Do You Need a Co-signer for Your Auto Loan?

If you don’t have enough income or good enough credit, you may need a co-signer

As with any type of loan, your income and credit history will be major determinants of whether you are approved for an auto loan application. If you’ve been denied for an auto loan, you may want to consider using a co-signer.

Understanding how a lender determines loan approval
According to a January 2016 article in The Balance by author of “The Everything Improve Your Credit Book” Justin Pritchard, the lending company or financial institution must have reason to believe you will pay back the loan in order for you to be deemed worthy to receive the auto loan. A financial institution looks at two factors to determine whether you are credible: your credit score and your income.

Your credit history is a true indicator of how well you repay your loans; if you’ve borrowed money through loans previously and have successfully paid them off, or are making on-time payments, the lender will be more likely to believe you are a safe bet and will approve your loan application. On the other hand, if you have a poor credit score from defaulting on loan repayments, or don’t have any borrowing history, the financial institution may not want to approve you for a loan, explains Pritchard. To the financial institution, such a person is a bad investment, as the likelihood of the financial institution being repaid decreases.

Lenders also consider the income of the individual in deciding on a loan application, says Pritchard. In fact, the financial institution often calculates a debt to income ratio to determine if you make enough income to cover the expense of the loan payment each month.

Larger vehicles are generally more expensive than smaller ones, but smaller cars can also be more costly depending on the make and the engine build. The price of the vehicle and its calculated monthly payments under a loan in comparison to your monthly income will determine whether you have a low enough debt to income ratio to afford the monthly payments.

When to bring in a co-signer on your auto loan
If you have poor or no credit history, or your debt to income ratio is deemed too high by the lender, you will likely not be approved for a loan. In essence, the financial institution has determined you are too risky and will likely struggle to repay the loan, so it is unwilling to work with you.

A co-signer can help you meet the income and credit score requirements of the financial institution, as the financial institution considers the added income and credit history of the co-signer to the loan terms, explains Pritchard.

“Co-signing happens when somebody promises to pay a loan for somebody else. This happens when a [financial institution] won’t approve a loan (or it won’t approve the original application, but it’s willing to lend if a co-signer is involved),” says Pritchard in an October 2016 article in The Balance.

To the financial institution, the co-signer acts as a backup plan to collect payment if you default on the loan repayment. And if the co-signer has good credit history, the financial institution knows that at least one person on the loan has experience borrowing and repaying loans on time, adds Pritchard.

“The co-signer (who presumably has strong credit and income) promises to ensure that the loan gets repaid by signing the loan agreement with you. In other words, the cosigner takes full responsibility for the debt — if you don’t pay off the loan, your co-signer will have to do it.

“As a borrower,” Pritchard explains, “you need to have sufficient income and good credit to qualify for a loan. Using a co-signer therefore boosts your appeal as a borrower to the financial institution if you can’t meet the loan application requirements on your own.”

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Vehicle Details: Top Vehicles That Are Affordable and Cool

A cool ride doesn’t need to break the bank

There are so many choices if you’re looking for a new vehicle that it can be difficult to know where to start. But if your priorities are on coolness and affordability, here are some great options.

Kia Soul – The Soul is frequently awarded for its value and coolness, and the new 2017 model starts at an MSRP of $15,990 while delivering the same charm that has won over many buyers. The Soul continues to find ways to improve, with the newest model adding a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 201 hp and 195 lb/ft of torque through a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, and estimated fuel ratings up to 26 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The Soul is easily spotted in a crowd thanks to its unique design, and some of its impressive features include the UVO infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen display, navigation, and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity. You can also add a Harman Kardon audio system, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and plenty of advanced safety features like the Blind Spot Detection System, Lane Departure Warning System, Forward Collision Warning System and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert.

Consumer Guide summarizes it nicely: “The competitively priced Soul is a very compelling mix of personality and practicality.”

Honda Fit – Named to Kelley2017_fit_yellow Blue Book’s KBB.com’s “10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000,” and currently ranked as the No. 1 subcompact and hatchback by U.S. News & World Report, the Fit has plenty to love. All Fit models have a 130 hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that gets up to 37 mpg highway, but the versatility of the Fit is arguably its biggest strength. A maximum cargo capacity of 52.7 cubic feet is more expected from a small SUV, and clever features like the second row Magic Seat allow buyers to haul larger items. There are also plenty of standard features including Bluetooth wireless connectivity, a multi-angle rearview camera and a five-inch color LCD touchscreen.

