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Safe travels from NIHFCU!

If your NIHFCU vehicle loan application has been approved, congratulations!  You’ve made a great choice in financing with us and we appreciate the opportunity to serve you.

In addition to your approved loan’s great rate, your package includes these two great options:

Please read on and consider these important reminders, tips and suggestions BEFORE you visit the dealership. They can help you get on the road fast…with your approved NIHFCU loan package and the best purchase price on your new wheels.

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Protect Your Investment and Your Family

Financing a vehicle is a big commitment. Fortunately, the NIHFCU offers protection options at member-friendly rates commonly much, much lower than you will find at the dealership. Stay on the road feeling secure with:

  • Guaranteed Asset Protection –  helps pay the difference between what insurance will cover and the amount you still owe on your NIHFCU loan in case of theft or total loss accident.

  • Loan Guardian – helps protect against debt following unexpected life events including death, disability or involuntary unemployment.

Click below for more details. Then, then call us to learn how easy these important program are to obtain at our great low rates.

Call your loan representative
for more details
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Shop at home with prices guaranteed to be below MSRP!

Join thousands of buyers who have received upfront pricing and used the time-saving tools when buying a new car with NIHFCU’s Car Buying Service powered by TrueCar. You’ll also get great savings on used cars.

Click below to:

  • Start shopping online to find the perfect car – with the perfect price – without leaving the comfort of your home.

  • Learn about Home Delivery, allowing you to purchase and get your car delivered to you without ever stepping into a dealership.

  • Have a trade-in? With TrueCar Trade you can get a real-time value on your trade in and a True Cash Offer™ backed by a check.

Speak to a specialist
NIHFCU member exploring NIHFCU car loan options on a computer
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Get your live check before you go to the dealer.

When you visit the dealer, they’ll try to convince you of better financing options than what you have in hand with NIHFCU. And, while they will make it sound great, it could easily end up costing you much more in the end.

Our Sign Today And Ride Today (START) program provides you with a live check and great leverage at the dealership. It will indicate that you are a serious cash buyer with a great financing package already in hand, and it will help you to close right at the dealership without delay and dealer trickery.

There is no reason any reputable dealer should not accept the live check. Just fill it out and the dealer should be able to do the rest without hassle.

If you have not secured your “START” live check, call your NIHFCU loan officer today…you will be glad you did!

Call your loan representative
for more details
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Be prepared for your dealership visit!

Which side is the dealership finance office on (hint: it is not yours)?

At the dealer, you will be led to the Financing and Insurance (F&I) office. It is important to understand what will occur here and the tactics you will likely encounter.  The dealer’s finance manager is a highly-trained professional responsible for getting buyers to finance through the dealership. They also encourage the purchase of extra products sold by the dealership with the ultimate goal of maximizing the profit of each transaction.  

With every new vehicle purchase, the dealership has three separate chances to earn a profit, including on a trade-in, on the purchase price of the vehicle and in the financing process. The sales team is responsible for the first two while the finance manager is responsible for the third. However, the sales team and the finance team often work together to make sure the deal is as profitable as possible for the dealership.

For the dealership, it is always better to convince the consumer to finance the purchase in-house – especially when the customer has a suboptimal credit profile and is required to pay a higher interest rate. Finance managers may also add to the interest rates quoted to them by lending partners, or they may encourage customers to take on a longer loan with a slightly higher interest rate. The latter strategy results in a lower monthly payment for the customer but an overall increase in profits for the dealership. Many dealerships offer their finance managers commission or other incentives for selling extra products or longer loans.

Getting approved financing from the NIHFCU before you go to the dealer is great move as you have an honest, straightforward and great package in hand!  

Common tricks to avoid at the dealership

Here is a list of some common tactics used by dealers to maximize their profits…at your expense.

The credit deception
A dealer may say something like, “With your credit score, you won’t qualify for competitive financing rates.” This may be true. However, some dealers will imply your credit is worse than it is so you think you’ll have to pay a higher interest rate.

  • How to avoid: By getting pre-approved for NIHFCU financing you will be mitigating this. However, as the dealer may still try to talk you into their financing, come armed with your live check and your credit score so they can’t pull a fast one on you.

The single-transaction strategy
Many people view buying a car as one transaction. It’s not, and dealers know this. It’s really three transactions: the new-car price, the trade-in value and the financing. The dealer sees all three as ways to make money.

