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What should I know before I shop for auto loan at a bank, credit union, dealership, or other lender?

You may want to consider the following in order to shop for the best loan for your budget.

Just like you can shop for a vehicle, you can shop for an auto loan. 

  • How much do you want to spend in terms of total cost over the life of the loan? Generally a longer loan term will cost more in interest;
  • How much of a down payment can you afford? The larger the down payment, the lower the total cost of the loan;
  • Do you have a trade-in? You should think about whether you may be better off selling your vehicle yourself instead of trading it in.
  • Do you still owe money on an existing loan on the vehicle you plan to trade-in?
  • Do you want any add-ons such as an extended warranty, credit insurance or GAP insurance? While add-ons are optional and negotiable, adding them will increase how much you pay;
  • How much can you afford to pay for an auto loan each month? Caution: don’t focus on just the monthly payment alone, look at the total cost of the loan ;
  • Will you need a co-signer? There are pros and cons for you and the co-signer.
  • How quickly do you want to pay off the loan? How does the length of the loan fit with how long you plan to keep the vehicle? If you want to pay the loan off early, make sure that there is no penalty if you pay off the loan early (prepayment penalty).