Short-term or long-term?
A lower interest rate comes with a shorter-term loan, but higher monthly payments. A longer-term car loan with a lower monthly payment may make the most budget sense; however, it takes longer to build equity in the car. This means that early trade-ins or accidents before the loan is paid off will likely make the value of the car less than the money still owed. The other downside? Longer-term auto loans cost more because of the higher APR.*
Getting pre-approved for a car loan helps
Car dealers usually offer financing through their preferred lenders, but getting pre-approved directly with a lender helps a member to negotiate the best auto loan rate with the dealer. Because salesmen like to focus on the monthly payment, it’s easy to forget about the actual price of the car. But pre-approval leads to discussing the price of the car and may make the dealer try to beat your rate, giving you the option to choose the best offer.