  • How to avoid: Treat each transaction the same way the dealer does, as a separate transaction. That means you should negotiate each one. If you get a new car for $200 over invoice but receive only $1,000 for a trade-in car that’s worth $2,500, you haven’t done as well as you could. And of course, you should be confident in taking your NIHFCU financing with member-friendly terms

The payment ploy
A dealer might say, “We can get you into this car for only $389 a month.” Probably true, but how? In some cases, the dealer may have factored in a large down payment or stretched the term of the auto loan to cover more months.

  • How to avoid: Focus on the price of the car rather than the monthly payment. Never answer the question, “How much can you pay each month?” Stick to saying, “I can afford to pay X dollars for the car.”

The sticker shenanigan
The price listed on the window is what’s known as the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP. What you really want know is the invoice price – the amount the dealer paid for the vehicle. Working from the invoice up is much easier than trying to cut from the MSRP.

  • How to avoid: Shop online with NIHFCU’s online buying service. However, if you wish to shop at the dealer, find out what cars actually are selling for after taking into account any consumer and dealer incentives. Some really hot cars go for sticker price and even above. Be patient and wait: The prices will fall as demand slackens.

The holdback hustle
Manufacturers often give cash incentives — sometimes called holdbacks — to their dealers to encourage them to move slow-selling models. This typically isn’t mentioned in advertisements.

  • How to avoid: Search for holdbacks or other factory-to-dealer incentives available for the car you’re considering. While it’s not a given that the dealer will apply any of these funds to the car you like, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

The financing four-flush
Some dealers have been known to call customers days or weeks after they signed a purchase agreement to tell them that the financing fell through. It’s a crock. The dealer can know if you qualify for financing almost instantly. The goal of the later call? To sign you up for a loan with a higher interest rate because, according to them, they just found out you didn’t qualify for the lower rate.

  • How to avoid: By getting pre-approved for and taking NIHFCU financing you’ve done a good job in mitigating this. But if they convince you to take dealer financing, never leave the showroom without signed contracts that spell out every detail and with every blank filled in. If you’ve got that, they can’t retreat on the financing.

The insurance illusion
Some dealers may try to get you to purchase protection policies when buying your car. One type, GAP, covers the difference between what the car is worth and the amount you still owe on it. Another one is credit life insurance which will pay the balance of your loan if you die before you’ve been able to repay it.

These could be, and often are, very important coverages for certain buyers. You’ll want to understand what you’re purchasing and have the opportunity to decline it and shop around for better prices. The mark-up on these policies at the dealership can be enormous, in part because the insurance companies that sell the policies to the dealerships offer them huge incentives — everything from cash to first-class trips — to push the policies.

  • How to avoid: Check out NIHFCU protection options with rates commonly way less expense than those at the dealership. You can also check with your insurer to see if GAP is already included in your regular comprehensive automobile coverage.

The rate razzle-dazzle
It certainly sounds tempting — 0% interest to finance a car. However, this deal may not be the best one for your wallet. For starters, most financing incentives are for shorter terms, and you need a stellar credit record. With very short-term loans, such as 24 or 36 months, payments on even a moderately priced car can be sky-high.

  • How to avoid: Getting pre-approved by NIHFCU is a great move and don’t be lured by 0% or other low-ball financing at the dealer. Consult with NIHFCU to determine what deal is best. You can also use our rate calculator to compute various scenarios and figure out what deal suits you best.

The rollover ruse
Often, it’s tempting to trade up to a more expensive car even before you’ve finished paying off the car you’re currently driving. One way that some car buyers do this is by rolling over the remaining payments on their current car into a new car loan or lease. While this isn’t illegal, it is risky. Why? You’ll end up owing more on the second car than it’s worth. This is known as being “upside down” on the vehicle. If it’s totaled in an accident or if you decide down the road to trade it in, you’ll end up writing out a big check to cover the remaining amount of the loan.

  • How to avoid: A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that you don’t want to roll over an old car loan into a new one.

The long-term trick
There’s nothing illegal or even deceptive about dealers offering loan periods extending out six or seven years. After all, many cars last longer than they used to, and longer loan terms mean your monthly payments are lower. Still, it may not be optimal for everyone. You’re likely to continually owe more on your car than it’s worth because your car is depreciating faster than you’re paying it off.

  • How to avoid: If you’re considering a long loan period, you probably should scale back to a less expensive car that’s better suited to your budget.

The balloon bamboozle
Similarly, some dealers will encourage you to purchase a car for unrealistically low monthly payments now but with a much larger balloon payment at the end of the loan period. In a few cases, this can be a legitimate way to finance a car. For instance, you may have just graduated and can realistically assume that your income will rise by the time the balloon payment comes due.

