How to Wade Through the Car-Financing Quagmire

If someone has $40,000 extra cash in the bank and needs a new car, it’s very easy to write a check and be done with it. Most people, though, will need to finance their cars. Also, it’s not always the best idea to pay cash for a car. For example, buying a car through financing is a great way to build credit if you can make the payments. So, if financing is the way to go, here is a list of options:

The Dealership

The best part of this option is the convenience and speed. You only have to deal with one entity, and the deal is usually done by the time you get the keys. Negatives include high-pressure sales tactics and, generally, non-competitive rates.

Bank or Credit Union

These institutions offer better rates and no pressure. The down side is that many banks have tightened credit qualifications in the wake of the economic meltdown. Also, they’re not usually available in the evening.

Online Institution

Most of the time, this option will present the best, overall interest rates and will usually approve someone quite quickly. However, they are, by their very nature, impersonal. You also need to watch out for scams.

Home Equity Loan

With lines of credit interest rates hovering in the area of prime, this is a great option for someone buying a pre-owned vehicle. Loans for this kind of vehicle almost always have higher interest rates. Of course, doing this ties the risk to your home and might not be suitable for someone who’s struggling in the first place.

Friend or Relative

“Rich Uncle Joe” may lend money at a much better rate than anyone else and might be fairly lenient regarding payback. The Germans have an expression, however: “Mit der Geldbeutel hört die Freundschaft auf.” It means “friendship stops at the wallet.” Be careful not to damage relationships just to get a car financed.