According to How Stuff Works, depending on their credit score, the average American can expect to pay an APR (annual percentage rate) of anywhere between 6 percent and 18 percent on their auto loan. If you're shopping around forcertified pre-owned cars, chances are one of your biggest goals is to find a loan that features an APR you can afford. Whether you have less than perfect credit or a short credit history, here are a few ways you can get a better APR on your next used car:
Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt
One of the most effective ways to score a lower APR is also something that will make it easier to secure a car loan in the first place: pay down your credit card balances. Potential lenders will think twice about providing you a decent interest rate, or in some cases a loan at all, if you have a load of credit card debt.
Begin by paying down the credit cards with your highest interest rates. Once these are paid down or off completely, focus on your cards that feature the smallest balance. Whatever strategy you choose, try to pay off as much debt as possible before applying for a used car loan.
It might take you a few weeks or months, but paying down the majority of your credit card debt will make you much more attractive to lenders. Once you feel satisfied with the amount of debt you've paid off, check your credit report to ensure the lenders have reported the changes. Do not try to apply for the loan until your smaller balances are reflected on your credit report.
Opt for a Shorter Loan Term
While shopping around for a used car that fits your needs and budget, chances are one of the biggest numbers you'll be focusing on is your potential monthly payment. One of the easiest ways to secure a smaller payment is to extend the life of the loan. However, while this may lessen the monthly payments, you'll actually end up paying more for the car over the life of the loan.
This is because you'll not only pay more interest, but in a lot of cases you'll also pay a higher interest rate. Many lenders will offer you a lower APR if you opt for a shorter used car loan term. In addition to securing a lower APR, you'll also build equity on your auto loan much faster.
Even if you wind up paying a little more each month, or have to purchases a less expensive vehicle, securing a loan that is only 24 or 36 months can help you get a lower APR.
Work with Your Existing Bank or Credit Union
For many buyers, securing financing with the help of the sales associate is the only option they believe is available. In many cases, you can get a great deal in this fashion. However, if you simply can't secure the APR you need to afford the vehicle, look no further than the bank or credit union you've been working with for years.
In many cases, your bank or credit union will offer you a great loan with an amazing APR. In addition, your bank or credit union might also allow you to deduct the auto payment directly from your account. This can occur on a monthly, weekly or bi-weekly basis. Whichever set up you choose, you could wind up securing a lower APR simply for having your car payments drawn directly from your bank account.
From paying down your high interest credit cards to seeking a loan through your bank or credit union, there are several simple ways you can secure a lower APR on your used auto loan.