Edmunds adds, “If there’s one thing this Honda is known for, after all, it’s the incredible amount of stuff you can fit inside its pint-sized hatchback body. Today’s Fit also has more rear legroom than ever, and it’s got a respectable roster of standard and optional technology too.”

Chevrolet Sonic – Also named tofebruaryfeatured_coolcars Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com’s “10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000,” the 2017 Sonic is an affordable compact that offers excellent value (a starting MSRP of $15,145), two engines (a 1.8-liter four-cylinder and a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder) and plenty of technology, including a new Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system bundled with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot. Safety is provided by 10 standard airbags and you can also add Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning and the new Rear Park Assist.

Autotrader says, “If you’re in the market for an affordable pint-sized champ that won’t make you feel second class for driving it, the Chevrolet Sonic may have your number.”

Other vehicles to consider include the Toyota Yaris iA, Honda Civic, MAZDA3 sedan and hatchback, Nissan Versa Note, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Rio.

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Questions You Should Ask the Dealer When Car Shopping

Five answers to know before you sign on the dotted line

No matter whetherfebruaryfeatured_dealerquesitons you are shopping for a new or used vehicle, there are certain questions you will always want to know the answers to. The answers the dealer provides will tell you whether you are getting the most car for your money.

What are the additional fees?
Legitimate costs include sales tax, registry costs and a documentation fee. However, the amount dealers charge for filling out the contract (the doc fee) is not universal. According to the trusted automotive resource Edmunds.com, some states regulate these fees and cap them below $100, so before you seal any deals, check the paperwork and negotiate down an outrageous doc fee. Another questionable fee you may encounter, in an effort for the dealer to build a potential profit back into the deal, is a “vehicle preparation fee.” This means, for example, they are charging you for making sure there is oil in the vehicle and for performing other menial tasks that one would expect to be done inevitably before a car is rolled off the lot.

Are there any aftermarket parts on the vehicle?
Inclusion of “add-ons”-from things as simple as tinted windows to things as complicated as car alarms-is another way dealers attempt to boost profits by raising prices.

“Mud flaps, rust-proofing and paint sealants make the dealer a lot of money, but you can get them for less-often much less-elsewhere,” writes David Muhlbaum, online editor of Kiplinger.com

Before saying yes to a vehicle purchase, you will want to double-check with the dealer and in the contract, and negotiate accordingly.

What special promotions are you running right now?
Manufacturers are always running sales events, and sometimes dealerships even tack on their own discounts and deals. Investigate up front what promos are going on so you can take a closer look at the vehicles with the best incentives.

“If you’re diligent-and a little bit lucky-you can use one of these events to knock a few thousand dollars off of your total cost or secure 0 percent APR financing for the first year or so of your loan,” says Business Insider personal finance writer Ben DeMeter in an article on Investopedia.

What is the lowest price you can give me?
Instead of telling the auto dealer the highest price you can afford to pay each month, take the reins by figuring out the lowest possible price you would pay on the vehicle in question. While it is smart to go into negotiations with financing options already lined up, the dealer may be able to offer you lower financing, so don’t show your cards too soon.

Can I see an accident history report and title history?
Most dealers these days automatically provide a CARFAX report for all vehicles, as well as an AutoCheck report to be thorough. These documents also report title history, which will disclose any previous problems with the vehicle such as odometer issues, a rebuilt engine or whether it was ever reported stolen. If you choose to proceed without checking one or both of these reports, or something like them, you are putting yourself at risk for a large devaluation of the vehicle.

Once you ask these questions and are satisfied with the responses provided, you can feel comfortable signing on the dotted line as an informed consumer.

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Understanding Lease Terminology

Motor vehicle financing terms to know before going to the dealership

Before steppingleaseterms_featured into a dealership to lease a car, it’s important to understand lease terminology to make sure you get the best deal possible and aren’t taken advantage of by a dealer.

Understanding the basics
Cars are often advertised with much lower payments for leases than for purchases. According to a February 2012 article from J.D. Power and Associates contributed by Jeff Youngs, this is because lease payments are based on the depreciation value of the vehicle during the contracted term of operation.

