Tips for Getting Approved for a Mortgage

When you start your home buying journey, you’ll notice advertisements of beautiful homes accompanied by happy families that make it seem like there is an abundance of lenders waiting to hand you the keys to your new home.

The truth is, getting approved for a mortgage is not always easy, and getting financed for such large amounts of money can be risky. If your home-buying fantasies have been interrupted by application denials, it’s time to take control of your borrowing power and find out what you can do to turn those “no’s” into a “yes.”

1. Document Your Income

Borrowers mistakenly downplay the importance of a stable income history, especially if they have a high credit score or large bank balance. No matter how favorable your credit and financial status may seem, you will be subject to income scrutiny. Be prepared to prove your income by providing tax documents for the last two and three years and paycheck stubs from the past few months. You may also be asked to provide a list of all your debts, including auto loans, credit cards, alimony, and student loans, and a list of your assets, including investment accounts, auto titles, real estate, and bank statements.

In addition to proving that you have adequate income to cover the loan, lenders will verify that you’ve been working in the same field for at least two years – the longer you’ve been working for the same employer, the better.

Getting a MortgageGetting a Mortgage

2. Shine Up Your Credit History

Maintaining a positive history while you apply for home loans is especially important. Lenders want to see that you have a good record of paying your bills on time. Before you apply for a mortgage, review your credit report. Give your credit a boost by keeping your credit card utilization below 30%. If you have any past debts, pay them. Lenders want to see a flawless credit history for the past 12+ months – the longer you go without a negative mark on your report, the better.

Keep in mind that lenders may re-check your credit score during the application process, so make sure all your accounts are on-time and current and avoid any other large purchases that could affect your score until after you receive an approval.

For credit repair assistance, contact Credit Absolute.

3. Two is Better than One

If you don’t have income high enough to qualify for type of loan you need, a cosigner with an adequate amount of disposable income to be considered on your mortgage may help your approval rating – regardless of whether this person will be helping you make your payments or living with you. In some cases, a cosigner with a positive credit history can help someone with less-than-perfect credit. However, he/she should keep in mind that they are guaranteeing to your lender that the mortgage payments will be paid in full and on-time.

4. Offer a Larger Down Payment

If you can pay for a percentage of the home on your own, your application for the rest of your home financing just may tilt in your favor. The larger personal investment you have in the house, the less likely you will walk away from the property and let it go into foreclosure.

Having a significant amount of cash is also a strong indicator of how you handle your finances. Banks don’t just want to hand anyone a loan; they want to provide financing to people that are guaranteed to pay them back.

5. Consider a Smaller Loan

While your pre-approval may indicate that you qualify for a loan up to $250,000, you want to tread carefully in asking for the highest loan amount. In fact, the closer you get to your limit, the more difficult it is to get approved.

If you don’t qualify for the mortgage that you want and you aren’t willing to wait, try setting your sights on a less-expensive property. Consider a townhouse instead of a house, accept fewer bathrooms and bedrooms, or move to a neighborhood further away to give you more options. For a more drastic approach, consider a different area of the country where homes are more affordable until you can trade up or build your financial history.

Source: creditabsolute.com

Simple interest loans

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Successful borrowing requires you to understand how your loan works, and interest is a huge part of any loan. Simple interest loans are one of the three most-common types of loans—the other type of loans are compound and precomputed interest loans. Discover more about simple interest loans, how they work and whether you might want one here.

What Is a Simple Interest Loan?

Simple interest loans follow an easy formula for calculating interest. The interest is only calculated on the principal amount you owe.

Simple interest loans only calculate interest based on the principal amount you owe.

That’s in contrast to a compound interest loan. With that loan type, the interest is compounded into the principal and the entire amount is used to calculate interest going forward. That means if you’re not paying enough each month on the debt, your interest expenses could be getting higher and higher.

In a precomputed interest loan, the total interest is calculated one time at the beginning of the loan. The total balance—principal plus interest plus any fees—is added together and divided into the terms of the loan to find out how much you pay per month. For example, if you borrow $1,000, the interest is $150 and the fees are $25, then you would owe $1,175. If you took the loan out for a single year, that would be $97.92 per month.

Types of Loans That Use Simple Interest

Simple interest is used in a variety of loan products, including both vehicle and student loans. Personal loans and other short-term lending products might also use simple interest, and there are even simple interest mortgage loans that calculate interest daily.

It’s always important to make sure that you know what type of interest is being calculated on your loans because it impacts how much you might owe and how you might manage the loan in the future.

How to Calculate Simple Interest on a Loan

Simple interest is always calculated using the same formula:

Simple Interest = the principal * the rate * time period

For example, if you borrow $3,000 at a rate of nine percent interest for a period of three years, the math would look like this:

3,000 * 0.09 * 3 = $810

But you don’t pay that total interest right away. Your monthly payments would be around $105.83, and around $22.50 of your first payment would go toward interest. The rest—around $83.33—would be deducted from your principal amount due.

For your second payment, the formula would like this:

2,916.67 * 0.09 * 3 = $787.50

The principal has been reduced by your previous payment, so the total interest calculated is less. That means roughly $21.87 of the second payment would go toward interest, and $83.96 would go toward principal.

It’s a small change, but that change continues. By the time you make your twelfth payment, the principal is $2,048.11. Your monthly payment is still $105.83, but only roughly $15.36 of that goes toward interest and more than $90 goes toward principal.

How to calculate simple interest

Benefits of Simple Interest Loans

When the rates are the same, simple interest loans are typically less costly than compound interest loans. That’s because in a compound interest loan, your interest is compounded into the principal, so your rate is multiplied by a slightly larger number every month.

Simple interest loans also offer a potential savings option for those who can pay early. This works when interest is calculated on the loan daily, as is the case with many short-term loans and even some auto loans. Since interest is calculated daily, if you make your payment 15 days early every cycle, you get 15 days where your daily interest is calculated on a lower principal amount. Those savings can add up.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Simple Interest Loans?

The opposite is true, though. If you make late payments, you’re being charged interest on a larger-than-expected principal during the time when your payment is late. If you’re regularly late with your payments, that can add up to a month or more of extra payments on the end of your loan.

How to Pay Off a Simple Interest Loan Faster

The biggest benefit of a simple interest loan is that you can pay it off faster if you can put a little extra money on it. Here are three ways to pay off your simple interest loan before your scheduled terms.

Pay More Than the Minimum

Add a little more to your loan payment every month. If your payment is $235, pay a flat $250. Just make sure that you designate that the extra money is meant to go toward the principal.

Pay Earlier Rather Than Later

As previously discussed, paying earlier in a loan cycle can help reduce the total amount of interest you owe over time. This typically only works when interest is calculated daily.