  • How to avoid: Be wary of these offers and know that your financial situation may change by the time the balloon payment comes due, and you may struggle to pay it. You are likely better off sticking with the upfront and honest financing from the NIHFCU!

Bait and switch
The bait and switch happens when you go in looking for one car and the dealer manages to get you behind the wheel of a different one. Dealers may use deceptive strategies to get you on the lot, only to tell you the car you want isn’t available and then try to sell you on something else, often at a higher price.

  • How to avoid: Stick to what you want. If you did your research and know what you’re looking for, then there’s no need to second-guess yourself. Wait it out or try another dealer that does have the car you want.

Contract cons
Contract cons are clauses tucked into the fine print that you might miss and likely wouldn’t even be looking for. They might come in the form of changes to the loan term, add-ons that you never agreed to or other services that can lead to significant costs.

  • How to avoid: Read over the contract carefully. Make sure there are no blanks. Ask about all charges and make sure the terms are clear to both you and the dealer. Make sure you keep a copy of the contract.  And, of course, stick with your great financing package from the NIHFCU!


9 things NEVER to do at the dealership

Buyers often cited “dealer negotiations” as the most dreaded part of the entire buying process. That’s probably because most buyers are unsure of what to say, how to act, etc. Here are some things you shouldn’t do at a car dealership.

Don’t Say You “Love This Car”
When you tell the salesperson that you “love that car right there” or something like it, they’ll see dollar signs, because the theory is that if you love a car, you might overvalue it in your own mind. Therefore, the best plan of action is to totally remove emotion from the car buying experience.

That doesn’t mean you need to act stoic and unimpressed, but keep your feelings close to the chest. Let the dealer know you’re interested, but if you can’t get a good deal, be sure to tell them you’re obliged to keep looking around.

Don’t Be Flashy or Divulge What You Do
Salesmen are trying to get you to pay as much as you’re willing to pay, so if you come into a dealership acting like you have a lot of money, they’re going to take advantage of that.

The best practice is to just avoid divulging any information about yourself. Keep it mysterious, even if a salesperson asks what you do for a living (which they probably will). A dealer probably won’t up-sell a minimum-wage worker, but they’ll have no qualms if they’re dealing with a neurosurgeon.

Don’t Tell Them Your Limit On Monthly Payments
Never say something like “I’m looking for monthly payments of no more than $XXX.” Even though monthly payments are probably an important factor for you, don’t discuss this with a dealer. The first step is always to settle on a price before you enter other negotiations.

If a dealer asks you what you’re comfortable paying every month, tell them that you aren’t comfortable discussing that until you both have determined the overall price of the car. Always deal with total price before you talk about anything else, because things can get confusing otherwise.

Don’t Ask How Much You’ll Get For Your Trade-In
If you have a trade-in, do not to mention this until you’ve negotiated the deal on the price of the car you are buying. Trading in a car and buying a car are two separate transactions, and should be treated as such.

If you throw your trade into the negotiation, a dealer can leverage that to confuse you on how much you’re actually paying for the car you’re buying. Also, if the dealer knows he owes you a set price on a trade-in, it might be tough to get him to help you out on lowering the MSRP of the car you’re buying. If the dealer asks if you’re trading in, just say you’re considering it but haven’t decided.

Don’t Say “I’ll Pay With Cash” Or “I Have Financing Secured”
According to Consumer Reports, over 84% of people buying cars finance the purchase, and dealerships are hoping this is the case so they can get you to borrow through their in-house financing programs. If they ask if you’ll be financing, just say you’re considering it but are still unsure. If you do have the cash, you might get price gouged if you mention it, whereas if you keep it to yourself you can probably negotiate a better deal.

Don’t Fall For The Good Guy/Bad Guy Routine
The bait and switch is a common tactic that you might find yourself in if you’re not careful. Some salespeople might try to disarm you with humor, or they might act like they’re on your side while the manager in the backroom looks on angrily. They might even offer you a great trade-in offer or a discount on the total price of the car you’re looking to buy.

These lowball offers and inflated trade-ins are always squashed by the manager. Often times an agreed-upon number might be “lost” or “forgotten.” If the dealer refuses to honor an agreed upon price, walk. Get everything in writing, always. Remember, the dealer personnel are trying to get the best commission possible for themselves.

Don’t Allow Them To Force “Extras” Or Add-Ons
Always be on the watch for extras or add-ons to your purchase or financing. By packing “extras,” dealers can increase your car payment price by saying things like, “it’s only $40 more a month.” Over a 60-month loan, that $40 will cost you an extra $2,400. All those add-ons can add up quickly.

