Auto financing reviews

Click on the car brand you're interested in to read our overview of its financing options.

Finding the best car financing deals

When you get a car loan through a manufacturer lending program, you could save a chunk of cash in rebates or via low-APR financing. Make sure you apply online and get a preapproval before you go into the dealership.

You can apply for an auto loan preapproval through the automaker or another lender. If you’re able to get a better offer from the dealer, you’re always free to change your mind and discard the preapproved offer. But having that preapproval can give you peace of mind and help you save money.

Where you get the car matters. Dealerships in the same town are likely to have the same deals, but another zip code may be another story.

Look for low or 0% APR financing deals

In the current economy, 0% APR car financing is rare, but you can still find low-APR financing without too much hassle. You’ll need to have a strong financial profile to qualify for any lender’s best rate. Some deals require you to have a high credit score (710+).

It’s completely possible to get a bad credit car loan, but you should expect to pay more in interest.

Use one offer to get a better one

Apply to several lenders directly and see what they offer. Then take the lowest APR offer with you when you go into the dealership and ask the dealer to beat that rate.

It doesn’t hurt your credit to apply to several lenders any more than it does to apply to one, as long as you submit all applications within a two-week period. The U.S. credit bureaus allow a 14-day window for consumers to rate shop for loans.

See Auto Loan Offers

Ask about career rebates

Many car makers offer discounts to military veterans, first responders, diplomats, teachers, students and more. You don’t necessarily have to be in a certain career track, but you may be able to receive the discount if someone in your direct family or household qualifies.

About that small print…

A big deal may require you to spend extra money on a certain model with a higher trim level or package. If you’re required to spend more money than you would save, it may be worth passing up the deal. Here are questions to ask when buying a car.

Beware of timing

Sometimes, salespeople aren’t kidding when they say that a deal can be gone tomorrow. Deals typically change at the start of each month and, generally, there are sales each holiday.

The best time to buy a car is typically at the end of the month, when salespeople are pushing to meet their quotas. The end of the year is also typically a good time as the new model year cars are coming in and dealers want to get rid of older inventory.

Which is better: a low APR or a rebate?

Generally speaking, a rebate is better.

A lot of people take pride in receiving a low APR offer. But a 1% APR difference on a $30,000 car is only $300 in the first year, while many rebates are at least $500. If you have to choose between a rebate and a low APR financing deal, the rebate is almost always better.

If you need to choose, do the math and figure out how much a low APR would save you in dollars and think about how long you plan to keep the car. Often, you would need to keep the car -– and the car loan -– for the full length of the loan (typically seven years) to realize the low-APR savings.

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