Pay More Often Than Necessary

Make more than one payment a month. If your payment is $100 a month, make two $100 payments every month. Make sure you note that you’re not paying your regular payment early and that you want the full $100 of the second payment to go toward principal.

Always Double-Check Your Loan Terms

Before you try to pay down a loan early, make sure you understand your loan terms. You should make sure that you have a simple interest loan.   If you find that you have a precomputed interest loan, paying early in the cycle does nothing to help you pay it off early.  Additionally, some lenders include early payment penalties to ensure they don’t lose interest income if someone decides to pay a loan early. The bottom line for managing any type of loan is to understand your loan terms. Make sure you read them before you sign and pay attention to them during the life of the loan because they can help you save money or avoid extra expense.


Reviewed by John Heath, Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, John Heath earned his BA from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Ohio Northern University. John has been the Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm since 2004. The firm focuses primarily on consumer credit report repair, but also practices family law, criminal law, general consumer litigation and collection defense on behalf of consumer debtors. John is admitted to practice law in Utah, Colorado, Washington D. C., Georgia, Texas and New York.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

How Long Do Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report & Affect Your Score?

Your credit score is an important part of your financial life. Good credit can help you qualify for loans and credit cards and secure lower interest rates on those loans. Poor credit can make it expensive to borrow money and make some lenders refuse to lend you any money at all.

Usually, when you apply for a loan or credit card, the lender looks at a copy of your credit report. This places an inquiry on your report, which drops your score by a few points.

Understanding the impact of credit inquiries and how long the impact lasts can help you manage your credit score while applying for loans.

Calculating Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a three-digit number that lenders can use to quickly gauge your trustworthiness as a borrower. Scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850, with higher scores being better. Generally, anything above 760 is seen as an excellent score while scores above 700 are good.

There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Each tracks your interactions with debt and credit to build a credit report for you. Using the information on those reports, as well as a formula from FICO, they calculate your credit score, often called your FICO score.

There are five factors that affect your credit score.

1. Payment History

Your payment history is the most important part of your credit score, determining more than a third of it alone. It tracks your history of timely vs late and missed payments. Making timely payments helps your score. Missed and late payments hurt your score.

One missed or late payment has a much larger impact on your credit than a single timely payment, so it’s essential that you work to never miss a due date if you want to have good credit.

2. Credit Utilization

Your credit utilization measures two things, your total amount of debt and the amount of credit card debt you have in relation to your credit card’s combined limits. The less debt you have, the better it is for your credit score.

3. Length of Credit History

The length of your credit history is also composed of two factors. One is the total amount of time you’ve had access to credit. A longer credit history means more experience with debt, which can help your score.

The other is the average age of your credit accounts. Lenders prefer borrowers who stick with credit cards and loans over those who bounce from account to account. The older your average account, the better it will be for your score.

4. Credit Mix

The more different types of loans you’ve had, such as mortgages, auto loans, and student loans, the better it will be for your credit score. Dealing with different types of debt shows that you can handle all the different types of credit.

5. New Credit

New credit looks at both any new accounts that you’ve opened as well as new loans you’ve applied for. This is where credit inquiries appear on your report. Each inquiry can decrease your credit score slightly.


What Is a Credit Inquiry & How Long Does It Affect Your Credit?

When you apply for a new credit card or a loan, the lender wants to know whether you’ll repay your debts.

Typically the lender asks one or more of the credit bureaus to send a copy of your credit report. When a credit bureau receives the request, it makes a note of the inquiry on your credit report. Each credit inquiry decreases your score by a few points.

Credit inquiries reduce your score because applying for new loans on a regular basis can indicate a risky borrower. If someone asks a lender if they can borrow $25,000 to buy a car, that is a relatively reasonable request.

But if someone asks to borrow $25,000 for a car, then needs another $10,000 personal loan the next week, and $50,000 the week after that, and then a new credit card a day later, it can throw up red flags. The person might be sending in so many applications because they’re running into financial trouble or because they don’t plan to repay those debts.

A single inquiry on your credit report can reduce your score between five and 10 points. It’s not a huge impact, but it’s noticeable for someone who is right on the border between good and excellent credit or fair and good credit.

Each additional inquiry drops your score, so applying for multiple loans can cause your credit score to drop quickly.

The impact of each credit inquiry reduces over time. If the rest of your credit report is good, your score will return almost to normal within a few months. Inquiries completely fall off your report after two years.


Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries

When someone checks your credit report, it can place an inquiry on the report and drop your score. This can sound scary to people who use a credit monitoring service to keep an eye on their credit score.

The good news is that not every inquiry will hurt your credit score. When you apply for credit, lenders typically make something called a hard inquiry when asking the credit bureaus for a copy of your report. The bureaus take note of hard inquiries and put them on your credit report.

By contrast, soft inquiries are used by credit monitoring services or companies offering promotional credit offers or those helping you check if you’re pre-approved for certain products.

The credit bureaus don’t record soft inquiries into your credit, which means that soft inquiries have no effect on your credit score.

In simple terms, applying for a new loan or credit card usually involves a hard inquiry. Checking your credit without actually applying for a loan or credit card usually involves a soft inquiry.


What About Rate Shopping?

One of the best ways to save money on a loan — especially a large loan like a mortgage or an auto loan — is to shop around. If you get quotes from multiple lenders, you can choose the one with the lowest interest rate and fees to minimize your costs.

If each application results in a hard inquiry that hurts your credit score, rate shopping too extensively could damage your credit.

The good news for borrowers is that the FICO scoring formula accounts for the importance of rate shopping. For large loans like mortgages, auto loans, and student loans, all inquiries that occur within a short span — 14 to 45 days depending on the formula used — are treated as a single inquiry when calculating your score.

That means that you can safely compare rates from multiple lenders, as long as you get your quotes within a short period.


Final Word

Applying for credit cards or loans can place credit inquiries on your credit report, which can drop your score. To make sure you keep your score healthy, do your best to only apply for loans that you need.

As long as you use your credit responsibly and don’t apply for too many accounts in a short period, you shouldn’t have to worry about the impact that inquiries have on your credit score.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Interview with a Car Broker

Buying a car with bad credit is possible—it’s just going to cost you. You’ll probably have a higher interest rate and require a bigger down payment, and you may have a much smaller selection to choose from than someone with a better credit history.

Here’s how to go about buying a car with bad credit and what you’ll need to be aware of to avoid being overcharged.

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1. Check Your Credit
2. Improve Your Score
3. Fix Credit Errors
4. Know What You Can Pay
5. Make a Bigger Down Payment
6. Get a Shorter Loan
7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer
8. Get Preapproved
9. Get a Co-signer
10. Comparison Shop
11. Read the Fine Print
12. Refinance

Buying a Car With Bad Credit

If you have poor or bad credit, buying a vehicle requires some common steps that people with good credit don’t necessarily need to worry about. Consider taking these steps when buying a car with bad credit.

