Get Free Help Preparing Your Taxes From AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location


Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free
You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation
Happy African American couple

Contests and

AARP’s Superstar
2015 Contest

Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest!
See official rules.

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


My Two Cents

Get a Better Car Loan

How to get the best deal possible on your next car purchase

Liz Pulliam Weston

Liz Weston is author of Your Credit Score: Your Money and What's at Stake. — Art Streiber

En español | Dear Liz: We need a new car, and some dealers are offering really tempting interest rates — like 0.9 percent. Are these for real?

They might not be. Congress blew a chance to beef up consumer protections last summer when the embattled auto industry won an exemption from the new financial reform law. So although mortgage brokers will be subject to new rules, car dealers — who brokered about 80 percent of U.S. consumers' $850 billion in auto loans — may keep on gouging us. If you must borrow (it's better to pay cash for a depreciating asset), don't assume dealerships will give you the best loan. There are simply too many ways for them to rip you off (see "Dealers Disguise Profits," below) or seduce you with easy payments on a longer loan.

A better move is to get preapproved for a loan from a local bank or credit union before you set foot on the lot. That can help you set a realistic budget. You'd be wise to put down at least 20 percent, choose a loan of four years or less, and make sure the monthly payment is no more than 10 percent of your gross income. A big down payment helps ensure you'll never owe more on the car than it's worth. Limiting your loan also makes room for the costs of insurance, maintenance, and fuel.

If the dealership offers you better terms, you can always drop the bank loan. But you'll walk in knowing you have a deal that you can afford.

Dealers Disguise Profits: Duck These Fees

The Center for Responsible Lending says car buyers pay an extra $20 billion a year because dealers routinely mark up the interest rate of loans they broker. And dealers pad profits with such contract concoctions as preparation fees for cleaning your vehicle (which automakers often pay), advertising charges (if these show up at closing, balk), and even life insurance to pay off your loan should you die. As always: Buyer beware.

Liz Weston, author of Your Credit Score: Your Money and What's at Stake, blogs at

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.