How to Get the Best Deal on Your New Car

gloved hand preparing to push a golf ball into the hole, text: They don't play fair. So don't play their game.

Use these tips to beat the dealership’s game.

So you're ready to buy a car. You get excited, let your guard down, and suddenly you have a much higher loan payment or longer term than you wanted. What just happened?

Whether you're car shopping for the 1st time or the 100th, going in prepared means walking out with a great deal on your new car.

  1. Know your credit score.

    There are a lot of reasons to know your credit score before you make any large purchase. When you buy a car, it's especially important. Finance managers can use credit ignorance against you by selling you a high-rate loan when you could get a lower one.

    Not knowing your current credit report will make you an easy target.

  2. Walk in with your loan.

    The best way to get a fair, honest rate on a car is to get your loan through us before you even set foot in the dealership. If you see us first, you can walk into the dealership with your financing already approved, saving you time and money.

    You'll know how much you can spend, your interest rate, and how much your monthly payment will be.

  3. Go in with the best information.

    If you're trading a car in, know how much it's worth. We can help you with that by giving you the Black Book value. If you know what type of car you're buying, we can give you the Black Book value on that, too.

    The Black Book Guide is widely used by dealerships to determine their car prices. When you know what the salesperson knows, negotiating gets easier. If you want to understand why knowing the Black Book value can help, you can learn more about the big three car value guides.

    A few minutes of research before you shop can save you thousands.

  4. Never let your guard down.

    Most people are already guarded around salespeople. Even the most honest and trustworthy salesperson is still pushing for a sale and isn't very interested in your financial well-being.

    The finance officer is no different. The people in the finance office are usually not financial experts and they're not there to give you financial advice. They only have to get the loan.

    Be just as careful of the finance manager as you would the salesperson. Both are selling you something.

  5. Know the traps.

    You’re already on guard against a high-rate loan. But you might not expect the dealership to offer you a loan at a far lower rate than you qualify for.

    It's a rate so low you don't want to say no. But after a few days, you get a call and find out that the financing fell through. Don't worry, you can keep the car—the finance officer found you a different lender. The only problem? Your new rate is through the roof, which raises your payment, and you've already signed the contract and driven off with the vehicle.

    Don't panic if this happens to you. Come to us—we can help.

  6. Don't tell them too much, too soon.

    Don't let the salesperson know your loan is covered until after you settle on a price. If you already have a loan, dealers have to make their money on the car sale. If they know that, they'll be less flexible on the price.

    When the salesperson talks to you about your trade-in, they’ll always ask how much you owe on the car. If you owe less than the car is worth, get the offer on your trade-in before you answer that question. When they know how much you need to cover the loan, that's the offer you might get, even if your car is worth more.

    Don't get fast-talked into giving away more information than they need to know.

  7. Be able to walk away.

    Whoever can walk away controls the deal. Even if the dealership's offer seems great, leave to think about it or let us help you go over it. We might be able to beat it. If not, we’ll tell you.

    If the finance officer says you have to make a decision immediately, leave anyway.

    Never trust anyone who doesn't want you to think over a contract.

  8. Don't let the process wear you down.

    These tips might seem a little excessive to you. Maybe the dealership's loan is good enough. You're only off the payment you want by $50 or so, and if you just sign the papers you can take the car home tonight.

    But that $50 every month adds up. Over a 60 month loan, that's $3,000 plus interest. Who would you rather have an extra $3,000—the dealership or yourself?

    Think of it another way: Would you volunteer to pay $50 more every month on your phone bill?

  9. Salespeople and finance managers aren't usually out to scam you. They're just people trying to do their jobs and make a living. But when you're buying a car, they don't have your best interests in mind.

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