1. Check Your Credit

If your credit is poor, you may be stuck paying a higher interest rate until you can improve your credit scores. Your credit score is a huge factor when it comes to the interest rate and credit financing you will receive for your auto loan—or if you’ll be approved at all. You’ll want to go into this process knowing what your score is and what your options are.

Check your credit from all three major credit bureaus several months before you begin your car shopping journey so you have time to rebuild your credit if possible. Track your credit history to determine the areas where you can most improve before applying for a car loan.

2. Improve Your Score

There is no official minimum credit score you need to buy a car, but a higher score will open up more options and better rates. According to Experian, the average credit score for used car purchases at the end of 2018 was 659.

If your score is below 660, look for ways to improve your score before applying for a car loan. Your free Credit Report Card from Credit.com will help you determine the most efficient ways to improve your score: paying off debt, clearing up errors or taking care of old collection accounts could bump you over that coveted 700 threshold. Delaying the car finance process to improve your poor credit score and rebuild your credit can save you money in the long run.

3. Fix Credit Errors

If you find mistakes on your credit reports, fixing those errors could bring your score up quite a bit. If possible, give yourself at least 30 days to dispute credit report mistakes before you start car shopping and looking for an auto finance company or submit a loan application. If you think this is your best option, you can try DIY credit repair, or work with a credit repair service such as those from Lexington Law.

4. Know What You Can Pay

Whether or not you’re able to improve your credit score, you should know what you can afford to pay before you start shopping—and stay committed to your budget. Auto loan calculators are helpful tools to use when you are trying to determine how much car you can afford. These calculators can also provide you with an estimate of what you will be paying for the entire term of the auto loan, interest included.

〉 Try it now: Auto Loan Calculator

5. Make a Bigger Down Payment

If your score is still on the low side and you don’t have more time to rebuild your credit before purchasing a car, be prepared to put a large chunk of money down. If you’re able to put down more money, you can borrow less money—which will usually mean more savings overall. How much you have to put down on a car with bad credit depends on how low your score is (and why) as well as the price of the car and the dealer you’re working with. In general, at least $1,000 or 10% of the purchase price is recommended.

If you’re unable to put any money down, your options will be severely limited. You may be able to buy a car from a private seller who is willing to take payments, but this scenario is unlikely.

6. Get a Shorter Loan

Longer loans are generally considered a higher risk: there’s more time for you to potentially default on the loan, so the interest rates tend to be higher. The monthly payments will be higher for shorter loans, however, so make sure you are able to fit this into your budget with some room to spare.

7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer

If you need a car now and have a credit score that falls below the 600 range, you may need to go to bad credit car dealerships that specialize in no-credit or poor-credit buyers. These dealerships will work with your credit history to get approval, but interest rates will likely be high and terms may be unfavorable.

8. Get Preapproved

Getting preapproval for auto financing from a bank or credit union could better prepare you for the car shopping process. This preapproval process analyzes your income, expenses, credit score and credit report and determines if you qualify for an auto loan from the lender and how much the lender would be willing to lend. Submitting your paperwork early and learning what obstacles you face could spare you a lot of headaches later when going through the loan approval process.

9. Get a Co-signer

If you have a poor credit score, it may be helpful to get a co-signer for your loan application. Not all lenders offer this option, so consider this carefully before moving forward.

10. Comparison Shop

Always shop around for your loan. You never know what options are available until you look. Look for the best possible terms and make sure that you can actually afford the payments so you don’t end up negatively affecting your credit even more. It’s also a good idea to compare rates from other lenders like banks or credit unions before settling on a loan straight from the dealership.

11. Read the Fine Print

The fine print can make a big difference in the overall purchase price of the vehicle, especially if your credit means a high interest rate. Make sure there’s no prepayment penalty so you’re not fined for paying off a loan quicker than agreed, and avoid pricey add-ons that increase the sales price.

12. Refinance

Auto loan refinancing could help lower your auto loan rates and your monthly payment, which could end up saving you hundreds over the life of the loan. For loan refinancing, you typically want a strong history of making on-time payments for at least 12 months. However, keep in mind that the loan refinancing will also take your credit history and current credit scores into account as well. So, as always, continue working diligently to improve and rebuild your credit rating.

Key Takeaways

Whether or not you can get a car loan with bad credit depends on many factors. If you follow these tips, you may be able to get an auto loan and save money even with poor credit scores.

You can view your credit score and get an easy-to-understand Credit Report Card for free at Credit.com or via the mobile app for iPhone and Android. Start by taking a look at what factors are having the most impact on your scores and credit rating so you know what to address first.

Source: credit.com

Car payment too high

Buying a car with bad credit is possible—it’s just going to cost you. You’ll probably have a higher interest rate and require a bigger down payment, and you may have a much smaller selection to choose from than someone with a better credit history.

Here’s how to go about buying a car with bad credit and what you’ll need to be aware of to avoid being overcharged.

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1. Check Your Credit
2. Improve Your Score
3. Fix Credit Errors
4. Know What You Can Pay
5. Make a Bigger Down Payment
6. Get a Shorter Loan
7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer
8. Get Preapproved
9. Get a Co-signer
10. Comparison Shop
11. Read the Fine Print
12. Refinance

Buying a Car With Bad Credit

If you have poor or bad credit, buying a vehicle requires some common steps that people with good credit don’t necessarily need to worry about. Consider taking these steps when buying a car with bad credit.

1. Check Your Credit

If your credit is poor, you may be stuck paying a higher interest rate until you can improve your credit scores. Your credit score is a huge factor when it comes to the interest rate and credit financing you will receive for your auto loan—or if you’ll be approved at all. You’ll want to go into this process knowing what your score is and what your options are.

Check your credit from all three major credit bureaus several months before you begin your car shopping journey so you have time to rebuild your credit if possible. Track your credit history to determine the areas where you can most improve before applying for a car loan.

2. Improve Your Score

There is no official minimum credit score you need to buy a car, but a higher score will open up more options and better rates. According to Experian, the average credit score for used car purchases at the end of 2018 was 659.

If your score is below 660, look for ways to improve your score before applying for a car loan. Your free Credit Report Card from Credit.com will help you determine the most efficient ways to improve your score: paying off debt, clearing up errors or taking care of old collection accounts could bump you over that coveted 700 threshold. Delaying the car finance process to improve your poor credit score and rebuild your credit can save you money in the long run.

3. Fix Credit Errors

If you find mistakes on your credit reports, fixing those errors could bring your score up quite a bit. If possible, give yourself at least 30 days to dispute credit report mistakes before you start car shopping and looking for an auto finance company or submit a loan application. If you think this is your best option, you can try DIY credit repair, or work with a credit repair service such as those from Lexington Law.

