Guide to Safely Buying a Car Online
Shopping for a car used to be a tedious activity. People would roll out of bed in the morning and drag themselves into the old, rickety cars they were trying to replace. Crawling through hours of traffic, from one car dealer to the next, was a nightmare!
Well, not anymore. Now you can compare cars and vehicle shops online, all from the comfort of your couch! You just need to know how to go about it wisely. Read below for our guide on how to safely buy a car online.
This is not the fun part of car shopping! Nobody likes the idea of figuring out if they can afford something if only money grew on trees. But since it doesn’t, you do have to consider your budget.
Paying Cash Upfront: If you can afford to, it’s better to pay for a car upfront, without a loan. But even if you can afford to pay cash, you have to work out whether parting with a large sum all at once is wise. You may need disposable income for other things in your life.
Also, you should factor the total costs of having a car on the road. So, in addition to the sale price, also consider insurance, fuel, maintenance, and parking. It’s also a good idea to research your trade-in or sale price if you’re going to trade in your existing car or sell it off.
Getting a Loan: Applying for a car loan is the common way to pay for a car. The critical thing is to determine how much you can afford to pay in monthly premiums. You also need to consider the long-term affordability of the total cost of the loan.
You have the option of a bank or credit union for your loan. Make sure you do your homework and shop around for credit providers. This way you get the best loan terms. Also, you can use a secured loan to negotiate a loan deal with the dealerships. Use an online loan calculator to determine the loan affordability.
If you’re still wondering if you’re better off shopping online, here is a quick summary of the differences between online and offline car shopping.
- You’re not able to do quick, efficient, and wide-ranging comparisons.
- There are limited options, compelling you to make a constrained choice.
- The entire process can be taxing and time-consuming.
- You spend a lot of time and mileage moving from one dealer to the next.
- There is close contact with people in potentially crowded showrooms.
You’re able to compare cars in real-time.
You have access to more brands in one place.
It’s a zero contact, touch-free interaction.
Online shopping is hassle-free.
Digital showrooms provide an interactive but convenient experience.
You get to see more options in price, style, and colors.
You may not like to assess your budget, but getting a good deal can make you feel better. We all love a good bargain. Here are a few tips on checking out car deals:
- Check to see if a dealer has surplus stock. If in the previous year a car doesn’t sell as much, you could get a lower price for it. Other cars could be reaching the end of their product cycles. This may mean a bargain price for you.
- There are quite a few factory-to-dealer incentives based on particular geographic areas. Sometimes searching according to your zip code may bring up location-specific deals.
- There may be incentives available for veterans, graduates, first responders, etc. It is worthwhile searching for these if you think you fall into a special category.
- You can potentially save thousands in subsidized lease deals, low-interest financing offers, and cashback deals. These can apply to both new vehicles and certified pre-owned cars.
If you want to trade-in your car, you need to do your research. Working out the trade-in value of your car is not always straightforward. It all depends on the market value of that particular car.
Unless your car is in excellent condition, it’s really hard to work out its market value. If you are one of the lucky few with a car in pristine condition, then the trade-in value is just slightly less than its book value.
The book value is a price for the make and model of a particular vehicle from the largest automotive valuation company in the U.S. There you will find a list of appraised cars that have been assigned market values.
If you want to get the best trade-in value for your car, you must make sure it’s in the best condition possible. This can save you good money and help pay for your new car. Trade-ins can also lower your monthly loan payments.
There is a small risk of making payments online. This is true for anything, let alone a car. But you can lower this risk. You simply need to choose the best payment method for your situation. You can choose to pay by credit card, debit card, or through 3rd party gateways.
If you choose to pay by credit you have the backing of the Fair Credit Billing Act. It limits your liability to $50 in the event of mistakes or fraudulent charges. If you report a card lost or stolen, or if only the numbers are stolen, then you will have zero liability. In any case, many credit card providers have fraud protection and other security features.
Debit cards pull funds from your checking account directly. This means that thieves steal your very own money. Despite this, debit cards have comparable protections as credit cards. Also, banks typically reimburse you where fraud is involved.
PayPal is one of the most popular 3rd party payment gateways. Another one is Google Pay. These are very good options for making secure payments online. You don’t provide any credit card or bank account information when you shop. This provides an added layer of safety.
When it comes down to it, buying a car online or offline is a matter of personal preference. However, if you do shop offline, use the internet as a research tool before visiting a dealership. This way you get the best of both worlds. You’ll be armed with knowledge and enjoy the benefits of offline car buying at the same time.