Check the financing and the sell-sheets closely so that you know which add-ons are unnecessary and which ones you should consider. Things you should never be charged for are doc preparation fees, fees for “customer service,” and hidden loan acquisition fees.

Be sure to check out NIHFCU’s protection programs to avoid inflated costs at the dealer.

Don’t Let Dealers’ Complaints Deter You
Always let a salesman’s complaints fall on deaf ears. Most of the arguments a salesperson will give you are completely ridiculous. For instance, they may say that you’re asking an outrageous price, and that they won’t make a single cent off the price you’re asking. They might say it’s unfair to ask them to “work for free.”

Just remember this: No one works for free. The dealership pays a minimum wage (and usually more), and as they usually make extra through commission, a salesman never works for free. Also, no matter what a dealer sells a car for, they always get a flat fee commission, regardless of price.

Your best bet isn’t to get cynical or aggressive, because that can work against you, but definitely put your foot down and don’t allow yourself to be haggled.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Get The Better Of You
It’s worth repeating. Keep your emotions hidden, if possible, during any outing at a car dealership. Of course this is easier said than done, and it’s hard to be devoid of ALL emotion, because buying a car is pretty exciting. Your best bet is to show a general lack of indifference when buying a car, and this will help you avoid being manipulated in any way.


8 Things TO DO at the dealership

Likewise, here are some things TO DO at the dealership to help you get in your car with a great deal.

Do: Be Wary When Dealers Start Talking About Monthly Payments
One tactic a seller might use is to bring up monthly payments before the total cost of the vehicle is established. This is to try and confuse the buyer in terms of what they’re actually paying for the car. When monthly payments are brought up, a buyer usually won’t know if the payment’s for 24, 36, 60 months, or what.

Clever salespeople might also focus on low monthly payments so they can inflate other variables, such as length of terms and sales interest, which will increase dealer profits while making sure you spend more on the car overall.

  • With approved financing from NIHFCU, you have a great package in hand before you got to the dealer – with honest advice and terms that work for you!

Do: Get Your Own Financing To Save On Interest Rates
One of the things you should just about always do is to secure your own financing before you start shopping around.  (If you’ve received financing approval from the NIHFCU, great job!)

You will almost always save on interest rates this way. Don’t be talked into working with a dealership’s in-house financing program—even if they say you can save, you’ll most likely always be able to find better financing outside of the dealership.

If you do borrow from a dealership, you’re then at the whim of the dealership. When you’re negotiating a deal, particularly the price of a car, having your own financing will save a lot of hassle down the road.

Do: Your Research
Telling the dealer, “I’m just here to look around,” is like honey to a bear, because then they can start immediately selling you. Always research prices for the car you want before you hit the dealerships. This way you will know when you’re being haggled and when you’re being given a fair price.

Dealers are trained to keep you in the door, once you’re inside. You can skip this whole step if you already have a plan, a price-point in mind, and are ready to barter. Most dealerships have online inventories, so that’s a good place to start looking for the models you’re interested in.

Do: A Vehicle Inspection
Even if you know nothing about cars, there are a few basic things you should always check before you drive the car off the lot. If the dealer seems hesitant or wisecracks about doing so, you should probably walk: there might be something they don’t want you to see.

Inspect the trim lines of the car to make sure they’re straight—no fluctuations, offset doors, fenders, or uneven lines. These could all indicate frame damage. The joints should be straight around the engine bay, with no signs of recent welding. Look for rust underneath the car, in the wheel wells, on the rails, everywhere. Rust is not a good sign, and oxidation should be a sure turnoff from buying that particular car.

Do: Test Drive It And Ramp It 
When buying a car, the test drive is usually one of the last stages before you decide if you’re going to buy, so don’t go easy on it—the point of the test drive is to make sure it’s up to your standards. When in doubt, ramp it. It’s the best test of a vehicle’s ability to accelerate, the integrity of its suspension, and more.

If they won’t let you ramp it, at least take it on the highway. Be sure to brake quickly (though not on the highway), turn corners sharply (but safely), and accelerate hard.

You don’t want the car to be shaking when it’s going fast, that could be a sign of bad alignment, or other things that could cost you a fortune down the road. If the pedal is spongy when you brake hard, that could mean bleeding.

Do: Always Be Aware Of Your Credit Score
If you don’t know your credit score, a dealership will be that much more likely to rip you off: all they have to say is that you don’t qualify for a better rating. They may even inflate the rate you can get elsewhere knowing you are unaware of your credit score.

The best thing to do is to pull your own credit score for free, and know your score before you step foot in a car dealership. When you know your credit score, you can shop around for financing and find a better deal.