There are, however, additional terms and fees on top of the monthly lease payment. Some—like mileage allowance, purchasing options after the lease term ends and depreciation of the vehicle—are widely known, while others are not.

The following are those you should know that might fall in the latter category:

Acquisition/termination fee
Also known as the bank fee, this covers administration costs and is paid either at the beginning of the lease (acquisition) or at the end (termination), according to Youngs.

Capitalized cost
This is the negotiated total cost of the vehicle. “When leasing a model that is in high demand and low supply, the capitalized cost may be the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or higher,” Youngs said in an April 2013 article from J.D. Power and Associates.

Capitalized reduction payment
Also known as the cap-reduction payment, this is the down payment made on a lease term to help reduce the monthly payment amounts. It is nonrefundable, Youngs said.

Destination charge
This is the nonrefundable cost for the vehicle to be delivered to the dealership.

Drive-off fee
This is the total amount due at signing. Just as when purchasing a car, there will be title fees, registration fees and sales tax to account for, though leased vehicles incur sales tax on monthly payments only, said Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver magazine senior editor, in a February 2015 article.

Money factor
Also known as the finance factor or finance charge, this number is used to calculate your interest rate by multiplying the money factor by 2,400, Young said. For example, a money factor of .00350 would be an 8.4 percent interest rate.

Rent charge
“This is the amount of the lease payment that comes from interest charges,” Quiroga explained. “To calculate the rent charge, add the adjusted cap cost to the depreciation and multiply by the finance factor,” and then multiply by the total number of months in the lease term.

Residual value
According to Youngs, this is the “predicted value of the vehicle at the end of the lease.” Quiroga pointed out that with residual value, “the less it’s worth, the higher the lease payments.”

Subsidized lease
“Many advertised lease deals are subsidized leases, meaning that the auto manufacturer determines, in advance, the financial variables used to calculate the lease payment and takes on a certain degree of risk in order to create an attractive or class-competitive payment,” Youngs warned. He added that subsidized lease terms are nonnegotiable and often require a cap-reduction payment.

Additional lease information
There are a few other details to note in regard to leasing, depending on the vehicle you choose and any additional services you purchase.

Gap insurance is often included in lease terms as an additional fee. According to Youngs, this automotive insurance helps meet the gap between your insurer’s paid amount and the total residual value due to the leasing company in the even that your vehicle is stolen or damaged beyond repair.

A service contract is also offered as part of a lease contract, in which the consumer agrees to pay a discounted price up front to the dealership to have the vehicle serviced by the dealership for all of its future repair and maintenance needs.

“Before buying a service contract, make sure the brand of vehicle selected does not offer free scheduled maintenance for a limited time,” Youngs said.

Finally, it’s important to note that your base monthly payment is not the total amount you have to pay each month within a lease. The base monthly payment is simply the depreciation value plus the rent charged, divided by the number of months in the lease term. Your total monthly payment—what you actually pay each month—is the base payment plus tax.

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How Much Should You Spend on a Car Based on Your Income?

Using your income as a base so you don’t overextend yourself

Buying a car is oftencarpricevsincome_featured one of the largest expenses an individual will incur, and most will finance such a purchase. It’s crucial to plan ahead so you don’t inadvertently buy a vehicle that you can’t afford.

“Because financing a car means committing to a monthly loan payment for a period of time, your monthly budget plays the biggest role in deciding how much to spend on a car,” explained Managing Editor Jamie Page Deaton in a July 2015 article in U.S. News.

Using your net income as a basis
Before you even start the car shopping process, you should know how much you can afford to spend each month. Then you’ll be able to narrow down your vehicle search to those that fit within your budget.

Start by getting out a piece of paper and writing down your monthly income.

“To calculate how much you have available to spend on your car payments, first take into account your essential monthly expenses. These can include mortgage or rent, utilities, phone, food and entertainment, savings, and other expenses,” reported an August 2014 CarFax article in its CarFox blog.

“The total from this [deducted calculation], your disposable income, is the amount you have left to cover the cost of your new car.” Note that this estimated number is meant to cover all car expenses including gas, insurance and maintenance, and not just the monthly payment for the car.

Calculations: example 1
CarFax suggested you spend 10 to 20 percent of your monthly disposable income on a car payment and expenses. As an example, CarFax shares calculations for an individual with a monthly income of $4,000.

