Aisha Bussey, Director of Marketing
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Dealerships can be like the DMV, an unhappy place that is a necessary evil to get what you need—in this case, a car. Car shopping is easier than ever, because the internet has given consumers the tools to power through research quickly, however all that research available can be overwhelming. You may just want to skip the research and dive into a dealership headfirst and hope for the best. Well, considering you are reading this article, you are now one step closer to becoming a happy car owner.
We live in the Information Age. The internet is a powerful tool and when it comes to car shopping, it can be leveraged to make sure you are walking into a dealership knowledgeable about your car purchasing options. Whether you are looking for a new or used car, check out Kelley Blue Book for estimated value of the car you have your eyes on; if you are trading in your current car, that website is also useful to lockdown a minimum trade-in value too. Read on to maximize your chances of walking away from the dealership happy.
You walk into a dealership and the dealer shows you a nice used car listed for about $11,000. You like it and they tell you it will cost you a low monthly fee. Great! Wait, did you forget about interest rate? Dealerships may give you free bagels in the mornings, but free money is definitely not falling from the ceilings. That $11,000 car now packs the dealership’s interest rate and hidden fees, all said and done, you could actually be paying about $25,000! That is what an ugly 18% interest rate looks like. If you do your work homework first and find a lender with a 11% interest rate, that same car is now costing you only about $16,000. Cha-ching, you just saved $9,000 and are definitely walking out of that dealership with a big smile.
Start your homework with learning about auto loans from Good Fund.
Think about it: Is a 2-door $55,000 Porsche a smarter buy than a $20,000 Toyota? Well if you don’t have kids, like to polish your car everyday, and don’t mind sitting with your groceries, then well played. However, for the most of us, a car is a practical item that helps us get from point A to point B in a safe and affordable manner. That $20,000 Toyota Corolla is one of the most popular reliable cars on the market and even a used 2018 model costs several thousand dollars less just for few thousand miles of use. See for yourself at CarGurus. Now take that same logic and look for cars that meet your driving needs and your budget; the two are not mutually exclusive.
“More expensive does not mean better. Look for cars that meet your driving needs and your budget; the two are not mutually exclusive.”
This one is optional as you may not have a trusted mechanic yet. For the lucky ones who know a good mechanic and are looking for a used car, have them check out the car you want to purchase in advance of buying—before buying is key or you may be very unhappy (see Happy Tip #1).
Most people get pressured from dealerships to use their financing options. They sell you on the convenience of getting approved no matter your credit score, the terms sound like a walk in the park, and they give you free coffee—what’s not to love? These are red flags and beware (though the coffee can still be okay). In general, it’s best to be on guard when using the same money given to you from the company you are buying from. “Instant credit approval” is a buzz word for predatory loan sharks or buy-here-pay-here car lots. If you have good credit, talk with your bank first and also check out resources like NerdWallet for financing options. If you have less-than-perfect credit and want an easy loan to use at any dealership, try community lenders like Good Fund.