Cars, trucks, and other vehicles are expensive, so it's no wonder that many people buying new or used vehicles today will turn to an auto loan lender to help finance this purchase. Doing a little planning before meeting with the lender, however, may help you negotiate to save money as you arrange auto loan financing. To make sure you're getting the best deal possible, here are four questions to ask before signing the papers for that car loan.
Is This Your Best Offer?
As with many credit situations, auto loan offers aren't always written in stone. Depending on your credit score, down payment amount, and total loan amount, you may be able to negotiate a lower annual percentage rate (APR) than what's initially offered. Make sure you ask about any special financing incentives, rebates, or deals that could lower your APR and total interest costs. Find out exactly what the monthly payments will be, and about opportunities to make extra payments. Will it cost anything to do so? If so, ask if the lender will waive the fees. Also ask to waive or reduce any set-up fees or other charges.
What Do I Need to Apply?
When you apply for an auto loan expect to provide detailed information including the following:
- Your full legal name
- Date of birth and Social Security Number
- Current and previous addresses, as well as how long you lived at each address
- Current and previous employer, including length employed at each
- Occupation and all sources of income
- Details on all of your current credit accounts, including all outstanding debt totals and payments
Your auto loan lender will also likely request a credit report, so expect to be asked to authorize a credit check request. The lender will use the details from all of these sources to confirm that you can afford to make the auto loan payments based on the negotiated interest rate and term.
How Does My Credit Report Impact My Loan?
In most cases, your auto loan lender will include a credit check as part of your auto loan application. Your credit score, repayment history, length of credit, and your overall credit history impact the final interest rate you're offered, and if you qualify for special financing incentives or rebates.
The information found on your credit report may make the difference between being approved for a car loan and having your application declined.
How Much Do I Have to Put Down On This Auto Loan?
The amount of money you have as a down payment on an auto loan determines how much money you'll need to borrow and how much your monthly loan payments will be. The more money you put down, the less you'll borrow and the lower your monthly payments. Find out exactly how much you're financing. This is especially important if your currently financed vehicle is part of the deal as a trade-in. If you owe more on your existing vehicle than you'll get for trading it in, you could find yourself having to come up with a bigger down payment or with a bigger amount to finance than you anticipated.
When it comes to dealing with an auto loan lender, knowledge is power. Do your research ahead of time, ask the important questions, and most importantly, compare multiple auto loan offers for free online before committing to one.