If you plan on financing your next vehicle, you should take some time to shop for car loan quotes. Naturally you want to get the best possible interest rate, since auto loan interest rates are closely tied to your credit rating and credit score. Although you will need an excellent credit scored to get the best auto loan rates, most people are still able to secure some kind of auto financing. Free quotes are widely available online, and by comparing a number of quotes, you will get an idea of what to expect.
The first step in shopping for a car loan is to order a free copy of your credit report. If you find erroneous items on the credit report, you should get them removed before financing a vehicle. Once you review your credit report and learn your credit score, you will have some idea of the interest rate you can expect to pay.
If you find that your credit is poor, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score. Close accounts that you use rarely or never, because having too many open credit accounts can adversely affect your credit score. Avoid having accounts maxed out, and try not to make any late payments before applying for your auto loan.
Be aware that an excessive number of inquiries into your credit can have an adverse effect on your credit score. However, some inquiries count toward your FICO score and others don't. If you authorize a lender to check your credit before applying for a loan or other type of credit, it will affect your FICO score. If you request a copy of your own credit report, or a business requests a copy of your report before performing a service or offering merchandise, it will not count against your credit score. Likewise, inquiries by a potential employer will not affect your FICO score.
There are a few steps you can take to improve your credit score before you apply for an auto loan:
- Close credit accounts which you seldom use, as having too many accounts may lower your credit score.
- Try to keep balances paid down as much as possible. A number of maxed out accounts could be viewed as a sign of the potential inability of an applicant to be able to make the payments.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report and check it for errors. Many people find inaccuracies on their credit reports that have lowered their credit score. You have the right to have corrections made to any inaccurate items on your credit report.
Once you have confirmed that your credit report contains only accurate information, you should build a history of timely payments, lowering your debt to income ratio and decreasing your total amount of debt. Increasing your credit score takes time, since negative items can remain on your credit report for seven years, and ten in the case of bankruptcy. Fortunately, older items are less important than your recent credit activity.
Now that you have the foundation for improving your credit in place, you are ready to begin shopping for auto loan quotes. Getting online quotes is a quick and efficient way to test the waters and see what kind of rates and terms you will be able to procure. Obviously you want the best car loan rates possible, but you should also be aware of the terms offered and the length of the loan. If lower monthly payments are your goal, you may greatly extend the time it takes to pay off the loan.
Don't overlook banks and credit unions where you already do business as sources of auto loan financing. They may offer you significantly lower interest rates and give you more flexibility in the repayment terms of your car loan. Don't eliminate dealer financing as an option when purchasing a vehicle; just be aware that car dealers often add extra points in exchange for a lower interest rate, or charge more for the vehicle itself.
Unless you are able to pay off your loan early, it will usually take several years to repay. Making timely auto loan payments will help increase your credit score, which will allow you to get a less expensive loan the next time you purchase a vehicle. In fact, demonstrating responsibility with an auto loan is one of the best ways to improve your credit.
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