(This is a guest article by Bailey Harris*)
There are several good reasons to consider refinancing your auto loan. If interest rates have dropped or if you have improved your credit score since you originally got the loan, you may be able to get a better rate. There is also a chance of lowering your monthly payment.
Another reason to consider refinancing involves terms. If you don’t like the terms on your current loan–maybe you’re making payments for too many years or too few–you can probably get more preferable terms with a new loan.
How a Refinance Works
Getting an auto refinance loan is a lot like getting a traditional auto loan. You fill out a loan application, undergo a credit check, and get approved or denied for the money you need. You can try getting your current loan refinanced through your current lender. However, it is important to remember that your current lender may not have incentive to give you a good rate. Lower interest rates and better terms often mean less money in the bank’s pocket.
It makes more sense to get a rate quote from your current lender as well as several other lenders at the same time. This will allow you to compare interest rates and terms and easily determine who can give you the best deal.
Before getting approved for a refinance loan, you will need to fill out a loan application. Most lenders charge a fee for this, but it is almost always less than $25. You will not have to pay closing costs on the loan or other fees typically associated with a home refinance.
If you are approved for the loan and agree to the loan terms, your lender will see to it that your old loan is paid off and a new loan is set up.
Getting Ready to Refinance
Before applying for a refinance loan, it is a good idea to get your credit in order. This not only increases your chances of getting approved for the loan, it also helps you get a lower interest rate, which is what refinancing is all about.
If you currently have bad credit, it is important to know that you can’t fix your credit overnight. However, there are a few things that you can do to clean up your report and give your score a boost.
The first thing you will want to do is pull a copy of your credit report. You can get a free annual credit report each year through AnnualCreditReport.com, a centralized site created by the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Look for any errors or negatives that can be cleared up with a few phone calls or letters. These things are easy to take care of, but can seriously harm your credit. When that’s finished, look for negative items or bad debts that are currently in collection. Pay these debts off if at all possible. Some lenders will ask you to do this anyway before giving you a loan. If you cannot pay these items off, be prepared to dispute them or explain why they are there and why you haven’t taken care of them.
Some of the other things that you can do to give your credit a quick boost include paying off installment loans, paying off credits cards, and limiting credit card charges to 30% percent of each card’s limit. You may also want to try piggybacking off someone else’s good credit by getting your name on their card. Every time they use the card and pay it off responsibly, your credit will get a boost.
One final thing to keep in mind is that having multiple credit inquiries can damage your credit score if they are not made within a specific time frame. When shopping for an auto refinance loan, make sure that the lenders all check your credit within a two week period. This will allow the multiple inquiries to be processed as a single hard inquiry, which is much less damaging to your credit score.
More Auto Refinancing Tips
An auto refinance is almost always worth exploring. However, you should be careful to do the math to make sure that refinancing is the right thing to do. You can almost certainly get a lower payment by lengthening the term of your loan, but this could leave you paying more interest than necessary. If lowering your payments is the only way that you can afford the vehicle, this scenario may make sense. The key is to evaluate your individual situation and then go from there.
You should also be careful to read all of the fine print and know what you are getting from the loan. Specific things to ask the lender about include the interest rate, the length of the loan, and minimum monthly payments. You may also want to make sure that there are no prepayment penalties attached to the loan so that you have the option of paying the loan off early or refinancing later on without problems.
*About the author: This is a guest post from Bailey Harris.