehicle.

Cons:

  • Mileage penalties. Most leases have a limit on how many miles you can drive (10,000 per year for an average lease), and you’ll pay for additional miles you drive unless you secure an extra-mileage or unlimited-mileage lease upfront.
  • Wear-and-tear fees. Nicks, scratches, stains — they all amount to extra wear and tear on your leased vehicle, and you’ll pay for them at the end of your lease. So if you’re hard on your vehicles, buying may save you some money here.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Car

Pros:

  • Ownership. Once you’ve paid off your loan, the vehicle is yours.
  • No mileage penalties. Drive as much as you like, you won’t pay a dime for “extra” miles you drive like you would with a lease.

Cons:

  • Maintenance and repairs. With ownership comes responsibility. In addition to being responsible for the maintenance, once the manufacturer’s warranty expires, you’ll be responsible for all any repair costs needed. That’s why some people consider buying an extended warranty.
  • Loss of value. Although you won’t pay fees for wear and tear, or extra miles you put on the car, those things will still lower the value of the vehicle when it comes time to sell it. And every year you own it, the value of the vehicle is likely to continue to decrease.

The Bottom Line: Is an 84-month auto loan ever a good idea?

In our opinion, no. Most people make the choice to take out a longer term auto loan in order to lower their monthly payments to afford the car they want. ‘Want’ being the operative word here. Chances are, you can purchase a less expensive car that would give you the same monthly payment. Although it’s difficult, putting your emotions aside can really help you make a financially sound decision when it comes to choosing the terms of your auto loan. If you know this is an area where you struggle, ask for help from a friend or family member who can be the voice of reason.

If you do choose to go with an 84-month auto loan, just understand that you’ll be paying more interest on your loan. And hopefully, you have a good job for the next seven years to help you pay for it.

Ralph Miller
Ralph Miller |

Ralph Miller is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Ralph here

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Auto Loan, Featured, Personal Loans

5 Things You Should Do Before You Buy a Car

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

When it comes to buying a car, whether used or new, the real work should happen before you even set foot on the lot. Taking the time to go through a few crucial steps will make your time at the dealership a breeze. To top that, a few pre-checks could save you money, time, and the hassle of dealing with a bad auto purchase in the future.

When you finally get to the dealership, Jack Nerad, executive market analyst at Kelley Blue Book, says it will pay off to come with a price in mind and all of the legwork done. The salesperson is going to ask you questions like what you’re looking for, how soon you’re going to buy, if you’ve looked at other dealerships, and what you do for a living, because they want some sense that they aren’t wasting their time with you.

“Demonstrate to them in your answers that you know about your own finances and that you know largely what you want in terms of a vehicle, and it will go pretty well for you,” says Nerad.

 

Step 1: Set a budget

When you get to the lot you should already know your credit score and how much you can afford for a car. Make sure to set a budget, and stay under your budget if you can. Unless you’re paying cash for your car, you’ll likely finance or lease your vehicle, so you should figure out how much you can afford in a monthly payment. Generally, all your monthly debt payments — credit cards, auto loans, student loans, and mortgage — should not exceed 50% of your monthly income.

Outside of the value of the car, you should budget for the taxes and any other one-time costs such as title fees and dealer fees. It could also be beneficial to create some space in your personal budget for costs such as gas and insurance. You may also want to open an alternate savings account to allocate separate funds to recurring costs such as ongoing maintenance, car insurance, and any future repairs.

“They are going to try to sell you more stuff like the insurance, treatments, etc. Most of that stuff is not worth nearly what they are selling it to you for,” says Nerad. “It could hurt the deal that you’ve worked hard to get. Just say no to most of it or do it aware of the financing.”

Don’t forget to weigh your savings options. Consider putting down a larger down payment if you can. If you won’t need it anymore, selling or trading in your current vehicle can help you come up with extra funds for a down payment. You could also consider a less-expensive vehicle, cut back on the add-ons and features, or improve your credit score, to save on the overall cost of the vehicle.

Step 2: Get pre-approved for financing

Shopping for an auto loan is another tedious process, but you should have already completed the first step in setting your budget.