“If your gross pay is $4,000 a month and you spend $2,165 on essentials like mortgage, food and utilities, your disposable income is $1,835 a month. Spending 10 percent of your disposable income would mean a $184 car payment. Twenty percent of this would give you a car payment of $368.”

Calculations: example 2
Deaton suggested a calculation model for spending ability at no more than 15 percent of your net monthly pay, as long as you don’t have major debt other than a mortgage.

As an example, Deaton posited that someone who makes $50,000 per year will likely take home an annual net income of $44,180 after taxes. He noted in a July 2015 article in U.S. News & World Report that other expenses, like health insurance and retirement saving, will likely lower this net amount and offered a monthly estimate of $3,681 in net pay for this example.

At 15 percent, this person should be able to afford, at most, $552 per month for all car-related expenses (not just the car payment). Taking into consideration the median U.S. insurance rate at $100 per month, and assuming this person spends $125 per month on gas and saves or uses $50 per month for repairs and maintenance; this hypothetical person will have $277 left over each month for a car payment.

“Plug this number into a car affordability calculator with a $2,000 down payment, 4 percent sales tax and a car loan lasting five years with no interest, and a car costing just under $18,000 makes financial sense for this person. Of course, this person may not qualify for a no-interest loan, and shortening the loan term will increase the payment. [He or she] could also lower the monthly payment by having a larger down payment,” noted Deaton.

If you do have more debt, such as from credit cards and student loans, Deaton advised you look at your total monthly debt as a whole in determining how much you can afford for a car. You’ll want to spend less than 36 percent of your monthly net income on your total monthly debt.

If you need more help calculating what you can afford, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

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Tips for Getting the Best Auto Loan

Doing your homework before walking into a dealership can help you save

You’ve decided to buy a carbestcarloan_featured — whether new or used — and all you keep thinking about is how exciting it will be to drive home with a new toy. While car buying can be fun, doing your research before you walk into the dealership can help you save money. Consider these tips when planning your new purchase.

According to a September 2014 article on NBC’s “Today” show’s website by consumer expert Herb Weisbaum, before walking into the dealership, you should know your credit scores from the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

“You want to check all three because you don’t know which one the lender will use and you want to give yourself time to fix any mistakes,” says Director of Consumer Education for Credit.com Gerri Detweiler. “I found a mistake when I went to buy a car a few years ago, and if I hadn’t straightened it out, it would have cost me a lot of money.”

You can use AnnualCreditReport.com, set up by the federal government, or free credit sites like CreditKarma.com or Credit.com.

Shop around first
Don’t make the mistake of walking into a dealership without first checking out auto loans from other financers, including local financial institutions. You can even get preapproved for a loan, so you know what your best possible rate is going in.

“A lot of people just assume they’re getting the best rate and terms from the dealer, and that’s the last assumption you should make,” says Liz Weston, author of the book “Deal with Your Debt.” Shopping around for an interest rate can also protect you from hidden dealership fees.

“Dealers are legally allowed to add to your interest rate in order to compensate themselves … in effect, hiding the size of their profit from the buyer. The only way you’re going to know if you’re getting the best rate out there is if you’ve gotten quotes from other lenders,” reports a June 2012 article in Time magazine by writer and editor Martha C. White. The Time article also warns consumers about dealers who offer to pay off the loan on your trade-in vehicle. In some cases, the dealership will pay it off but then add and hide the loan cost in your new loan.

Choose the shortest loan term you can afford
Those 60- and 72-month loans may look great in the dealership with their low monthly payments, but you’ll end up paying more in the long run with extended months of interest.

“Try to limit your car loan to about 48 months. That’s the optimal amount of time you should pay for your car,” says Automotive Content Specialist Mike Quincy with Consumer Reports Autos.

Make a down payment
Don’t be fooled by the signs and flyers at your local dealership promising low monthly payments with zero dollars down; very few people end up qualifying for these deals. If you can afford to, make a down payment on your purchase to save money in the long run.

“Having a down payment will help you qualify for a loan and may help you obtain a lower interest rate. Lenders tend to look favorably upon borrowers prepared to make a down payment because it makes default on the loan less likely,” reports Experian, global leader in consumer and business credit reporting, in its FAQ section.

Buy add-ons separately
Would your car look cooler with a nice set of chrome rims or a leather interior instead of fabric? Most likely, but adding these upgrades to your auto loan will only increase your monthly payments and possibly your interest rate.

