Buying a car is probably one of the least fun things that comes with adulting. Of course, the end result of all the hassle is a new (or new to you!) car. As great as that part is, I want to talk about the hassle you go through before that.
I got my car around five years ago and actually just finished paying it off! YAY! I went a pretty traditional route — went to a couple dealerships, did a couple test drives, and walked away with a 5-year loan on a car about $5K more than I wanted to spend. You know, the usual.
Actually, I only recently found out that you don’t have to go through this process the way I did. People’s Trust Federal Credit Union actually has pretty great solution. The Houston-based credit union has served the Bayou City since 1935 (!!) and works differently than most financial institutions. It’s a not-for-profit organization and membership based (your money in makes you a member).
Heads up! This post is sponsored by People’s Trust, but all opinions are my own!
1. There are better times to buy.
Did you know there are better months to buy a new car? March is a good time to buy a car because it’s the end of the quarter and dealerships are trying to meet incentive quotas. (So, September and June are good too, and December is usually the best options for savings.)
During the week, most people buy cars on the weekend, so if you’re able to go earlier in the week, you also might be able to score some savings.
2. Do your research before you go.
Do your research on what kind of car you want. Ask your friends, do online research and narrow it down to a few makes/models before going in. Figure out how much you can afford — and set your budget. (I know, easier said than done.)
You can use People’s Trust’s Auto Loan Calculator to estimate the monthly payment based on a known purchase price or to find a purchase price based on how much you want the monthly payment to be.
3. You can negotiate — but you need to be smart about it.
So you have your dream car picked out. You know how much you can afford. Now it’s time for the talk. You know the talk — the price tag. A lot of people think they can out-negotiate dealerships, but most people only buy a car every few years and dealerships negotiate deals every day.
The best way to negotiate is over email where emotions stay out of the equation. Dealerships will oftentimes offer a low rate, knowing they will make up for it in some of the add-ons they will tack on in the finance office.
4. The paperwork is a major time suck.
The average person spends five and a half hours at the dealership when they buy a car, most of that time doing paperwork with the finance manager.
Once you do all this — pick out the car and pick out your price for the car, you’re not even done yet. What if you could spend less than an hour at the dealership… take care of the financing before you even go to the dealership? You can, with People’s Trust and their Express Check.
5. People’s Trust can make to process sooooo much easier.
You can get pre-approved at People’s Trust and get one of their Express Checks, which is essentially a blank check, good up to the amount you’re pre-approved for, that you can use to pay for your new vehicle.
When the dealership cashes the check, it converts your auto pre-approval into an auto loan with People’s Trust. All the loan paperwork is done online before you get your Express Check so that once you have it, you can concentrate on getting the best deal on the car you want.
If you’re interested, People’s Trust has several online resources for you.
- Download the People’s Trust buyer’s guide that walks you step by step on how to negotiate the best deal.
- You can fill out the Auto Loan Express Check Application in just a few steps.
- There’s also the Member Auto Center (great place to search cars in the area and find credit union friendly sales people).
People’s Trust is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. Membership eligibility requirements apply. Loans subject to creditworthiness.
I find that the best strategy especially for used cars is go to the dealership with a car you have in mind and bring a link to the same vehicle they have that is much cheaper. If you can hustle the price down so that they get the sale instead of someone else, they will give you that deal. I’ve done this 4 times now and it works really well. Antonio