Your next step will be to shop for the best used-auto loan rates and get pre-approved for the best offer for which you are eligible. What’s better, you won’t need to leave your computer to shop for an auto loan. A growing number of online-only banks, such as LightStream, PenFed, and Capital One, offer competitive interest rates on auto loans. Your best bet is to get pre-approved for financing before you get to the dealership. Coupled with your budget, getting pre-approved will help you have an idea of what your monthly payment will be.

When shopping online for a used-auto loan, the application process will look like that of a brick-and-mortar bank, but more streamlined. You should have the following information at hand:

Your contact information: Name, address, phone number, email address

Vehicle information (if known — required for lenders that do not offer online pre-approval): Make, model, mileage, VIN, dealership information

Your financial information: Employment information, gross income, and expenses

While you’re at the dealership, negotiate the price of the car before telling the salesperson that you are approved for financing. When the salesperson tries to get you to finance the purchase through the dealership’s affiliated lender, you can show them your pre-approved financing offer. There is a good chance they will try to beat your pre-approved offer, which could save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. If they can’t beat it, you’ve already found your lowest rate and can continue your vehicle purchase.

Step 3: Choose your vehicle

Research and make a decision regarding what kind of car you want. You can use websites like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and TrueCar to figure out a fair purchase price.

During your search keep in mind all of the specifications that are most important to you. You should think about how you intend to use the vehicle, not just how cool you’ll look in it. If you have a long commute to work, fuel economy may be important to you. If you have small children, having enough space for a car seat could possibly weigh in your options. If you live in the city, you might want to consider how much parking parking space you’ll have access to. Get the picture? A few other considerations:

Do you want a new car or a used vehicle?

Do you want to lease or purchase?

Do you need all-wheel drive?

Do you need a lot of cargo capacity?

How many passengers do you need to carry?

What type of driving do you do: highway, surface streets, off-road?

What safety features are important to you?

Will you drive in ice and snow?

Will you be doing any towing?

Again, think about what you need in addition to what you want.

When it comes to add-ons, remember anything you add — line items such as tire treatments, insurance, etc. — will be factored into the total purchase price and financing. The salesperson at the dealership may try to get you to purchase more than you bargained for, so come in knowing what you want to add on and where your line is drawn in your budget.

Step 4: Pick the right dealership

Next, you should find out who has the car you want within your budget. Back in the day, you would have combed through newspaper advertisements or had to visit several dealerships in person to see the cars you’re interested in. Now, with the internet, you can view multiple cars at several dealerships in your area and set filters to make sure they have what you want, for the price you want.

“More often than not the sales process is going to depend on the dealership and training of the salespeople there. If you come in knowledgeable, then you are going to be in a way better position,” says Katherine Hutt, director of communications at the Better Business Bureau.

After you get a healthy list of the dealerships in your area that have the car you want, you should check out their ratings on the Better Business Bureau website. Search for auto dealers in your area to find out which ones are BBB accredited, then look at the company’s profile to see if and why they have had any complaints filed against them.

Checking the dealerships for any serious complaints regarding their sales tactics or a negative rating will help you decide which ones are worth visiting.

Step 5: Run a background check on the car you want

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) is a consumer advocacy group for the auto industry best known for leading the nationwide adoption of the lemon law, which entitles consumers to reimbursement or compensation if they are sold a vehicle that fails to perform as it was expected to within a certain amount of time.

Founder Rosemary Shahan encourages consumers to check the vehicle’s background by getting a vehicle history report through resources such as the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, CARFAX, and AutoCheck.

In the vehicle history report you should check…

Name and description

Check the name and description that pops up to make sure the car you are looking at is the same as the car in the report. This will help you avoid VIN cloning, a type of vehicle fraud that involves using a VIN from another registered car and putting it on a stolen or similar vehicle, as well as other forms of vehicle fraud. Check for the name, color, and even details like the engine type to make sure you have the right car.