4. Know What You Can Pay

Whether or not you’re able to improve your credit score, you should know what you can afford to pay before you start shopping—and stay committed to your budget. Auto loan calculators are helpful tools to use when you are trying to determine how much car you can afford. These calculators can also provide you with an estimate of what you will be paying for the entire term of the auto loan, interest included.

〉 Try it now: Auto Loan Calculator

5. Make a Bigger Down Payment

If your score is still on the low side and you don’t have more time to rebuild your credit before purchasing a car, be prepared to put a large chunk of money down. If you’re able to put down more money, you can borrow less money—which will usually mean more savings overall. How much you have to put down on a car with bad credit depends on how low your score is (and why) as well as the price of the car and the dealer you’re working with. In general, at least $1,000 or 10% of the purchase price is recommended.

If you’re unable to put any money down, your options will be severely limited. You may be able to buy a car from a private seller who is willing to take payments, but this scenario is unlikely.

6. Get a Shorter Loan

Longer loans are generally considered a higher risk: there’s more time for you to potentially default on the loan, so the interest rates tend to be higher. The monthly payments will be higher for shorter loans, however, so make sure you are able to fit this into your budget with some room to spare.

7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer

If you need a car now and have a credit score that falls below the 600 range, you may need to go to bad credit car dealerships that specialize in no-credit or poor-credit buyers. These dealerships will work with your credit history to get approval, but interest rates will likely be high and terms may be unfavorable.

8. Get Preapproved

Getting preapproval for auto financing from a bank or credit union could better prepare you for the car shopping process. This preapproval process analyzes your income, expenses, credit score and credit report and determines if you qualify for an auto loan from the lender and how much the lender would be willing to lend. Submitting your paperwork early and learning what obstacles you face could spare you a lot of headaches later when going through the loan approval process.

9. Get a Co-signer

If you have a poor credit score, it may be helpful to get a co-signer for your loan application. Not all lenders offer this option, so consider this carefully before moving forward.

10. Comparison Shop

Always shop around for your loan. You never know what options are available until you look. Look for the best possible terms and make sure that you can actually afford the payments so you don’t end up negatively affecting your credit even more. It’s also a good idea to compare rates from other lenders like banks or credit unions before settling on a loan straight from the dealership.

11. Read the Fine Print

The fine print can make a big difference in the overall purchase price of the vehicle, especially if your credit means a high interest rate. Make sure there’s no prepayment penalty so you’re not fined for paying off a loan quicker than agreed, and avoid pricey add-ons that increase the sales price.

12. Refinance

Auto loan refinancing could help lower your auto loan rates and your monthly payment, which could end up saving you hundreds over the life of the loan. For loan refinancing, you typically want a strong history of making on-time payments for at least 12 months. However, keep in mind that the loan refinancing will also take your credit history and current credit scores into account as well. So, as always, continue working diligently to improve and rebuild your credit rating.

Key Takeaways

Whether or not you can get a car loan with bad credit depends on many factors. If you follow these tips, you may be able to get an auto loan and save money even with poor credit scores.

You can view your credit score and get an easy-to-understand Credit Report Card for free at Credit.com or via the mobile app for iPhone and Android. Start by taking a look at what factors are having the most impact on your scores and credit rating so you know what to address first.

Source: credit.com

4 Credit Cards That Can Help You Save for a Car

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price for a light vehicle in the United States was almost $38,000 in March 2020. Of course, the sticker price will depend on whether you want a small economy car, a luxury midsize sedan, an SUV or something in between. But the total you pay for a vehicle also depends on a number of other factors if you’re taking out a car loan.

Get the 4-1-1 on financing a car so you can make the best decision for your next vehicle purchase.

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Decide Whether to Finance a Car

Whether or not you should finance your next vehicle purchase is a personal decision. Most people finance because they don’t have an extra $20,000 to $50,000 they want to part with. But if you have the cash, paying for the car outright is the most economical way to purchase it.

For most people, deciding whether to finance a car comes down to a few considerations:

  • Do you need the vehicle enough to warrant making a monthly payment on it for several years?
  • Does the monthly payment work within your personal budget?
  • Is the deal, including the interest rate, appropriate?

Factors to Consider When Financing a Car

Obviously, the first thing to consider is whether you can afford the vehicle. But to understand that, you need to consider a few factors.

  • Total purchase price. Total purchase price is the biggest impact on how much you’ll pay for the car. It includes the price of the car plus any add-ons that you’re financing. Depending on the state and your own preferences, that might include extra options on the vehicle, taxes and other fees and warranty coverage.
  • Interest rate, or APR. The interest rate is typically the second biggest factor in how much you’ll pay overall for a car you finance. APR sounds complex, but the most important thing is that the higher it is, the more you pay over time. Consider a $30,000 car loan for five years with an interest rate of 6%—you pay a total of $34,799 for the vehicle. That same loan with a rate of 9% means you pay $37,365 for the car.
  • The terms. A loan term refers to the length of time you have to pay off the loan. The longer you extend terms, the less your monthly payment is. But the faster you pay off the loan, the less interest you pay overall. Edmunds notes that the current average for car loans is 72 months, or six years, but it recommends no more than five years for those who can make the payments work.

It’s important to consider the practical side of your vehicle purchase. If you take out a car loan for eight years, is your car going to still be in good working order by the time you get to the last few years? If you’re not careful, you could be making a large monthly payment while you’re also paying for car repairs on an older car.

Buying a Car with No Credit

You can buy a car anytime if you have the cash for the purchase. If you have no credit or bad credit, your options for financing a car might be limited. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get a car loan without credit.

Many banks and lenders are willing to work with people with limited credit histories. Your interest rate will likely be higher than someone with excellent credit can command, though. And you might be limited on how much you can borrow, so you probably shouldn’t start looking at luxury SUVs. One tip for increasing your chances is to put as much cash down as you can when you buy the car.

If you can’t get a car loan on your own, you might consider a cosigner. There are pros and cons to asking someone else to sign on your loan, but it can get you into the credit game when the door is otherwise barred.

Personal Loans v. Car Loans: Which One Is Better?

Many people wonder if they should use a personal loan to buy a car or if there is really any difference between these types of financing. While technically a car loan is a loan you take out personally, it’s not the same thing as a personal loan.

Personal loans are usually unsecured loans offered over relatively short-term periods. The funds you get from a personal loan can typically be used for a variety of purposes and, in some cases, that might include buying a car. There are some great reasons to use a personal loan to buy a car:

  • If you’re buying a car from a private seller, a personal loan can hasten the process.
  • Traditional auto loans typically require full coverage insurance for the vehicle. A personal loan and liability insurance may be less expensive.
  • Lenders typically aren’t interested in financing cars that aren’t in driving shape, so if you’re buying a project car to work on in your garage during your downtime, a personal loan may be the better option.

