3 ways to help you get 0% APR on your next auto loan

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In a Nutshell

Where to look and what you need to help you qualify for 0% APR auto loans.
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Figuring out how to get 0% APR auto loans isn’t a total mystery. But to start, you should know what it can take to qualify for zero-interest car loans and where you can find them.

Lucky for you, we can show you how to find the answers to these two questions and help you get the zero-interest auto loan you’ve been looking for. Here are three ways that can help you qualify for 0% APR on your next car loan.

  1. Get your credit in shape
  2. Look to manufacturers for 0% APR auto loan offers
  3. Apply for the loan after you’ve negotiated your car price

1. Get your credit into shape

Before you head to a car dealership to try to get a 0% APR auto loan, you should check your credit reports and scores. Since your credit scores are calculated based on information in your credit reports, take a careful look at your reports to make sure everything is correct.

If something on your credit reports looks incorrect, you should dispute the error before you apply for your auto loan. It’s important to check your credit reports from all three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — because you don’t know which bureau (or bureaus) your lender will use.

After you’ve verified that everything on your credit reports is correct, take a look at your credit scores. The VantageScore 3.0 credit scores you get on Credit Karma from Equifax and TransUnion probably won’t be the credit scores your auto dealer uses. There are many different credit scores that different industries can use to help predict different things about your creditworthiness. But the scores you get from Credit Karma can be a good indicator of your overall credit health, even if they don’t match up exactly with whichever scores your auto lender uses.

While lenders don’t typically share what your credit scores should be in order to qualify for a 0% APR auto loan, credit scores of 700 and higher (on a scale of 300 to 850) are typically considered good. A score of 720 to 750 or higher may give you an even better shot at getting approved.

2. Look to manufacturers for 0% APR auto loan offers

Next up, you need to find the 0% APR auto loan offers you want to go after. These zero-interest car loans are often only offered by auto manufacturers, not banks or credit unions. So consider starting your research by looking for auto manufacturers offering 0% APR auto loans.

You can go straight to the manufacturers’ websites for this info — look for an incentives page for any current offers. You’ll most likely find that manufacturers offer no-interest loans on particular models and only under certain circumstances.

According to Lou Haverty, a chartered financial analyst with Financial Analyst Insider, one such circumstance could be when a manufacturer needs to reduce its inventory for a particular model.

3. Apply for the loan after you’ve negotiated your car price

Once you’ve found a 0% APR auto loan, you can still try to get the best deal possible on the car. One tip is to wait to tell the dealer that you’re looking for 0% APR until after you’ve negotiated the price of the car. If you tell the dealer you want 0% financing before you negotiate the price, you may not get the best price possible.

Is 0% APR worth it for car loans?

It is if you’re able to negotiate the best price for the car. If you have to pay a higher price to get a 0% APR loan, a low-interest-rate loan may be a better choice overall.

Bottom line

Even if you’re not able to secure a 0% APR auto loan on your first attempt, you still have options. Many lenders, including credit unions, banks and auto finance companies, offer low-interest-rate loans on cars that may not result in large interest payments. Shop around with a few competitive lenders to make sure you find the best overall deal for your situation.

About the author: Lance Cothern is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. His work has appeared on Business Insider, USA Today.com and his website, MoneyManifesto.com. Lance holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in … Read more.