Number of owners

The number of owners a vehicle has had should be weighed cautiously in your consideration. You can’t be sure that each owner was a responsible and caring car owner like you, but the chance that the car has had a bad owner rises with the number of owners it has had. However, there is no magic number of owners that will disqualify a used car. Overall, you should place more import on the vehicle’s mechanical condition and how it has been cared for than on the number of owners it’s had.

Routine maintenance

Check to see that the car was regularly serviced. If it was, it will usually last longer and may be more expensive in general. The details about the vehicle’s maintenance may also help you answer any questions you may have about its repairs or servicing. If you know where its other owners took it for servicing, you can call up those locations and ask them if they can clear up anything that concerns you.

Anything suspicious

Be sure to ask about records that don’t quite line up. For example, if you see any records of body work but no reported incident, you should look into why the vehicle got work done. It’s not often that owners want a new side door and coat of paint just to spruce up the vehicle. It’s more likely that there may have been an accident that prompted the body work.

Finally, have the car looked at by an unaffiliated mechanic before buying no matter who you choose to purchase from. You can use a resource like Car Talk to find a mechanic in your area.
When you’ve checked off these steps, pay attention to what the salesperson tells you to make sure you get the best deal.

Brittney Laryea
Brittney Laryea |

Brittney Laryea is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brittney at brittney@magnifymoney.com

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These Are the Best Auto Refinance Loans to Lower Your Interest Rate

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Best Auto Refinance Loans

A few years after graduating college, I decided to buy a car and jumped into the auto loan contract recommended by a dealership. Since I was in such a hurry to get behind the wheel again and off the public bus route, I didn’t take the time to shop around for rates. In the end, I signed on for a 49-month term loan with a whopping 11.93% APR in the DC-Maryland area. Over the lifetime of the loan, I paid an additional $2,000 in interest charges alone.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn I could refinance my auto loan and potentially lower my APR until I was close to paying the loan off.

I made two rookie mistakes when shopping for my car: I didn’t get pre-approved for a low-rate auto loan and I went with the financing deal the dealership recommended. (You can avoid these same mistakes if you shop around and borrow before you buy.)

Take the time to shop around at various lenders to be sure you’re getting the lowest possible rate. If you shop around within a 14-day window, then your credit report inquiries will only be counted as one hard inquiry on your credit report and therefore cause minimal damage to your score.

It’s too late for me to right the wrongs with my first auto loan. But, if you’re stuck with high interest, refinancing your loan can be a simple way to save cash. There are a few drawbacks to keep in mind. For starters, to qualify for the best rates, you will need to have pretty decent credit. Secondly, refinancing your loan so that your monthly payments are smaller isn’t always the best solution. By lowering your payments, you’re dragging out the amount of time you will need to pay the loan off, which means you could potentially pay more interest fees in the long-run. It’s important to see if the numbers make sense before you decide to refinance.

In this roundup, MagnifyMoney has compiled five refinancing options that may work for you:

LendingTree Auto Refinance

[Disclosure: LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney.] If you are looking to explore your options, LendingTree is a great place to start. They have hundreds of lenders ready to refinance your auto loan. After completing an online form, you may be able to see real interest rates and approval information instantly.

Some auto lenders will do a hard pull on your credit. This is common with auto lending and it’s important to remember that multiple hard pulls will only count as one pull.  So, in this case, the best strategy is to have all your hard pulls done at one time, which LendingTree does for you.

LightStream Auto Refinance: 2.59% APR

LightStream is a division of SunTrust bank that offers a convenient online auto loan refinance process. Loan terms range from 24 to 84 months. Loan interest is fixed from 2.59% APR to 8.44% APR (with autopay). This auto refinance has no fees or prepayment penalties. And if you sign up to pay the installment loan with autopay, you get a 0.50% rate discount. Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $100,000.

The lowest rates and unsecured loans offered by LightStream do require an excellent credit score. According to LightStream, these are the characteristics of people who typically have excellent credit:

  • Five or more years of credit history.
  • A payment history without delinquencies.
  • A stable source of income.
  • Proven track record of saving.
  • A variety of open accounts.

