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Five Golden Steps for Auto Buying

The best way to put you in the driver's seat of a new car is to research the model you're looking for and how you'll pay for it before you even set foot on a car lot.

Step One

Check your credit score. Your credit score influences your interest rate, so a higher score means a better loan package. Make an appointment with your credit union for a quick check-up. Everyone is eligible to use for a free credit report of all three reporting agencies once per year. This is the only truly free service with no strings attached. If you have a few dings on your report, our financial services representatives can offer advice on ways to clear them up.

Step Two

Check for the best rate and see what you can afford. Credit unions are known for having some of the best rates around and Northern Colorado Credit Union is no exception. In fact, we usually have the lowest rate in the market—check out our current rate schedules. Calculate your payment and find out how much you can afford with our financial calculator. Here's another tip: You will often save more money by financing a new car with a credit union and taking a dealer's rebate, as opposed to taking a dealer's low finance rate. Check out this rate vs. rebate calculator.

Step Three

Get pre-approved before hitting the car lot. While you're checking up on your credit score, get pre-approved for a car loan. You can do this in-person, on the phone, or online. Pre-approval will help you determine how much car you can buy, how much your monthly payment will be, and it will make the buying process quicker and easier. Use our Online Application and get pre-approved right away.

Step Four

Research. Research car models and compare prices before hitting the lot by visiting our AutoSmart Resource Center and the NADA website. Keep in mind car costs don't stop with the monthly loan payment. According to AAA, an SUV costs 67 cents a mile to drive compared to 41 cents for a typical small sedan when you factor in such costs as insurance, repairs, and depreciation. Before you head to the dealership, compare the five-year "true cost to own" of any vehicle model.

Step Five

Visit the dealer. Once you've secured financing and have a good idea of what car(s) you can afford, visit the dealer. Bring the car values you researched with you and compare them to dealer sticker prices. This information will give you leverage to negotiate when purchasing the vehicle that's right for you.

Even if you haven't gotten pre-approved, always ask for credit union financing at the dealership.