  • Remember, with approved NIHFCU financing before you enter the dealership, you have largely mitigated this concern.

Do: Know The Dealer’s Invoice Prices
The two most important things to know when buying a car: research car prices and know the dealership’s invoice prices.

The invoice price is also referred to as the “dealer cost,” which is the price that appears on the invoice that the manufacturer of a car sends to the dealer when the dealer receives the car from the factory.

A recent car survey on Kelley Blue Book said that knowing the dealer’s invoice can save an average of $800 on your buy. TrueCar, Kelley Blue Book, and can all help you find invoice prices and what your trade-in is worth.

Do: Always Comparison Shop At Multiple Dealerships
Comparison-shopping is one of the two variables that Kelley Blue Book decided helped save buyers $800 on car purchases, combined with knowing the dealership’s invoice. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, but if you can’t find the price you’re looking for at one dealership, it never hurts to go check another.

One method to consider is to email all the dealers around you and say “I plan to buy (enter car) today, and I’m going to buy it from the dealer who gives me the best price. What’s your best price?” Straightforward and to the point.


14 common adds-on. Should you buy from the dealer?

Dealers make a lot of money convincing buyers to take expensive add-ons. If you don’t have time to thoroughly research, it may be best to pass on them, and if you can’t say no to take a trusted friend or family member along – one that is money conscious and watches every penny!

You’ll likely be told that if you don’t buy add-ons at the time you purchase the car, you can’t include them in your financing. The fact is, you never want to do so in the first place. Not only will you have to pay interest on the purchase price of the items, they typically add no value to the vehicle. A dealership will be more than happy to sell you those products a week, month, or year after you’ve taken delivery of your car.

Below are 14 common dealer add-ons to recognize and consider before you visit the dealer. Doing so can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Extended Warranties
If you pay full price at a dealer for an extended warranty at the time you buy your car, you’ll likely overpay – sometimes by thousands of dollars.

If you want to consider the warranty, insist on seeing the actual contract as brochures won’t include all the details. You can also contact consumer advocacy agencies where the warranty company is based to see if others have filed complaints and how long the company has been in business.

Also consider where you can get service. If the only repair shop you can use is the dealer you purchased the car from, the contract becomes worthless if you move. Be sure to look at repair deductibles, and the process for getting a claim approved.

Despite any pressure the dealer may apply, you don’t have to buy an extended warranty when you buy the car. You also don’t have to purchase an extended warranty from the dealership, unless it’s the brand’s own program.

Rear-Seat Entertainment Systems
Entertainment screens are an easy way to keep kids occupied on long drives. They can be installed at the factory or as accessories at the dealer. There is, however, a much cheaper way to go.

Instead of getting the built-in system, opt for iPads or tablets with headphones. Not only are they much less expensive, but you can move them from car to car or take them on other travel. If you buy a vehicle with a built-in system, you’re locked into the technology until you replace the car.

Paint and Fabric Protection
Why spend hundreds or even more for paint sealant or fabric protection for a car that already has a high-quality finish and interior fabric protection? Even if your car doesn’t, there are far cheaper options to get quality protection.

One of the selling points on these add-ons is a warranty for any damage to the paint or upholstery. Ask yourself how far the price of the product would go in having those repairs done if you ever have damage? You can have a lot of minor dents or stains repaired for $1,000, and you’ll still have that grand in your pocket if no damage occurs. Many of the protection plans are loaded with limits and exclusions that limit their utility when you need them.

Many cars come from the factory with fabric protection. You can also add fabric protection with spray-on products. Just be sure to test any product on an inconspicuous spot first. Touching up nicks and giving a car frequent washes and waxes with a high-quality car wax is an inexpensive way of protecting its paint.

Key Protection
A newer tactic to get buyers to take expensive add-ons is to have a price tag on the car keys that shows their replacement cost. It’s true, car keys are more complex and costly than ever, but you probably shouldn’t pay hundreds of dollars to insure them.

Paying a couple of hundred dollars to protect a key that costs $500 to replace and reprogram isn’t a good use of your money. That’s especially true if you include the cost in your auto loan and pay interest. If your key fails from a mechanical issue, it will likely be covered under your car’s bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Most standard automobile insurance policies won’t cover the damage or loss of your car keys or key fobs. Check with your insurance company, though, as you may be able to add the coverage at an affordable price. If you’re concerned about losing your car keys, you can get inexpensive tracking devices that link to smartphone apps.

