Most of us fall in love with a car at a dealership and that's the end of the story. Hey, where do I sign? Even if we do a great job of chipping away at the sticker price and feel pretty darn good about ourselves, we often get burned on the financing end of things. This is especially the case for people trying to score an auto loan with some bad marks on their credit report. Many times, these people are so surprised to hear that their auto loan has been approved that they sign on the dotted line before the dealer has a chance to change his mind! Only later do they realize just how poor they will be for the next 5 years because of the interest rate on that auto loan.
What are my financing options?
See, now you're thinking! Impatience will cost you in the auto loan game - every single time. Potential auto loan sources include: a traditional bank, a credit union, financing through the dealership, and the newest darling on the scene - online auto loans.
OK, so what is the best option?
Well now, this all depends. How does your credit history look? If you have a mortgage and checking account with a traditional bank, then they will probably give you a great rate on your auto loan. The dealership will often find an auto loan for people with a poor credit history - but the cost of driving that car off the lot could eventually lead to even worse credit, when they have the car repossessed because they can't afford the payments. The best place to shop around for the best rates on an auto loan is definitely online.
Uggh! I hate that stupid Internet! It takes me forever to find what I am looking for!
Oh come now - how long can it take to type "auto loan" into Google? If you don't care about possibly paying thousands of dollars more in interest by letting the dealership "help you out" with financing, then by all means go that route. But, for people that want the best rate possible on their auto loan, the Internet is the place to start the search.
But how do I know that I can trust those Internet people with my financial info?
Very good point - and that is definitely something to consider. To begin with, many traditional banks offer online auto loan applications as a service to their customers, which also saves the bank processing costs. You can apply for Chase Manhattan auto loans online or down at one of their branches. In many cases you will find that banks offer these online loans at a smaller APR than you can get by actually going down to a branch. Chase Manhattan auto loans is one example of this, but many financial institutions offer their online customers a better rate.
Now why would they do that?
Not too trusting, are you? Hey, that is a great trait to have when shopping for auto loans - don't forget it! What you are looking for is the catch, and here it is: In most cases, you will get a lower rate on your online auto loan because you will be required to sign up for automatic electronic payments. Plus, seeing a loan officer at the branch takes up the time of employees, and uses other resources that aren't needed when you submit your application online. But remember, not all institutions offer lower rates like Chase Manhattan auto loans. And even Chase requires you to sign up for automated payments in order to get a break on the rate.
And what else should I know?
At the very least, shop around for rates on auto loans using the Internet before talking with the traditional institutions, such as bank branches or dealerships. Just knowing what kind of interest rate you can get on an auto loan can help you when you are down at the dealership drooling over that hot new car! Remember, knowledge is power - so don't just walk into a dealership without knowing what kind of interest rate you can expect for an auto loan.