“About 50 percent of a dealer’s profits come from the finance office,” says Chris Kukla, senior counsel for government affairs at the Center for Responsible Lending, in a June 2012 article for Time. As a result, car salespeople will upsell their add-on services because they’re looking to increase their profit, not help you with your costs.

Purchasing add-ons after your loan is finalized will also allow you to better evaluate the need versus cost for each, helping you save money and purchase only those services that fit within your budget.

If you have additional questions on how to get the best auto loan, contact us and one of our representatives will be happy to help.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Questions to Ask Before Leasing a Car

10 answers you need before signing for a lease

For some, leasing a vehicle isCarLease_070516 a better option than buying. Before deciding to go forward with a lease, consider looking into the following topics.

Before choosing a vehicle…

Lease specials:
According to Edmunds.com’s Director of Remarketing Joe Spina, automakers often offer highly discounted lease specials on slow-selling models in order to try to boost interest. When you walk into the dealership, make sure to ask the salesperson about any of these possible offers. However, the quote given will not always be the final price. See below for more information.

Once you have a specific vehicle in mind…
Fees:
The first thing you will want to ask after expressing interest in the lease specials is what the vehicle’s “drive-off” fee is. Drive-off fees are a combination of the down payment and additional fees. Of course, you want to pay as little as possible upfront; however, that means a higher monthly payment. Other fees include acquisition and disposition fees, which unfortunately cannot be negotiated, but the security deposit can be waived. No matter the fee, it never hurts to question the dealer.

Down payment:
Bankrate.com states that your down payment can consist of many things, and as mentioned above, some may be negotiable.

“It can be made up of payments [for such things as] the security deposit, title fees, capitalized cost reduction, monthly payments paid at signing and registration fees,” the website explains.

Interest rate:
Another negotiable aspect is what people in the industry call the “money factor.”

“The dealer converts the interest rate into a mysterious-looking decimal number. To convert the money factor back into an interest rate, multiply by 2,400. So if the money factor is 0.00125, multiply it by 2,400 to get 3 percent,” explains Senior Consumer Advice Editor of Edmunds.com Philip Reed.

Always ensure your money factor/interest rate is parallel to what you deserve for your corresponding credit score.

Residual value:
This is the amount the car will be worth at the end of the lease. You will want one that holds its value — that is, it has a high residual value. The figure is an estimate set by the leasing company, and you can always ask the dealer what it is.

Lease term:
Most terms are 24, 36, 48 or 60 months, but there are odd terms put out there designed to confuse you.

“A 39-month lease based on the 36-month residual value of the car will give you lower payments, but you’ll pay more overall,” offers Reed as an example. “And you might be driving for three months without a factory warranty, so a major breakdown could cost you big-time in repairs.”

Miles included:
The industry standard for a lease is 12,000 per year. So if you hear of a deal that sounds great but includes only 10,000 miles, it is obviously too good to be true.

Gap insurance:
You will definitely want to know this cost in the event of an accident — or any damage at all, including a mileage overage — before you return the lease vehicle.

“This insurance will pay the difference between what you owe on your leased vehicle and what it is worth if it is wrecked or stolen. You can get it with the lease or ask your insurance company,” Bankrate.com states.

Regarding the lease’s end…

Lease transfer:
Given today’s consumerism, flexibility is key, which is why car shoppers want to be able to change vehicles more often, even when under a lease contract. You may want to ask ahead of time if you will be able to transfer the lease to another person for the remainder of the term. Some dealers may not know the answer offhand, but leasing companies will, so it’s a good idea to ask beforehand so you know all of your options.

Open vs. closed-ended:
Most leases are closed-ended, meaning you return the car at the end of the lease, pay any costs due or buy the car at its residual value.

“If the car is not worth the residual value figure at that point, you’re not responsible as long as the car has normal wear and you haven’t exceeded the mileage limits,” Bankrate.com states.

Less common is the open-ended lease. If at the end of the term, the car is not worth the estimated residual value — as usually decided by an outside party assigned by the dealer — you pay the difference. This could lead to some unwanted hassles, but you should be fine as long as you read and agreed to all the fine print in your lease contract.

Once you obtain all the answers to these questions, you should be able to ascertain whether the deal will provide you with a better overall experience than buying a vehicle would.

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