But personal loans aren’t necessarily tied to the car like an auto loan is. That means the lender doesn’t necessarily have the ability to repossess the car if you stop paying the loan. Since that increases the risk for the lender, they may charge a higher interest rate on the loan than you’d find with a traditional auto loan. Personal loans typically have shorter terms and lower limits than auto loans as well, potentially making it more difficult for you to afford a car using a personal loan.

Steps You Should Follow When Financing a Car

Before you jump in and apply for that car loan, review these six steps you should take first.

1. Check your credit to understand whether you are likely to be approved for a loan. Your credit also plays a huge role in your interest rate. If your credit is too low and your interest rate would be prohibitively high, it might be better to wait until you can build or repair your credit before you get an auto loan. Sign up for ExtraCredit to see 28 of your FICO scores from all three credit bureaus.

2. Research auto loan options to find the ones that are right for you. Avoid applying too many times, as these hard inquiries can drag your credit score down with hard inquiries. The average auto loan interest rate is 27% on 60-month loans (as of April 13, 2020).

3. Get your trade-in appraised. The dealership might give you money toward your trade-in. That reduces the price of the car you purchase, which reduces how much you need to borrow. A few thousand dollars can mean a more affordable loan or even the difference between being approved or not.

4. Get prequalified for a loan online. While most dealers will help you apply for a loan, you’re in a better buying position if you walk into the dealership with funding ready to go. Plus, if you’re prequalified, you have a good idea what you can get approved for, so there are fewer surprises.

5. Buy from a trusted dealer. Unfortunately, there are dealerships and other sellers that prey on people who need a car badly. They may charge high interest or sell you a car that’s not worth the money you pay. No matter your financial situation, always try to work with a dealership that you can trust.

6. Talk to your car insurance company. Different cars will carry different car insurance premiums. Make a call to your insurance company prior to the sale to discuss potential rate changes so you’re not surprised by a higher premium after the fact.

Next to buying a home, buying a car is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make in your life, and you’ll likely do it more than once. Make sure you understand the ins and outs of financing a car before you start the process.

Source: credit.com

How Much is Your FICO Score Costing You on Your Car? (Infographic)

A FICO credit score is a credit score developed by FICO, a company that specializes in what’s known as “predictive analytics,” which means they take information and analyze it to predict what’s likely to happen.

In the case of credit scores, FICO looks at a range of credit information and uses that to create scores that help lenders predict consumer behavior, such as how likely someone is to pay their bills on time (or not), or whether they are able to handle a larger credit line.

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Scores developed by FICO can also be used to forecast which accounts are most likely to end up included in bankruptcy, or which ones will be most profitable. And credit-based insurance scores, which they also create, are used to help insurance companies identify which customers are least likely to file claims.

What Does FICO Stand For?

The name FICO comes from the company’s original name, the Fair Isaac Co. It was often shortened to FICO and finally became the company’s official name several years ago.

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To create credit scores, they use information provided by one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. But FICO itself is not a credit reporting agency.

Though a FICO credit score is the most widely used among lenders, there are other scores lenders can choose from, such as the VantageScore, which is becoming more widely used.

What is the FICO Score Range?

There are actually dozens of FICO scores, with each version serving a different purpose (more on that later). Generally, the FICO score range is 300 to 850, with the higher number representing less risk to the lender or insurer.

What Is a Good FICO Score?

Consumers with excellent FICO scores (usually around 760 fico score range or higher, though every lender has different standards) are likely to get the best rates when they borrow, as well as the best discounts on insurance.

What Goes Into FICO Scores?

Five main factors go into FICO scores, and they each have a different effect on your score. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Payment history (35% of the FICO score)
  • Debt/amounts owed (30%)
  • Age of credit history (15%)
  • New credit/inquiries (10%)
  • Mix of accounts/types of credit (10%)

All these factors are considered in other credit score models, so it’s safe to say that if you have a good FICO score, you likely have a strong score with other models as well. However, for some people, the weight of these categories can vary.

For example, people who haven’t been using credit for very long will be factored differently than those with a longer credit history, according to FICO. So, the importance of any one of these factors depends on the overall information in your credit report.

That’s why it’s a good idea to not get too hung up on the specific number of your credit score. Instead, focus on what areas of your credit are strong and which ones you might want to work on to better achieve a good FICO score.

What’s Not in My FICO Score?

While FICO considers a wide range of information to come up with your credit scores, there is a lot of information that is not used. According to FICO, the scores do not consider anything that isn’t on your credit report, which includes your race, religion, national origin, sex, marital status and age.

Here are some other things that FICO says it does not factor into its scores:

  • Participation in a credit counseling program
  • Employment information, including your salary, occupation, title, employer, date employed or employment history
  • Where you live
  • The interest rates on your credit accounts
  • “Soft” inquiries (requests for your credit report), which include requests you make to see your own credit reports or scores
  • Any information that has not been proven to be predictive of future credit performance

Is There Just One FICO Score?

FICO has dozens of credit score models. Some are specific to what the consumer is applying for. For example, if you’re applying for an auto loan, your potential creditor may use a FICO score formula that gives significant weight to your history of making auto loan payments. Other models are customized for FICO’s clients.

Additionally, FICO updates its general formulas from time to time, with the most recent being the FICO 9 rollout in 2014. Paid collection accounts are not factored into FICO 9 scores, and unpaid medical collections have less of a negative impact on credit scores, compared to other credit scoring models and previous FICO algorithms.

A Few More Facts About FICO Scores

A lesser-known fact about FICO scores is that some people don’t have them at all. To generate a credit score, a consumer must have a certain amount of available information. For example, to generate FICO scores, the consumer should have at least one account that has been open for six or more months and at least one account that has been reported to the credit reporting agencies over the last six months.

Did you know that it is also possible to achieve a perfect FICO score? The best FICO score a consumer can have is an 850, and that number has been reached by only about 0.5% of consumers that practiced better credit behavior.

Paying all your bills on time, not carrying your credit card balances month to month, and not opening multiple accounts are all good behaviors to follow to help you reach your FICO score goals of 850.

Each of the three major credit bureaus will generate their own FICO scores. It is recommended that you look at each credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion because the FICO score for each may slightly vary. You may also find that there is more than one FICO score available from each reporting agency.

FICO SBSS

FICO scores are not just for individuals either. Small businesses also have their own FICO scores, and these scores are what banks and other financial institutions use to help determine if they should lend to a business or not.

The FICO SBSS is the small business FICO Score (FICO Small Business Scoring Service) and counts as one of three main business credit scores. These FICO scores range from 0 to 300 and like regular FICO scores, the higher the sbss score, the better.

To calculate a FICO SBSS, the personal and business credit history is considered alongside other financial information such as payment history to vendors and suppliers. These scores can then be used to prescreen or determine loan terms and credit amounts that could reach more than one million dollars.

