How to get the best trade-in value for your car |
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How to get the best car trade-in deal

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Everything you need to know to get the best price on your old car.

Trading in your old car for a new one can help you save when you need a new car. Unfortunately, car dealers will never offer you a premium price for a trade in, and they’ve got plenty of tricks up their sleeves to help sway the deal in their favor. But knowing what to look out for can help you negotiate the a better deal.

How to get the best trade-in price

If you decide to trade in your vehicle, there’s plenty you can do to ensure you get the best possible price from your dealer. In fact, you can start taking steps to maximize your trade-in deal long before you need to switch to a new car.

Ready to trade-in but need financing? Here are some products you can compare

Rates last updated November 13th, 2018

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Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Term of Loan Requirements Car Loans
Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
Varies by lender
Must be 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.
Typically 3 to 6 years
Must be employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month and be a current resident of the US or Canada.
LightStream Auto Loans
Quick car loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with competitive rates for borrowers with strong credit.
Good to excellent credit
Flexible terms
Good or excellent credit, enough income or assets to afford a new loan, US citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old
RateGenius Auto Loan Refinance
Connect with a network of over 150 lenders to refinance your car loan.
Income of $2,000+/month, vehicle has less than 150,000 miles, no older than 10 model years, loan balance is at least $10,000, debt-to-income ratio: less than 50%.
LendingClub Auto Refinancing
Lower your monthly car payments and save on interest through a fast and easy online application process.
Fair or better credit
Minimum of 2 years
Car must be less than 10 years old with fewer than 120,000 miles. Current loan must have a balance between $5,000 and $55,000 and at least 24 months left in its term.
MotoRefi Car Loan Refinancing
A car loan connection service for borrowers looking to refinance.
1–6 years
Must have an income of at least $2,000/month and have a vehicle with less than 100,000 miles.
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.

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5 tips for negotiating with a dealer

Keep the following tips in mind to ensure that you get the best trade-in deal:

1. Do your research

Knowing how much your car is worth will give you power at the negotiating table, so try to find out how much you can expect to receive when you trade in. Automotive data services like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds can provide you with your vehicle’s approximate value, including private, dealer and trade-in values. You can also look at private sale prices for your make and model, remembering that trade-in values are usually lower than private sales.

2. Know common tactics

Dealers are experts when it comes to buying and selling cars, so familiarize yourself with some of the more common negotiating tactics they use. For example, don’t be surprised if the dealer claims your car won’t be easy to sell, or that they’re doing you a favor by taking it off your hands — these are tactics designed simply to maximize their profit.

3. Use your own negotiating skills

Don’t bring your trade in to the table until the end. Negotiate the sale price of the new car separately to the trade-in car. Once you’ve reached a reasonable purchase price for the new vehicle, tell the dealer that you’d also like to trade in your current car and that the right price will seal the deal.

4. Shop around

Don’t be afraid to shop around for a better trade-in deal. You might be surprised just how much more you can get from a different dealer, so look elsewhere if you’re not happy with the price you’re offered.

5. Focus on the changeover price

Remember that the trade-in price for your vehicle doesn’t determine if you got a good deal. Look at the changeover price for your new car – that is, the purchase price of your new car minus the trade-in price of your old car. While one dealer may offer the best trade-in price, if their price for a new car is more expensive, then they may not offer the best deal overall.

Should I trade my car in or sell it privately?

If you’re buying a new car and need to get rid of your old one you can either trade the car in at the dealership or sell it privately.

Trading it in is a quick and convenient option that can allow you to negotiate a better sale price on your new car. Instead of going through the hassle of finding a buyer, you can take care of selling one car and buying another in one transaction.

You’ll likely secure a better price if you sell your car privately, giving you more buying power when searching for your next set of wheels. Selling privately on the other hand can be a lot of hard work. Between taking care of maintenance issues to dealing with potential buyers, private sales can be time-consuming and stressful.

Choose the avenue that works best for your situation. If you want to make a quick sale and get on the road with your new car, then getting trade-in value will be the better choice. If you have time to search for buyers and list your car, you can earn more by making a private sale.

Bottom line

Trading in your old vehicle can help you afford a new one. If it isn’t enough, consider finding other ways of financing your purchase.

Frequently asked questions

Image source: Shutterstock

Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping people find the right products for them. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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