The availability and pricing of new cars can fluctuate. For example, a global semiconductor shortage starting in 2020 slowed the production of certain new car inventory, causing used car sales to soar. Despite this potential roadblock, you can still find a year-end deal on a new or used vehicle if you do your homework.
Is the Price Right?
By using online resources, it's easy to compare vehicles, settle on the car you like, add in all the options you want, see what others have paid for it, and find dealerships with new car inventory that will match those prices.
Websites such as TrueCar.com, Edmunds.com, Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book offer up-to-date information so you can find and price your vehicle.1 Use our Auto Loan Calculator to determine your monthly payments.
Find the Best Car Rebates and Incentives
If you've selected a model and figured out what you hope to pay, next search for rebates and special incentives. Today's car sites aggregate all this information for you. Most experts suggest if you plan to purchase a car, negotiate the sales price first, and then discuss the rebate, so you will get a true discount on your vehicle.
You also may be eligible for rebates in the form of federal tax credits, depending on the vehicle you decide to purchase. Here is a list of electric and hybrid vehicles that are eligible for rebates.1
If you're a qualified buyer, you may be able to get special financing terms with no or low-interest rates, but keep your options open. If you are prequalified for an auto loan, you have negotiating power. For instance, SchoolsFirst FCU offer loans with Auto Convenience Checks, so you can shop like a cash buyer.2 You don't have to rely on a dealer's financing options, if it isn't competitive enough. You can also take advantage of our FastTrack program, which lets you apply for SchoolsFirst FCU financing in more than 500 California dealerships.
Zero percent financing deals can be enticing, but come with certain restrictions. For instance, if the dealer is working with an outside lender to fund loans, the vehicle's price may actually be higher than other dealerships. You'll also need an excellent credit score and may be required to pay off the loan in a shorter period of time, which means your monthly payments will be higher.
Leasing Versus Buying
With more incentives crowding the marketplace, car leases are popular again because they usually come with lower down payments and monthly payments. Many financial experts think that leasing can be a financial drain, because after the lease is up, you don't own the car. However, if you trade in a car every few years, or don't drive that much, it's something to consider. But just like buying a new car, it's all about reading the fine print.
Don't Want the Hassle? Skip the Negotiations
If you don't relish negotiating your deal, SchoolsFirst FCU offers car-buying services that do the legwork for you.2
- Autoland:: A consultant help you find and finance your car and even delivers it to your closest branch.
- Car Buying Service, powered by True Car: Shop online, see what others have paid for the car you're shopping for and enjoy negotiation-free guaranteed savings on new cars as well as used car discounts. Offers are available exclusively for Members not available through TrueCar's website.
- Enterprise Car Sales: Get a no-haggle price on used cars. An ASE-Certified Technician rigorously inspects each car.
- FastTrack Auto Dealers: Choose your car from a network of more than 500 CUDL-affiliated dealerships where you can apply for SchoolsFirst FCU immediate financing onsite.