If a small business would like to improve their FICO score, then they should take a closer look at their personal credit history while they take positive steps to begin to build business credit.

FICO Score Versus VantageScore

Like FICO scores, VantageScores are also utilized by all three of the major credit reporting agencies. The VantageScore credit score is another scoring model that was actually developed by TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

While both scoring models use much of the same information to calculate scores, FICO bases their model off the reports from the three credit bureaus to come up with one formula. They both use a scoring model with scores ranging between 300 and 850.

VantageScore is most often used if the individual does not have an adequate credit history while FICO is used if there is a history of at least six months or more. VantageScore credit scores are given to people who don’t qualify to receive a FICO credit score due to the short or nonexistent credit history.

In addition to a FICO score and VantageScore, you can also find a TransRisk Score. This score is also a three-digit number on a scoring model of 300 to 850. The TransRisk Score, however, is found with information on a TransUnion credit report and is not often used by lenders.

How to Get Your Credit Score

With a free Credit.com account, you get a free credit score. This is not a trial offer, there is nothing to cancel, and you won’t be asked for your credit card information.

You can also purchase a FICO score online, and some credit card companies also provide free credit scores with an account or on your regular statement.

Source: credit.com

4 Tips Before You Buy Your Teenager a Car

Roughly 26% of car buyers feel that they overpaid for their vehicle, according to a 2014 survey from TrueCar, Inc. That same survey admittedly also found consumers believe car dealers make about five times more profit on the sale of a new car than they actually do — but whether you truly paid too much for your now-old ride or you simply think you did, there are ways to save the next time you hit up a car dealership. For starters, the rates on auto loans are largely driven by your credit, so simply bolstering your credit score can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Plus, it never hurts to comparison shop and negotiate when it comes to auto loans and the actual vehicle itself — you may be missing out on savings by doing one and not the other.

But First… How Much Car Can You Afford?

According to Credit.com contributor and car insurance comparison company TheZebra, automotive experts generally suggest auto loans not exceed 10% (if it’s just the loan) to 20% (if it’s the loan and related expenses like car insurance) of your gross monthly income. Of course, that’s a broad rule and every potential car owner is going to have to take a long, hard long at their finances and current debt levels to decide what they can, in fact, afford. Following these three simple cost-cutting steps can help you save big on your auto loan and next car purchase.

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1. Do a Credit Check

Not checking your credit before you start shopping for a car is a huge mistake. Because your auto loan rates are directly tied to your credit scores, even a small inaccuracy on your credit report could cost you. Before you start shopping for your dream car, take an hour to check all three of your credit reports and credit scores online. You need to check with all three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — because you don’t know which one a lender will use for your application. If you have a credit score above 750, you can probably qualify for the best rates available and negotiate an excellent deal on your car. If your credit score is lower, see if you can give it a boost before you apply for a loan.

You can view two of your credit scores, along with your free credit report snapshot on Credit.com. The snapshot will pinpoint what your specific area of opportunities are and what steps you can take to improve. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can raise your credit score by disputing errors on your credit report, paying down high credit card debts and limiting new credit applications.

2. Shop Online

Unless you have a credit score in the 800s and can qualify for a 0% auto loan offer, you are probably not going to get the best deal on a loan from the dealership. Auto loan rates and fees offered by online auto lenders are usually a lot lower than the rates offered by dealership financing programs. Plus, you can shop and compare rates online without causing damaging inquiries to your credit report (provided you’re not formally applying for every offer you see). Most online lenders have calculators or rate guides that show you what rate you could receive based upon your credit score. (Note: Be sure to vet any lender, whether online or within a dealership, before taking them up on an offer.)

With many online loans, you fill out the application and receive an approval by email within a few hours. Then the lender mails you a check that is ready to be made out to the person or business selling the car. If you end up not buying a car or not using the loan, you toss the check (shredding it first, of course). Plus, the check from the lender usually specifies a certain price range (for example, $9,000-$10,000). This leaves you with some room for negotiating a lower price with the seller even after you have received your loan approval. Speaking of which …

3. Negotiate the Price

Many people may wind up overpaying for a car simply to avoid negotiating the price of a car with a salesperson. Luckily, the Internet makes negotiating with car dealers a whole lot easier. Before you start shopping, look up the listed price, invoice and MSRP of the car you want through an unbiased site like Kelley Blue Book and request free price quotes online. Armed with these facts, you’ll have an advantage over the salesperson when you start the negotiations. You should be able to save a couple hundred dollars, if not a few thousands, by negotiating with the car salesperson before you decide to buy.

Proving It

You may be thinking: This is all fine and dandy, but does it really add up to $3,000 in savings? Let’s crunch the numbers using this auto loan calculator.

According to data from Experian, the average interest rate on a new car loan for prime customers as of the last quarter of 2015 was 3.55%. The average rates on a new car for non-prime customers and subprime customers during that timeframe were 6.24% and 10.36%, respectively.

So, let’s say you wanted to buy a $16,000 car and had $1,000 saved for a down payment. If you chose a loan repayment period of 60 months, had a non-prime credit score (think just below 700), and got a loan through a dealership, you could receive about a 6.3% annual percentage rate (APR).

  • Dealership option: $292 a month – $17,525 total costs

However, if you checked your credit reports and scores before you applied and found a way to boost your score to prime (think around 750), your interest rate from the dealership could drop to about 3.5%.

  • Improved score: $273 a month – $16,373 total costs

You would have already saved $1,152 dollars, just by checking your credit reports! That’s a pretty good return on your investment. Next, you might be able to reduce your rate even more by shopping for a loan online with your new credit score of 750. Let’s suppose, for argument sake, you qualify for a 2.7% APR (the average interest rate for super-prime customers during the last quarter of 2015, according to Experian).

  • Online loan: $268 a month – $16,052 total costs

You would have saved almost $1,473 by working on your loan options using Step 1 and 2. Finally, if you went to negotiate with the salesperson you could probably make a deal with the seller to reduce the price of the car down to $14,000. In this case, you would only have to borrow $13,000 with your 2.7% APR loan from an online lender.

  • Negotiated deal: $232 a month – $13,912 total costs

Your total savings from following these three simple steps would equal $3,613 over the life of your auto loan!

Source: credit.com

Car Repossession: What to Do Before, During and After

So what can you do if you know you’re in danger of having your car repossessed — or if it’s already been repossessed? Check out this guide to help you before, during and after car repossession to help you and your finances survive this bumpy ride.
If you’ve missed even one payment, here’s why now is the time to dig up the loan agreement you signed when you originally bought or leased the car:
“Act very quickly,” she said. “Because at that point, the loan has not been sent out to collections.”
“Communication is one of the best tools that you have in the earliest stages when you’re late making car payments,” he said. “The fewer unanswered questions that your lender has, the more likely they are to try to cooperate.”

