Because many auto dealers are offering 0% financing, you may be confused and wondering if this rate is too good to be true? Unfortunately, in many cases the answer is yes.
Before we get into whether 0% interest is too good to be true, it’s important to understand what 0% financing actually is. When you get a car loan, as everyone knows you are borrowing money to pay for a car. The bank or credit union doesn’t give you that money for free. Instead, you have to pay interest, or a fee that you give the financial institution for lending you the money.
The phrase, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true,” is definitely something you should keep in mind as you search for a car loan. Many times the 0% is a “teaser rate” meant to get you in the door and may not apply to you or may not be the best deal for you.
The problem with 0% financing is that not every potential car buyer qualifies for this super-low financing. The too-good-to-be-true rate applies to people with very high credit scores, excellent credit records and little or no debt. That means only about 5% of the population qualifies for the 0% rate. And, if you do qualify you will most likely have larger payments over a shorter period of time, which may be difficult to fit into your monthly budget. Unless you fall into this category, you may get stuck paying a much higher rate.
You may be surprised to learn that even if you do qualify for 0% financing, it could cost you more in the long run. If the dealer offers you the choice of 0% or a cash rebate, taking the rebate and financing through your local credit union could save you money – even if their rate is higher. Let’s do the math:
Credit Union vs. Dealer Auto Loan
• Vehicle purchase price: $20,000
• Cash rebate instead of 0% financing: $ 3,000
• Amount financed: $17,000
• Interest rate: 2.49% APR or 0% with dealer
• Term of loan: 48 months
• Monthly payment: $372.46 – $416.67 with 0% financing
Total Saving/Life of Loan: $2,122.08
There are numerous reasons to get a credit union car loan. Below are just a few:
Credit Unions have the funds and healthy relationships with car dealers to make the loans.
You have a better chance of having your loan approved if you have credit problems.
Credit unions are non-profit organizations and work to provide members with high-quality customer service.
Members tend to have a more personable experience at a credit union so you can openly discuss your concerns about your loan, discuss flexible repayment options and review your financial situation.
Credit Unions are more likely than traditional banks to work with you if you experience difficulty making the payments because they are more in tune with their local communities.
You could get lower monthly payments with your credit union, because low auto loan rates are available for loans with longer terms as well as shorter ones.
You may save money on the total cost of the loan, because credit unions don’t charge application fees or prepayment penalties.
So, the next time you see a 0% rate, do your homework and get pre-approved at your local credit union before you even shop for the car of your dreams. An informed buyer is definitely the best buyer!!!