Anti-Theft Window Etching
The sales pitch goes like this: By etching your vehicle identification number (VIN) on a car’s glass, its value to thieves is less, so they won’t steal your car. If it is stolen, having the VIN etching makes it easier for police to recover your vehicle.

Those facts may or may not be accurate, but paying a hundred dollars or more at the dealership is a waste. Chances are a thief won’t even notice if the glass is etched before they steal the car, and won’t be deterred if it is. Your VIN is already stamped many places around the vehicle, so adding it to the glass has little value in aiding its recovery.

It’s not uncommon for dealers to have window etching and its cost pre-printed on the sales forms, as if though it’s a required part of the sales contract. It simply is not. If it’s not something you want, insist that the cost is removed or substantially discounted.

Often included in the window etching package is some type of theft protection coverage. For the most part, theft protection coverage is loaded with exclusions and only serves to increase the markup the dealer wants to charge for the product.  If you do want to have VIN etching, you can do it yourself for far less.

Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP)
If your car is declared a total loss or gets stolen, and you owe more on your car loan than the vehicle is worth, GAP can pay the difference. The goal is ensuring its financing is paid off. It’s required by most leasing companies and is a good idea for some buyers.
Buying it from a car dealer without exploring options, researching the coverages, and considering the price you need to pay can be an expensive mistake.

GAP is a huge profit center for car dealerships. However, customers don’t have to buy it from them, even if your lease requires you to have it. You should also shop for coverage from your auto insurance company and lender. In addition to price, you’ll also want to  look at what the policy covers, what limitations there are on that coverage, and what kind of reputation the company offering the extended car warranty has with consumers.

Nitrogen-Filled Tires
Filling your tires with nitrogen has some advantages. Tire pressure remains slightly more stable and it seeps out a little slower than normal air. Thus, your tires may last a bit longer. Should you pay a hundred dollars or more at the dealership for this? Probably not. If you really want nitrogen in your tires, many tire shops will replace your air with nitrogen for as little as a few dollars per tire.

While tire pressure is critical for race cars, having the tire pressure vary by a couple of pounds won’t have a significant effect on mileage, drivability, tire wear, or safety.

Credit Insurance Products
The sales pitch sounds fantastic: If you die or become disabled, the plan will pay off your loan, so you or your survivors aren’t saddled with a pile of debt. That’s great for the lender and no-so-great for a borrower who pays a high price for the coverage through the dealer.

There are typically two types of premiums. One has a large upfront payment that provides coverage for the length of the loan. The other has a fee that’s included in your monthly payments that declines as the loan balance declines. If you opt for the former and include the amount in your financing, you’ll be paying interest on it for the life of the loan.

Before you buy the coverage, you should do some research. In many cases, you can find an affordable term life and disability policy for less money.  A cousin to credit life and disability insurance is coverage that takes care of your debt if you become unemployed. Before signing up for the coverage at a car dealer, it’s a good idea to check with your loan provider and car insurance company. You’ll want to see if they have equivalent coverage for less money.

It is important to remember that in most states, a car dealership cannot require you to take out these types of policies as a condition of buying a car. If they try, you should treat it as a red flag and walk away from the deal.

Factory Roof Rack Accessories
Most automakers offer a range of roof rack accessories that only fit their factory racks. You can save a ton of money in the long run by skipping those items and buying accessories from rack companies with adapters to fit your factory crossbars.

The benefits of doing so go beyond price. You can move the generic rack accessories from car to car, and you don’t have to replace them when you buy a new car. The multitude of available accessories is likely to be much broader than the few accessories offered in the dealership.

Some automakers are starting to outfit their rack systems with parts from top manufacturers. While the initial prices at the dealer may be higher than you’ll find in sporting goods stores or online, you can include the purchase price in your car’s financing. In some cases, those parts will be covered by the car’s warranty.

Windshield, Tire & Wheel, or Dent Protection
Dealers will have several protection packages including plans that cover the car’s glass or tires and wheels. Other options cover bodywork if you get small dents. For many buyers, it may be better to save your money and pay for any repairs as you need to make them.

If you are considering one of the plans, don’t rely on the sales material alone. Instead, ask to look at the contracts that back the protection. Often you’ll find an encyclopedia’s worth of conditions and exclusions that dramatically reduce the value of the programs. Check on the health and reputation of the companies behind the coverage searching  the internet and by contacting the Better Business Bureau or other consumer advocacy groups where they are located.

Some dealers offer windshield protection treatments that promise to strengthen and protect your glass. You should ask yourself, if such a substance existed, wouldn’t automakers be putting it on all of their cars?