If you apply for a LightStream refinance on a business day and complete all documents before 2 p.m., you may be able to have your loan funded the same day. There’s no pre-approval process. If you want to apply for this loan it will require a hard pull on your credit history and can dock your score a few points.

What are my chances of qualifying?

LightStream is looking for candidates with good to excellent credit. For those with good credit, LightStream may require you to secure the loan with your vehicle.

Since every situation is unique, LightStream gives some basic guidelines for what it considers a good loan candidate. You should have several years of credit history with very few, if any, delinquencies and a variety of open accounts. You also need to have savings and a stable source of income.

PenFed Auto Refinance: 1.49% APR for new cars

Auto refinances from PenFed are broken into two categories, refinances for new auto loans and used auto loans. For new cars, interest starts as low as 1.49% APR. You can borrow as little as $500 and up to $100,000. Loan terms range from 36 to 72 months.

For used cars, interest starts at 2.49% APR. Loan terms are also 36 to 72 months and loan amounts from $500 to $100,000. To apply for a PenFed auto refinance, you’ll need to provide basic details like your vehicle information, employer, gross income and expenses.

PenFed is the only credit union to make our list, but it’s a credit union that anyone can join. During the refinance application process, you can easily complete the documents for membership. If you don’t meet the membership requirements through organization or employer affiliation, you can make a one-time donation to Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association to become eligible.

What are my chances of qualifying?

The PenFed refinance doesn’t have a minimum credit score or credit history requirement. Instead, your entire financial situation is taken into consideration when evaluating your application. You may have a shot at qualifying with less than perfect credit if other aspects of your finances like savings and income outweigh the weakness on your credit report.

Capital One Auto Refinance: 3.24% APR

Capital One offers loans with interest as low as 3.24% APR. Loan terms range from 24 to 72 months. You can refinance a minimum auto loan of $7,500 and maximum of $40,000. There are no prepayment penalties, so you can pay off the refinance early without consequences.

The application for this refinance is quick and it’s one you can also complete online. Once you apply to receive an interest rate, it’s locked in for 45 days. If you decide to move forward, you’ll be asked for your vehicle identification number and to submit other requested documents. Depending on your credit score, you may be asked to show proof of income as well.

This loan does have a few other requirements to keep in mind. The car you’re refinancing must be 7 years or newer and you must be up-to-date with all auto loan payments. You also can’t refinance an existing Capital One auto loan.

What are my chances of qualifying?

Capital One uses an automated underwriting system to review variables besides your credit score to determine if you’re eligible. Some of the variables include your income, employment and whether you’re an existing Capital One customer. You may still be able to qualify with a fair credit score if other credentials tip the scale in your favor.

Bank of America Auto Refinance: 3.19% APR

Bank of America offers rates as low as 3.19% APR, but this estimate varies by state and by term. 3.19% is specific to the 60-month term. Loan terms range from 12 to 75 months. Bank of America takes into account your credit history, loan amount, loan term and whether you qualify for Preferred Rewards discounts to set your interest rate.

The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program breaks members down into gold, platinum and platinum honors. You need to have over $20,000 in a Bank of America banking or Merrill Lynch investment account (combined) to qualify for gold membership, $50,000 to qualify for platinum membership and over $100,000 to qualify for platinum honors. Preferred Rewards clients that meet the criteria can earn an interest rate discount of 0.25% to 0.50%.

You can apply for the Bank of America refinance online and there are no application fees. There’s also no prepayment penalty fee in most states, but there may be if your loan originates in Florida, Louisiana or Ohio. After you submit an application, your rate is locked in for 30 days. You may be able to get approved online within a few minutes.

What are my chances of qualifying?

During the underwriting process, Bank of America takes a look at your debt-to-income ratio and creditworthiness. Your debt-to-income ratio is calculated by dividing your monthly recurring debt payments (credit card payments, mortgage payment, etc.) by your income. The lower your debt-to-income ratio the better chance you have at qualifying for this refinance.

Should You Refinance Your Auto Loan?

An auto refinance can potentially save you money, but you need to crunch the numbers to make sure it will benefit your situation. The loan term length is an important factor to consider besides interest. If a refinance increases the number of monthly payments you need to make before the loan is paid off, the savings you get from an interest rate deduction may be less significant.