Car Repossession: What Can You Do Before, During and After?

And if you think hiding the car will keep the repo company at bay, you’re likely only adding to the fees you’ll end up having to pay as the company expends resources — including paying someone to follow you — to locate the vehicle.
“I would put it on that scale of somewhere around bankruptcy or foreclosure,” McClary said. “You can climb out of this hole, but it will take some time.”
Ready to stop worrying about money? The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been especially burdensome on auto loans borrowers. Unlike student loans and mortgages, there are no government-backed relief programs to cover a monthly auto payment.
That’s where you drive the car to your lending institution and hand over the keys. Doing so voluntarily still counts as a type of repossession, but you’ll avoid towing costs and other expenses the repossession company charges to locate your car.

What to Do if You Can’t Make Your Auto Loan Payments

But will a lender really take your car if you’re late on this month’s payment? It’s unlikely, according to Bruce McClary, vice president of communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in Washington, D.C.
The result is most devastating for subprime borrowers — those with credit scores under 600. Serious delinquency levels within that group rose about 22% between the fourth quarters of 2019 and 2020.

Pro Tip
If the deficiency balance is small enough, McClary recommended trying to negotiate with the lender to settle the remaining balance so you aren’t still paying for a car you no longer own.

If you had enough money to pay off your loan in the first place, you probably should have done this before the repo company took your car. But if you pay off the loan and all fees, you get your car back free and clear of any loans.

  • Ask about forbearance programs. Call your lender to explain why you’re unable to make your monthly payment and request a forbearance. Be prepared to share details and documentation if it’s due to a job loss, illness or change in family status. Your lender may offer a delay in your payment or a revised schedule of payments, but you’ll still be responsible for the loan — and oftentimes the accruing interest. But if the situation is temporary, a forbearance could let you delay payments until you’re back on your financial feet.
  • Downsize to a cheaper car. If you can trade in your current set of wheels for a more economical version — think smaller and older — you could roll your old loan into a new, more manageable one. Be sure to get a pre-approved auto loan to give yourself some leverage when negotiating the interest rate.
  • Sell your car. If you don’t need the vehicle, you could potentially sell it for enough money to pay off the loan balance, which would free you from monthly payments entirely.
  • Refinance. This option may be the most difficult to successfully pursue for many borrowers, as lenders have tightened their standards due to the current economic situation. But if you have an excellent credit history and you have stable employment, you could qualify for refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate, thus reducing your monthly payment.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.
If you haven’t been paying your auto loan, there’s a good chance you haven’t been paying your auto insurance either, and some lenders require insurance as a condition of your loan. Even if you haven’t missed enough payments to have your car repossessed, the lender could potentially take your vehicle due to inadequate auto insurance.

What to Do if Your Car Is in Danger of Being Repossessed

After taking possession of your car, the lender begins the process for recouping the money you still owe on the car loan, plus any fees incurred — think towing, storage of the vehicle, re-keying the car and legal fees.
Although lenders may have the legal right to start the repossession process the day after a missed payment, most give customers a grace period of at least 10 days when they won’t even charge a late fee. If you’re in this situation, the time to act is now.

  1. Depending on where you are in the car repossession process, you do have options for keeping your car — and more of your money.
  2. Car repossession can remain on your credit report for seven years — making it more difficult to qualify for another loan, increasing the interest rate you’re charged on other loans and even potentially affecting your ability to get a job or a place to live.

And although a voluntary repossession will affect your credit score, your lender will technically report it to the credit reporting agencies as a “voluntary surrender” rather than an involuntary “repossession” — which could help as you recover.
How can your bank, credit union or leasing company possibly have the right to take back your vehicle? Read your loan agreement.
Avoid a Friday evening car repossession if possible: Repo companies are often closed over the weekend, but they’ll charge you storage fees for Saturday and Sunday.

Pro Tip
The lender will sell the car, typically at auction, to get some of its money back. It’s technically possible for you to buy back your car by bidding on it at auction, but you’ll still be responsible for paying your old loan, plus all those fees.

If you don’t have enough money to cover the missing payments, you should explain your situation and offer at least a partial amount — in cash — as a show of good faith, according to Davis.
“The efforts to repossess your car typically start after you’ve missed a couple of consecutive payments,” he said. “If you miss two payments, you should start getting a little bit concerned, and if you miss three payments and your car is still sitting in your driveway, you may not have much more time.”
By contacting your lender early in the process, you’ll not only create a record of your attempts to satisfy the loan, you’ll avoid additional fees that the lender may incur by hiring a third party to collect your vehicle.
The first rule of preventing a vehicle repossession: Communicate early and often.
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If the amount is too large to settle, though, the lender will contact you and, depending on the state where you live, can pursue the deficiency balance through collections.

Pro Tip
The repo company cannot “breach the peace” — aka break the law. If the collector uses physical force or destroys your property, you can potentially file a lawsuit. Keep notes of all interactions.

Related Posts
An auto loan contract states if you fail to make a payment — and the process can legally start after one missed payment — the lender has the right to take back your car.

What to Do if Your Car Has Been Repossessed

“They could take you to court over the money you owe, and try to garnish your wages,” he said. “There are all kinds of ways that they could legally pursue repayment of that debt, beyond the sale of the vehicle.”
“There’s no shame in saying… ‘I have a couple hundred bucks in my budget, can I throw this on the loan so that I don’t get it repoed?’” she said.
If you know that you’re already in danger of having the car repossessed, there is a way to mitigate the financial impact: voluntary repossession.
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  1. Reinstate your loan.

    Your credit score will take a hit — a big one.

  2. Redeem your loan.

    If you can’t reach a deal with your lender, you should prepare to have the car repossessed by removing all personal items from your car, as repo companies can take your car at any time — whether the car is parked in front of your home, at work or at the grocery store.

  3. Give up your car, then buy it back.

    If you’re unable to come up with the money to get your car back, the lender will use the proceeds from the sale to pay off what you owe. If the sale price is less than your loan balance plus any fees, the difference is called the deficiency balance. That’s the amount you’ll be responsible for paying.

Pay the past-due amount, plus any late fees and repossession costs. You get your car back and resume paying your car loan.

Pro Tip
Your loan agreement should state how many payments you can miss before the lender can repossess your car.

But a car repossession isn’t the end of the world, so long as you commit to making smart money-management moves that raise your credit score and help get yourself back on the road to recovery.
Find your contract and contact your lender’s loss mitigation or collections department to explain your situation, advised Jenelle Davis, who worked in the credit union industry for seven years.
Your car has been repossessed. Now how do you get it back?