While typical comprehensive auto insurance policies do not cover certain types of road damage, most types of damage are. For those that aren’t, you may be better off by skipping the dealer packages and saving your money to take care of any issues.

Watch out for salespersons that tell you that the protection packages are required on all cars that they sell. If that’s indeed the case, which it likely is not, it’s a sign you should be going to a different dealership.

Tire and Wheel Packages
Walk into any showroom, and you’ll likely see some of the cars displayed with aftermarket tire and wheel packages. The cost of those pricey add-ons will show up on addendum stickers next to each vehicle’s window sticker.

If you want the car, but not the fancy wheels, you’ll have to negotiate to have them removed. The original tires and wheels are probably in the back shop somewhere, though the salesperson won’t want to tell you that without getting some other concession on the car price. If they do agree to reinstall the original wheels, make sure the swap is completed before you sign the final paperwork.

Before buying custom tires and wheels at a dealership, you’ll want to consider whether you get warranties that match the original coverage on the stock tires, wheels, and sensors for the tire pressure monitoring system. Be sure to research what you can get a similar package for outside of the dealer, either from a tire store or online retailer. By going to an outside source, you can get the exact wheels and tires you want, not just ones that look good on the showroom floor.

Window Tinting and Clear Film Protection
In some climates, automotive window tinting is a necessity. It can improve the look of the vehicle and make it more difficult for thieves to see what’s inside. Buy it at the dealer, though, and you might pay too much. It’s better to make price and product comparisons from multiple retailers.

The same goes for plastic film protection products such. There are many products available, and they differ significantly in quality and longevity. You’ll want to search online to see which products are working best for people in your area, as the various products can perform differently in varying conditions.

A key consideration with either window tinting or transparent protection film is having it properly installed. A shop that specializes in its installation is a better choice than one that only occasionally applies the product.

Car Alarms and Tracking Systems
Before you buy an alarm system or vehicle tracking system from a car dealer, be sure to shop around at car electronics retailers. See if you can get a better price or a system that better meets your needs.

Some dealers install security systems on every vehicle on the lot. Doing so helps them prevent theft. They’ll then try to sell you the system when you purchase the car. If you don’t want it, be sure to insist that it is removed in its entirety, or the price is substantially discounted before you agree to buy it. If you special order a vehicle, ask that the dealer not install any security system when it arrives.

Delivery Fees
While not an add-on product, it’s still something that you should avoid paying at the dealership. Delivery fees are a tactic to trick buyers into paying twice for something that’s already included on the vehicle’s price sticker.

You probably won’t see the delivery fee until you’re ready to sign the final paperwork. It will be the same or very similar to the destination charge shown on the price sticker. Many shoppers will confuse the two and end up paying both fees. If anyone at the dealership tells you that a delivery fee is the cost of having the car delivered by the manufacturer to the dealer’s lot, they are not being honest with you. The destination fee on the price sticker is the cost of shipping to the dealership.

If you see a separate delivery fee listed, ask to have it removed. Unless they can come up with a great reason why it was not included in your price negotiations, it’s a good time to walk away from the deal.

Once you have an idea about how much you should pay for a policy, you can give the dealership a chance to meet or beat any lower prices or superior coverage plans you’ve found elsewhere.


12 Tips for negotiating at the dealership

Avoiding the anxiety of buying a car starts with preparation. It starts with knowing what vehicle you want, right down to the trim level, options, and color.  Below are some steps to help you negotiate successfully.

Knowledge Is Power
Today’s consumers have more information about the car-buying process than ever before. You can learn about every phase, from trade-ins to car deals, financing, and auto insurance on your computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Never go to the dealer without knowing your credit score and pre-approved financing in hand (With an NIHFCU pre-approval in hand, you’re off to a great start).

Used car shoppers can also go online to separate the cars they should consider and ones they should not. Websites provide vehicle history reports that can show problems with a pre-owned car before you waste time looking at lemons.

Not every car costs the same to insure.  Getting insurance quotes when you’re car shopping can save you from sticker shock after you’ve already committed to an expensive-to-insure new or used car.

Remember It Is a Business Transaction
Buying a car is a business transaction — nothing more, nothing less. Unchecked emotions can get in the way of you getting a good deal. As pleasant as the dealership staff may be, they are not your new best friends.

Some buyers think they can bully their way to a great deal. However, what will usually happen is the dealership will find a way to stick it to the rude customer.  On the flip side, some salespeople will attempt to confuse, persuade, and perhaps even intimidate you into taking a deal that’s not good for your wallet. That’s why it’s essential to have a friend along who can see that happening, even if you don’t.