Financial institutions that offer a refinance, including Bank of America and LightStream, typically have refinance calculators on the website you can use to compare your current loan to see if it’s worthwhile.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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11 Things to Know Before You Lease a Car

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Car_lg

Nearly one quarter of new cars in America are sold under lease agreement, and low monthly payments entice buyers who want to drive new cars, but don’t want to deal with a large cash outlay.

Lessees don’t build equity in their vehicle, but for the right person, a lease can be a good option. These are things you need to know before you consider a lease.

1. The best way to think about a lease

It’s best to think of a lease as a pay for use contract. A lease allows you to pay for the depreciation you put onto a vehicle at a reasonable interest rate. You get to drive and depreciate a vehicle for a certain period of time then you can walk away.

Due to higher markups, higher interest rates and additional fees, leasing tends to be an unfavorable financing mechanism, but if you don’t care about owning the car, a lease may be a good option for you.

As a lessee, you will drive the car during its most rapid depreciation phase, so in the long run, continuously leasing a vehicle is the most expensive way to drive, but if you always want to drive a new car, leasing can be a low hassle way to make that happen.

2. Leasing affects your credit score

Taking on a lease affects your credit the same way that taking on a car loan affects your credit. Applying for a lease triggers a credit inquiry on your report, which has a small adverse effect on your credit score. Taking on a lease increases credit utilization which also adversely affects your credit score. Over time your credit utilization will fall, and timely payment history will cause your score to increase again.

Leases are considered installment loans, and having a high utilization rate on installment loans does not have as much of an adverse effect on your credit score as having high utilization on credit cards or other forms of revolving credit. As with any form of credit, late or skipped lease payments drag down your score

Further Reading: Credit Score Guide

3. Leasing terminology

Manufacturers and salespeople shroud leasing in complex jargon. To understand the terms of your lease, these are the definitions you need to know.

  • Capitalized Cost: The price of the vehicle. This could be MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price), or it could be reduced based on your negotiations.
  • Capital Cost Reduction: This is a down payment. The most favorable leases (for those who don’t intend to purchase at the end of the lease) should not include a capital cost reduction unless it’s an incentive.
  • Residual Value: This is the estimated value of the car at the end of the lease. The higher this price is relative to the capitalized cost, the more favorable it is to lease a car. Cars.com keeps a database of residual values on file that you can use to understand if you’re getting a fair residual value.
  • Factor, Money Factor or Rate: This is the interest rate of your loan, but it’s not expressed as an annual percentage rate. The number expressed needs to be multiplied by 2.4 to get to an APR. For example a 1.35 money factor is a 3.24% interest rate. LeaseHackr.com keeps an up to date list of “official” factors (column entitled MF) that you can use in negotiations. Interest rates on leases range from 2-3 times as high as interest rates on traditional car loans, but it is possible to negotiate this rate.

4. You can negotiate a lease

Unlike car loans, leases come from car manufacturers rather than banks. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to negotiate a lease. Anyone who intends to lease should try to drive down the capitalized cost, and people with good credit should also look to reduce or even eliminate the money factor. Small fees like documents fees, tire fees and more can be waived completely if you take the time to negotiate.

Even if a dealership advertises a “Manufacturer’s Leasing Special”, you should negotiate the terms of the lease. Salespeople depend on getting you to drive away in a new car, so consumers hold upper hand in negotiations.

5. No money down

One advantage of leasing a vehicle is that it shifts depreciation risk from the customer to the manufacturer. A down payment (or a capital cost reduction) shifts the risk back onto the customer. In a lease, a down payment is a form of pre-payment. If you terminate the lease before the end of the lease period (if your car is totaled or stolen), you lose the benefit that the down payment purchased. Putting no money down is an important strategy for keeping the lease in the lessee’s favor.

6. Extra insurance costs

Leasing yields lower monthly payments compared to buying using traditional financing, but some of the monthly cash flow advantage is lost by increased insurance costs. To protect themselves financially, lessees should purchase “Gap Insurance” in addition to traditional car insurance.

