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Auto Loan Calculator

Dec 05, 2023

Use this auto loan calculator when comparing available rates to estimate what your car loan will really cost, minus additional fees that lenders may enforce. Simply enter the amount you wish to borrow, the length of your intended loan, vehicle type and interest rate. The calculator will estimate your monthly payment to help you determine how much car you can afford.  

Auto Loan Questions

When is the best time to buy a car?

In general, the right time to buy a car is a weekday — you’ll get a better deal than on a weekend. And don’t forget to shop holiday sales, especially late in the year. Dealerships start to get their next model year inventory in the fall, so you may be able to score a deal on the current model year if you’re looking for a new car. 

Should I buy new or used?

Buying a new car means a fresh car smell and the newest features. But they have a higher price tag, higher rate of depreciation and more expensive insurance. A used car often comes with a lower purchase price and lower rate of depreciation, but you won’t know how the car was driven or maintained. Use a new vs. used car calculator to compare the benefits and drawbacks of both new and used cars.

How can I get the best deal on vehicle financing?

Driving off with the best auto loan deal comes down to preparation. Shop around and compare at least three loan options, including financing from the dealer, banks, credit unions and online lenders. Pay close attention to interest rates, terms and fees offered by each lender. 

Are auto loan rebates a good idea?

With an auto loan rebate, you can receive hundreds or thousands of dollars off the purchase price of your car. The value of the rebate is typically applied to the down payment, reducing the total amount of your car loan, or to closing costs. Rebate availability varies by the dealer and may only apply to select makes, models or trim packages. They could be a good idea if they are available for a vehicle you are already interested in. 

What is auto loan interest?

Auto loan interest is the cost incurred to borrow money to finance your car. It is the price lenders charge that allows you to pay for the car over time. Your monthly payment includes a portion of the amount of money you borrowed plus a portion that pays the interest that continues to grow while you’re repaying it. 
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Auto Loan Tips

Prepare for additional costs

Unfortunately, the final price you pay will be higher than the sticker that you see on the car window. You must factor in expenses such as taxes, title fees and even future vehicle maintenance when calculating vehicle cost. 

A longer-term loan might not be worth it

Loan repayment terms can range from 24 to 84 months. While a longer loan term will mean a lower monthly cost, you will pay more in interest. Also, consider that a longer term means that you could be stuck with that vehicle for up to seven years.

Consider refinancing your current car loan

Refinancing your current loan can be a great option to save money while keeping your vehicle. Consider this option if you first signed off at a dealership or if you have improved credit and can likely receive a better rate and term. 

Save for a down payment

To reduce the total amount you have to finance, have a down payment saved up. Experts recommend 20 percent, but you may be able to buy a car with a down payment of just 10 percent. The less you need to borrow, the more you will be able to save on interest.

Buying vs. leasing 

Determining if you want to buy or lease your new car requires consideration of the number of miles you plan to clock on the vehicle odometer as well as how much you can afford each month.  

What leasing is 

When you lease a car, you have the right to use the vehicle but do not have full ownership. Think of it as borrowing the car for a set amount of time, usually three or four years, but not holding complete rights to the car. There will be specific restrictions in terms of use. With a lease, you will be restricted to a certain number of miles driven and the expectation to return the vehicle in mint condition — or incur fees.  

You likely will find leasing options through dealerships, which can be a great option if you have your sights set on a specific model. Leasing is worth exploring if you are interested in driving more expensive vehicles every few years rather than keeping one car for the long term. Leasing also has incentives, such as the ability to drive a higher-end vehicle, cash rebates, manufacture warranty and subsidized residual values.

How to decide between buying and leasing 

Before you drive a car off the lot, you need to decide if you should lease or buy it. Consider three main factors: the number of miles you drive annually, the purpose of the vehicle and how much you can afford to spend monthly. Buying may be best if you want full ownership of the vehicle and can afford a higher monthly cost. Leasing may be the right choice if you appreciate the flexibility in vehicle types and can stick to the mileage restriction.

Just as with buying a vehicle, when you lease, you will have a monthly payment over the life of your contract. But when you buy, there is light at the end of the tunnel and eventually you won’t have to make any further payments. When you lease, unless you plan for a lease buyout, you will have a continuous car payment without achieving ownership of the car.

Use a lease vs. buy calculator before going to the dealership to better understand each option’s financial implications.