What dealerships don't want you to know about 0% car loans

Is a 0% car loan really a good option?

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The 0% car loan: A car buyer’s dream or a deal too good to be true?

When shopping for a new car, you’ll come across dealers advertising car loans with extremely low interest rates — sometimes even 0%. This type of dealership offered loan is generally a sales tactic.

Before signing the dotted line and driving off the lot, there are some things you need to know about taking a 0% car loan.

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    What’s the catch with a 0% car loan?

    At first glance, a 0% car loan is exactly as it appears, you purchase the car at the agreed on price, and then make monthly payments on the principal of the car with no interest. However, keep these points in mind:

    • 0% interest may only be offered for a portion of the loan term.
    • To be approved, you’ll need spectacular credit.
    • Negotiating the car price will be difficult.
    • 0% may only be offered on some cars.
    • You may not get as much for your trade-in vehicle.
    • The loan structure will likely be set in stone.

    Why would a dealership offer a 0% car loan?

    There are different reasons dealerships offer zero interest. One reason is to get potential buyers in the door. Once a buyer has entered into a salesman’s territory, the sales battle has begun.

    Another reason is to move inventory. By offering a 0% car loan, they can get rid of the cars that have been in the lot too long and make a profit — even without interest.

    Is a 0% car loan cheaper than a regular car loan?

    If you make all of your payments on time and get a competitive price on the car, it can be. However, 0% car loans tend to have shorter terms resulting in higher monthly payments of a few hundred dollars.

    But if you’ve been approved for a 0% car loan from a dealership, odds are good you have great credit. You’ll probably be able competitive deals with a private lender.

    0% car loans vs. rebates

    Dealerships will often give the customer the option of a 0% car loan or a cash back rebate to be used towards the purchase price of the car. It’s the consumers responsibility to figure out what option will be cheaper when all is said and done.

    Alternatives to 0% dealer finance

    Even if you can’t secure a 0% car loan, there’s plenty of car loan options — compare alternative financing below.

    Rates last updated May 23rd, 2018

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    Unfortunately, none of the personal loan providers offer loans for that credit score. If you are in urgent need of a small loan, you might want to consider a short term loan.
    Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Term of Loan Requirements
    car.Loan.com Car Loans
    Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
    300
    Varies by lender
    Must be at least 18 years old, a US citizen with a current US address and employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income.
    Auto Credit Express Car Loans
    Get connected with an auto lender near you, even if you have bad credit.
    300
    Typically 3 to 6 years
    Must be at least 18 years old and a current resident of the US or Canada. Must be employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month.
    myAutoloan.com Car Loans
    Get up to four offers in minutes through one simple application. Multiple financing types available including new cars, used cars and refinancing.
    550
    24 to 84 months
    Must be at least 18+ years old; have a Social Security number; make $24,000+/year; have no open bankruptcies.
    LendingTree Auto Loans
    Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out.
    Good to excellent credit
    Typically 1 to 7 years
    Must be a US citizen and 18+ years old. Must have good to excellent credit.
    Capital One Auto Financing
    You could qualify for a car loan of up to $40,000, but not all dealers accept this bank's financing.
    Good to excellent credit
    36 to 72 months
    At least 18 years old, have a valid street address, have existing Capital One accounts in good standing. Car must be a 2006 model or newer with less than 120,000 miles.
    Wells Fargo Auto Loans
    Auto loans with high loan amounts to cover your car purchase or refinancing needs.
    Good to excellent credit
    1 to 6 years
    Your income and assets must support your existing debt obligations and the desired loan amount.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    What are the benefits of 0% finance?

    When it comes to car finance, there are a number of options with 0% loans that may work in your favor. When comparing loans, consider:

    • Shorter loan term. With shorter loan terms comes larger monthly payments. You’ll likely pay off your loan in just several years instead of the average five to seven.
    • No interest. Your payment goes directly towards the principal of the car.
    • Optional extras. With a 0% car loan you may be able to roll the cost of alloy wheels, leather interior, sunroof or any other luxury items into the finance.

    4 tips to make the most of 0% financing

    There are few strategies to use when buying a car with 0% financing that can help you use your loan as efficiently as possible, they are:

    1. Keep your loan under 60 months. There are longer car loans on the market that may seem attractive because of the low monthly payment, however, you’ll pay loads more in interest and by the time the car is paid off, it will have depreciated in value greatly.
    2. Make a large down payment. By making the largest down payment your budget allows, you’ll lower the principal and may be able to take on a shorter loan term in order to own the car faster.
    3. Get pre-approved. Getting pre-approved for a loan will not only give you bargaining power when shopping for a car, but you’ll also know exactly how much is in your budget.
    4. Pick the car you love. Don’t rush into buying a car just because you’ve been offered a great financing deal. If the car isn’t the right fit for you, keep shopping so you don’t make a purchase you’ll regret later.

    Bottom line

    Before you lock yourself into 0% car loan, research banks and private lenders to see if they can offer you a car loan with terms that are more suited to your financial situation.

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