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Buy your next used car for less with 5 great tips

For Mountain American Credit Union BrandView

Published: Monday, Oct. 7 2013 5:55 a.m. MDT

If you're one of the lucky few who has saved up enough money to buy your used car with cash, first off, kudos to you. Second, you can skip this section. For the rest of us, knowing what the bank can give you before you start negotiating with a dealer or individual seller is critical.

Many used car dealers make a significant amount of their profit by financing the cars they sell. While some can get you good financing, for most, they are more interested in a high-interest rate than your own credit union or bank, which are more incentivized to keep your repeat business in more areas than just car loans.

Shop around for you loan. Start with your own bank or credit union and then see what others have to offer. You can always go back to your own bank if you don't find something better. Chances are, if there is any wiggle room, they'll work with you.

Additionally, if you do chose to finance through a dealer, you'll have some ammunition to bargain with. A contributor on ficoforums.com shared his experience: "They offered me 3.8 percent, and with my credit score I was very excited about that (but didn't show excitement to them). But I didn't accept and instead replied, 'I'm still waiting on a few credit unions to give me their rates.' As I waited, none of the remaining CUs could beat this rate. But the original one that approved me for 4.89 percent was calling to follow up, I told them my offer from [the dealership], and they said, 'Let me inform my underwriter and see what we can do to beat that rate.' I didn't know CUs would rate match. They called me back and offered me 3.75 percent but said I could reduce this rate by another .40 percent by starting a relationship and autopay — a rate of 3.35 percent total and at only 650 FICO."


This is what used car dealers live for, isn't it? They're highly trained and even born to haggle. But if you follow the four tips given above, you will know exactly what you want and, best of all, can afford.

The good news is, you may even be able to get more than you expected as long as you're committed to staying on budget. According to marketwatch.com and cargurus.com "Just over 50 percent of cars listed for more than 30 days have at least one price drop. Everything is up for grabs to leverage a price reduction, including the odometer reading and the smallest cosmetic defect in the interior."

If you keep a level head, do your research, budget and courageously negotiate, the used car buying experience can be a lot of fun, especially when you know you've found the best car for the best price possible.

This article was paid for and produced by Mountain America Credit Union.

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