Gap insurance covers the difference between the actual cash value and the amount owed on a lease. As soon as a lessee drives the car off the lot, the car is worth less than the lessee owes on their lease. If a car is totaled or stolen during a lease period, you need to be able to buyout the lease early, and gap insurance allows you to do that. Gap insurance should be purchased through a traditional insurer, and adds anywhere from 3-10% to the traditional cost of insurance.

7. Fees, fees, fees

Every lessee runs into at least three substantial fees during the course of their lease. The first fee is an acquisition fee (alternatively called a financing fee). This fee is not a down payment, but it runs anywhere from $500 for basic compact cars to nearly $1,000 for luxury vehicles.

Dealerships also charge a $300-$900 Delivery Charge which covers the cost of the vehicle being delivered to the dealership lot. Lessees need to be prepared to pay this fee upfront, but some companies try to sneak a second delivery fee into the contracts. The second delivery fee can be negotiated to zero.

The last fee every lessee will encounter is either a disposition fee or a purchase option fee. These fees run between $300-$400 depending on which option you choose. When a lease ends, you will pay a fee to the dealership unless you negotiate it away at the outset.

In addition to these larger fees, many lessees will run into mileage overage fees which range from $.15 per mile for basic vehicles to $.30 for luxury vehicles. Most people drive more than their lease allows, and these extra miles cause additional depreciation on the vehicle. Since a lease is a “pay for what you use agreement”, it’s fair to pay for those extra miles. Of course you can avoid overage fees by limiting the amount you drive or by purchasing the car at the end of the lease.

You should negotiate smaller fees like advertising fees, tire fees, document fees, vehicle preparation fees down to zero.

8. Repairs required

Lessees bear the financial burden of repairs and maintenance on their leased vehicles. Some dealerships offer free tire rotation and oil changes, but the lessee has to pay for other maintenance. New cars shouldn’t require much maintenance, but accidents, chipped paint and broken windshields need to be paid for, and longer lessees may need to buy new tires while they own the vehicles

9. Exit options

Turning in a leased vehicle early is akin to defaulting on a car loan. Your credit will take a hit, and you will still owe money. However, it is possible to “sublet” your car through websites like SwapALease and LeaseTrader.

If your lease is about to end, you’ll have to decide whether or not to purchase the car or return it. If you want to buy the vehicle, you may be able to negotiate the buyout price. If you have the cash on hand to pay for the vehicle, and the purchase price is lower than an equivalent used car, you can purchase the vehicle outright and sell it for instant equity. If you have to obtain financing, the additional fees may erase any favorable pricing you obtained.

If the vehicle is worth less than the purchase price at the end of your lease, you should probably walk away from the vehicle or attempt some strong negotiations. Of course, the beauty of a lease is that the termination of the lease means that you can hand the keys back to the dealer and move on. 

10. Consider leasing if…

Anyone with midterm vehicle needs (only needing a vehicle for a few years) may find that a lease is a good value and a good fit for their lifestyle. Likewise, anyone who loves driving new cars and doesn’t mind having a monthly payment may enjoy leasing long term.

Continuously leasing vehicles is more expensive than “driving a vehicle into the ground,” but many people don’t mind that they get what they pay for.  People who enjoy driving newer, fancier cars may find that leasing can be a reasonable lifestyle, especially if they can easily afford the payment.

11. Avoid leasing if… 

Avoid leasing if you’re trying to drive as inexpensively as possible. The low monthly payments are enticing, but leasing is the most expensive way to drive in the long run. Leasing has high interest rates and high fees. If you can’t afford the monthly payments associated with owning a new car, consider buying used or choosing a basic model. Both of these methods end up being cheaper than leasing.

If you drive a lot, or if you frequently drive in poor conditions, you’re a bad candidate for leasing. The additional depreciation may mean that you’re left paying extra fees at the end of your lease. Additionally, anyone seeking to own a vehicle should pursue paying cash or taking out a traditional loan rather than leasing.