The Long-term Effects of Car Repossession

If you have the cash, paying off what you owe to make your loan current again may be the ideal solution, but there are other options if you’re struggling to make payments:
If you miss even one payment, and your lender technically can repossess your wheels.
“The difference between the two in terms of impact on your credit score is slight,” McClary said. “But if you’re thinking about trying to restore your good credit and how much effort it’s going to take, every little bit helps.”
You have a few options — some are less costly than others, but none are particularly easy:
Facing bankruptcy? You may be able to hold onto your car. Consult your bankruptcy attorney about whether your filing status allows you to retain property, including your vehicle.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Don’t destroy your car to get revenge. Your lender may not take the vehicle if it’s deemed worthless, but then they can’t sell the car to pay off your loan. You’ll end up owing more.

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The best way for the lender to get that money is to sell the car, often through an auction. So you’ll have to act fast if you want your car back.

5 Things Car Dealers Won’t Tell You

Whether you are shopping for a new car or a used one, you know how overwhelming the process can be. No matter how much research you’ve done, or how hard you’ve bargained, you may still second guess yourself, wondering if you struck the best deal.

Here are five things dealers may not tell you that can save you money on your next car purchase.

Invoice Price Isn’t Our Bottom Line

Most of us know that the sticker price is just a starting point for negotiations. And we may even know to research the invoice price. But most of us don’t realize that even when we buy a car “at invoice” the dealer has plenty of other ways to make a small profit. One of those ways is something called the “dealer holdback.”

According to Edmunds.com, an amount called a “holdback” is 2-3% of either the MSRP or the invoice. After the car is sold, the manufacturer pays this amount to the dealer, hence the name “dealer holdback.” On a $20,000 car, a 2% holdback would be $400.

Ummm, There’s Been An Accident…

Shopping for a used car? Your car dealer may be just as reluctant as your teenager to mention that the car’s been in an accident. “When it comes to accidents, it’s don’t ask, don’t tell,” warns Michael J. Sacks,  automotive consumer advocate and director of communications for 1 800 LEMON LAW. A dealer is not going to come out and say a car has been in an accident. You must ask. If you don’t and you find out later, how can you prove the car was misrepresented?”

In addition to asking specifically about accidents, you can check a vehicle’s history through Carfax. “While a Carfax report does not guarantee a problem-free used vehicle, it does help to reduce the risk. Never buy a used car without reviewing its history,” insists LeeAnn Shattuck, Chief Car Chick with Women’s Automotive Solutions.

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Low Monthly Payments Are Our Friend, Not Yours

Yes, most of us know that just focusing on the monthly payment, rather than the overall cost of the car, is a mistake. But that’s not stopping us from taking out loans of five years or longer. Experian reports that the average loan term for a new vehicle jumped to an all-time high of 65 months in the last quarter of 2012, up from 63 months in the last quarter of 2011.

The minute you start talking monthly payments with a dealer you’re in trouble, warns Shattuck.

“If you tell the dealer, ‘I can afford $300 a month,’ all they have to do is play with the loan term and get you the payment you want without getting you a good deal on the car.”

The longer your car loan, the more likely you are to be “upside down” on your loan, owing more than the vehicle is worth. That’s especially risky if you drive a lot of miles since the high mileage will also cause the car to depreciate more quickly. “The more miles you drive per year the shorter your loan term should be,” she insists. In addition, interest rates for 60- to 72-month loans tend to be higher. A higher rate combined with a longer term can add up to thousands of dollars by the time the car is paid off.

Your Credit Score Is Different Than Ours

If you’ve checked your credit reports and scores before you started auto shopping (smart move) you may be surprised to learn that the credit score the dealer sees is different than the one you have obtained. Credit.com’s credit scoring expert Barry Paperno explains:

While the typical FICO score predicts the likelihood of any account on a consumer’s credit report going delinquent, auto dealers often use the “auto score” version of the FICO formula to predict the chances of an auto loan — not just any account — incurring late payments.  To do this, the FICO auto scoring formula gives slightly more weight to auto loan-specific information on the credit report, such as auto loan payment history. The result is often a higher auto score than standard FICO for a consumer with positive auto loan history (all things on the credit report being equal), and a lower auto score if there is negative, or a lack of, auto loan history.

Of course, you still want to check your credit reports and scores before you need to finance a vehicle. Ideally, you should check them at least a month before to allow time to fix mistakes you may find on your credit reports. (You can use Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card for an easy to understand overview of your credit, along with your free scores. You can update your Credit Report Card monthly.) In addition, though, you’ll want to shop for a car loan before you set foot in the dealership. If the dealer knows you have already lined up financing, they can’t charge you a higher rate on a loan because your credit “isn’t good enough.” All they can try to do is match or beat the rate on the loan you’ve already lined up.

It Doesn’t Have to Be That Difficult

Dread haggling? Don’t make it harder than it has to be. “The actual process of negotiating a price for a new vehicle is a lot simpler than most people realize,” writes Mike Rabkin, a professional car shopper who walks car shoppers through the process. “It’s all about who you talk to and how knowledgeable you appear.” One strategy, he says, is to bypass the sales person and go straight to the decision maker. That person could go by different names, depending on the dealer: sales manager, general sales manager, fleet manager, Internet manager, etc.

“Whatever you do,” says Rabkin, “make sure you get competing quotes from at least four dealers. To know a good price, you have to know what a bad price is,” he says. “Competition is what makes them more competitive. Even if you don’t plan to shop at other dealers, you have to let them know you are shopping around.”

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Other experts agree. “You can buy a car with minimal haggling by calling and speaking to the fleet manager directly,”says Blair Natasi, PR director for MyRedToy.com, an online reverse auction service for car shoppers.

Or find a dealer that is transparent with customers.”The world of car buying is constantly changing and some dealers are finding that less pressure and more transparency helps their sales and earns them enthusiastic customers,” says Edmunds.com Sr. Consumer Advice Editor Phil Reed. “These enlightened dealers realize that many shoppers are well informed and they accept this and are willing to expedite the sales process accordingly. (They understand) how important customer satisfaction is for repeat sales.”

How do you find a straight-shooting dealer? Reed suggests: “You should try to learn as much as possible about a dealership before you give them your business. There is always the BBB to consult. We have dealer ratings and reviews on our site. You can always type the name of the dealership and ‘reviews’ into Google and you will get reviews from a variety of sources. Word of mouth from friends and family is also quite valuable, and it’s not uncommon for friends to refer you to a specific sales person. It’s important, however, to do all of your research on the price of a car, because a referral doesn’t mean you have an inside deal.”

And if you’re still not comfortable negotiating for the best price, you can hire a professional like Shattuck or Rabkin. The car I previously owned was purchased with the help of a professional car shopper and I was confident I got a good deal. I was able to pay it off early and drive it for a long time. My past car I purchased on my own, with help from my hubby, and while I think we did OK, I do wonder if we could have done better.

Image: iStockphoto

Source: credit.com