Car loans can be expensive over the life of your vehicle if you do not plan ahead. High interest rates and long terms will add to the cost of your car over the years. It may be tempting to go straight to the dealer and test drive some vehicles when shopping for a car. Before doing this, consider becoming pre-approved for a loan. Shopping for a loan before shopping for a car will give you a better understanding of your buying power and the overall cost of your potential vehicle.
Pre-approval is a preliminary loan application. A potential lender will review your credit, your income, and possibly several other factors. They will then tell you how much they are willing to lend you, what the interest rate on the loan will be, how long you will be expected to make payments on the loan, and if any down payment will be required.
As the borrower, you do not have to commit to accepting the loan at that time. Banks, credit unions, and dealers offer pre-approval, so there are several financing options to choose from. Pre-approval allows you to shop at all these locations before committing to a loan.
With a good credit score and a large down payment, you may be pre-approved for a very large loan. While this may make it tempting to purchase a more expensive vehicle, be careful to not overextend yourself and exceed your monthly budget.
If you are not approved for a large enough loan, pre-approval allows you enough time to prepare to compensate for the difference. Consider a larger down payment, a cosigner, or a longer term loan to make your car loan offers more agreeable.
Pre-approval helps you know how much car you can purchase, how long it will take you to pay for that vehicle, and what the long-term costs of the loan will be. Car loans can be intimidating, but pre-approval may make the borrowing process easier to understand.