If you decide to purchase your vehicle instead of leasing it, it is best practice to get pre-approved for your auto loan before heading over to the dealership. [Disclosure: LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney.]We recommend starting with LendingTree. There are hundreds of lenders on this platform. After filling out your application, you will be able to see real interest rates and approval information at once.

Keep in mind, some lenders will do a hard pull on your credit and this is normal within the auto lending space. Multiple hard pulls only count as one pull, so it is smart to have all your hard pulls done at once, which LendingTree’s tool can do for you.

Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah at hannah@magnifymoney.com

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4 Ways to Make Owning a Car More Affordable in 2016

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Car_lg

Ah, to own a car. Let’s be honest — public transportation has its draws (the fact that we don’t have to worry about doing the actual driving, the environment, and all of that), but when it comes to convenience, nothing can beat your own set of wheels.

But can you afford your own set of wheels? This year we at MagnifyMoney want to make things as easy for you as possible, so we’ll walk you through the steps you should take prior to walking on that car lot to ensure that you’ll be driving away with the car that’s right (and affordable) for you.

1. Start with your budget

As with most financial decisions in life, the choice to buy a car should start with your current budget. Do you have leftover cash each month — or room to cut back on current expenses — so that you can make car payments each month? Starting with your monthly income will help you determine whether or not you can afford taking out a loan for a shiny new car (or even for a used one), or if buying something pre-owned and less expensive is the way to go. And remember — buying the car is just your first step. After you own it you’ll be in charge of paying for repairs, gas, insurance and more, all things you’ll need to factor into your current budget, as well.

If you need a little more help deciding whether an auto loan is right for you, check out this piece about the two times it makes financial sense to secure an auto loan.

2. Figure out your financing

If you’ll be going with a used car this year and paying for it in cash, in full, then you may need to figure out a timeline for when you’d like to purchase the car and try to break up your monthly savings to meet that monetary goal in time. If you’ll be purchasing a new car with a loan, though, you’ll want to do some shopping around. As with most loans, the better your credit score, the better your financing options will be. Online auto loans are a quick and popular way to get financing for your new car, but you’ll want to shop around. For example, check out this piece about the five best auto loans for a new car, or this one for the best loans for a used car. (P.S. You’ll also want to avoid the sub-prime auto trap at all costs … we can help you.)

Once you’ve figured out financing and know how much car you actually can afford, it’s time to head into step 3, the fun step …

3. Research your car

Are you interested in only American cars? Do you need all-wheel drive? What about those fancy add-ons like a sunroof, heated seats or satellite capabilities — how important are they to you? And safety reports — that’s got to factor in too, right? Start with the Kelley Blue Book to price out some of the vehicles you’re interested in, and then ask around for what people who have cars you’re interested in paid. A little research ahead of time will really help you when it comes time to head into step 4.

4. Negotiate like a pro

Once you’ve narrowed your list to a few car options and have a general idea of what you can (and should) pay, it’s time to shop. It should come as no surprise to you that negotiation is the name of the game when it comes to purchasing a car. Start with the fact that you’ve done your research and know how much the car is actually worth, be polite and don’t be afraid to walk away at first and come back if need be. Following up when the salesman is unlikely to make another sale for the day (and therefore would really appreciate yours!) is also a good idea, like on a weekend right before closing. If you can, you should also try purchasing your car at the end of the month or even the end of the year, when dealers are trying to move as much inventory as possible to make room for their new stock and are more likely to cut you a deal to do so. 

A lot goes into the decision of buying a new car, and a little research can really help a lot. If you’re still unsure of what your next move should be, check out this piece for eight more tips on how to score a car that you can afford and that you will love.

Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock |

Cheryl Lock is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Cheryl at cheryl@magnifymoney.com

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Auto Loan, Life Events

8 Tips for Hacking Your Way to a More Affordable Car Purchase

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Affordable Car Purchase

While the car buying process can be fun and exciting, the negotiation process is not always as thrilling. To make sure you get the best deal and don’t end up with buyer’s remorse, follow these eight car hacking tips before you buy a new car

1. Decide How Much Car You Can Afford Before You Shop

Buying a car is a huge purchase that is unique because you are buying a depreciating asset. A new car goes down in value as soon as you drive it off the lot, and it depreciates about 15-20% each year (30-40% loss after two years). This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy a new car, but it is something to keep in mind. You should make sure you know how much car you can afford before you begin the car-buying process. Create a budget, run the numbers, and determine the maximum amount of money that you can spend on a car. Then, don’t go over your budget.

[Borrow Before You Buy a Car]

2. Factor Costs of Ownership Before You Buy

Before you seal the deal, factor in other costs of car ownership. Include insurance, gas, maintenance, and any parking you have to pay for in your total cost of ownership. If you cannot afford your car with these additional costs, then buy less of a car – don’t extend your loan longer to make it seem more affordable.

3. Buy a Car at the End of the Month and the End of the Year

Late third quarter and into fourth quarter is the best time to buy a car because dealers are trying to move inventory off their lots to make room for newer models. Additionally, dealers want to increase their sale numbers for the year as much as possible. You will find the best deals during this time of year.

To make this even better, buy a car at the end of the month. Dealers want to increase their sales as much as possible and are under more pressure to make sales at the end of the month.

[The Credit Score Used for a Car Loan: It’s Not What You Think]

4. Never Buy a Car When You Test Drive It

The car-buying process is emotional and dealers rely on being able to tap into your emotions during the process. So, make it a bright-line rule that you never buy a car when you go to test-drive it. When you are test-driving cars, you are still undecided. Do not buy a car during this phase. Instead, set aside time specifically for visiting dealerships and test-drive different cars. Then, decide which car you want to buy – and go home. Do not buy the car while you’re visiting the dealership.

5. Negotiate From Home

When you know which car you want to buy, start the negotiation process from your home – either by phone or by email. Dealerships want you to come in to negotiate because they know the process is emotional. Don’t fall for it. Stay home and negotiate.

Contact several dealerships from home and negotiate to get the best offers. You are more likely to get a good deal this way and less likely to get suckered into anything if you’re not in the dealership.

[The 5 Best Auto Loans for a New Car]

6. Negotiate Up From the Dealer Price

When you negotiate with a dealership, negotiate up from the dealer price (aka invoice price), not down from the sticker price. The sticker price is the price that you see advertised by dealerships – it’s the amount of money the dealership is offering to sell you the car for. However, the dealer price is the price that the dealership actually paid for the car from the manufacturer (and really, dealerships pay less for the car than what is on an invoice).

The dealer price is not advertised, but you can find it out. Research the car you’re buying online to find the specific dealer price of your car. Don’t negotiate the purchase of your car until you have the dealer price. Negotiating up from the dealer price will get you a better deal on your car.

7. Decide on a Warranty Before the Dealer Talks You Into One

Before you negotiate and commit to a car, decide what type of warranty you want ahead of time. Research warranties for your car before you start the negotiation process, so you know what you are going to agree to. This way the dealer cannot talk you into a warranty that you really don’t want.

8. Finance the Smart Way

If you can afford to pay cash for your car, then great – do that. But if you are financing your car, do it the smart way. Contact your bank or credit union and find out what financing rates you can get with them before you check into financing at the dealership. You can also shop around for auto loans from other providers. Knowing these rates will help you determine whether financing with the dealership is a good idea.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to know your credit score and know how long you want to finance your car for before you commit to any financing. The more information you have upfront about the financing process, the better position you are in to make a wise choice.

[The Two Times an Auto Loan Makes Financial Sense]

Recap

When you buy a car, make sure you do your research ahead of time. Avoid going into the dealership before you know how much money you can spend. Avoid negotiating at the dealership entirely. Know what the dealer paid for the car and negotiate (from home) up from that price. Factor in all costs of ownership and make sure that if you finance your car, you finance the smart way by knowing rates from various lenders ahead of time. Whatever you do, do not make an impulse purchase and buy a car without careful consideration.

Compare Auto Loan Options Here.

Natalie Bacon
Natalie Bacon |

Natalie Bacon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Natalie at natalie@magnifymoney.com

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