Car salespeople are trained in negotiating and excel at moving you incrementally to the deal they want you to take. You, however, have the strongest position – you can always walk away. Being polite and level-headed is the name of the game wherever you are in the car buying process.

Don’t Focus on the Payment
This is one of the most critical pieces of car-buying process, but it’s also the one that buyers most frequently ignore. While you need a car payment that fits into your monthly budget, focusing on the monthly payment alone is the fastest way to getting a horrible deal.

A big secret of the car business is that if you can keep customers focused on the monthly payment, you can play with the other numbers in the transaction to get the profit you want. The customer will end up paying far more in the long run, and they’ll never realize they got a lousy deal.  Instead, you want to look at the car’s total cost, including financing, fees, and add-ons.

A common method is to extend your loan out to six, seven, or even eight years, which lowers the monthly payment, but greatly inflates the total amount of interest you’ll pay. In addition to the extra interest, you’ll also face the possibility of needing costly repairs on your aging car while you still have car payments to make. The longer the loan, there’s more chance of having an underwater car loan, which means you owe more on the car than it is worth.

  • With an NIHFCU financing package in-hand, you can enter the dealership with confidence knowing you have a great deal from a lender you can trust.

Know the Deals
When there’s a new car on the way, or a vehicle is just not selling as fast as automakers desire, they’ll offer money-saving discounts. For buyers, that means financing deals that reduce or eliminate the cost of interest and cash back offers that reduce the vehicle’s price. Both purchase and lease deals are no-haggle ways of dramatically paying less for a new car.

While you don’t have to haggle to get a deal, a salesperson may not volunteer that there’s an offer available. Unless you have done your research and know about the offers, you can’t be assured of getting the good deal you deserve.

Think About Financing Early 
An easy way to give the dealership the upper hand is to have them arrange your financing – committing you to one of the most profitable products a car dealership sells.

Adding financing into the negotiation process also gives them another, often confusing, lever they can adjust. In some cases, a dealership will suggest a financing deal that makes them the most money, rather than giving you the best deal.  Instead, smart buyers know to never get within a mile of a car dealership without having a pre-approved financing offer in hand. So, great job in securing your financing from the NIHFCU before you go to the dealer!

Separate the Trade-In
Another item the salesperson will want to mix into your car deal is the value of your trade-in. You don’t want that to happen, as it adds another ingredient of confusion. If you do, you need to watch the transaction closely to ensure that they’re not using the trade-in’s value to push other numbers around.

An experienced salesperson can show you a great price on your new car by lowballing your trade value. They can show you a fantastic trade-in value by jacking up your car’s price or adding another year onto your financing.

How do you avoid this? First, be undecided about whether you’re going to trade-in your car or not, and force them to structure the deal as though you are not. Then you can bring the trade-in up at the end. Along the way, you’ll want to have checked the current value of your car to ensure you’re getting a reasonable price.

Another way is to sell the car yourself, either to another dealership or a private party. Some used car superstores have streamlined processes that make selling your car easy and quick. You can also seek an instant cash offer, which gives you a price you can expect from any dealer who participates in the program. It’s a relatively new and easy way to unload your old ride. Last, you can sell your car to another private party. Private sellers will likely get the most money, but it doesn’t come without some hassles, including its own negotiation process.

Negotiate the Price First
Your main goal as a buyer is to get the lowest possible price on the vehicle while the salesperson wants to get the most money for their dealership. Dealerships will usually want to include your trade-in and financing when putting together a deal because it can create complexity and confusion. You want to keep the components separate, focusing on the price of the car.

There’s a saying about negotiation: The first person to speak loses. While that’s an oversimplification, it is true that once the dealer suggests a price, they can’t go any higher. One you say how much you’re willing to pay, you can’t get any lower. You should always have a fact-based reason why you can’t go any higher, and force the salesperson to have a provable reason to justify their counter-offer.

It’s natural to want to fill in any gaps in the conversation by talking. That’s a strategy that a trained salesperson will use to try to get you to take their deal. Please don’t fall for it. Say what you want to say, then be quiet, no matter how deafening the silence is. When the salesperson finishes, don’t say anything until there’s a question.

A car dealer is entitled to a certain amount of profit – that’s how they stay in business. So don’t make your initial offer insultingly low. The final price will likely fall somewhere between the dealer invoice cost and the window sticker’s price, less any available rebates.

It is essential to know what you can negotiate and what is non-negotiable. Don’t waste your time trying to negotiate the destination charge on the window sticker, but do question any additional freight charges a dealer might try to sneak in. You won’t be able to negotiate taxes or registration costs. Still, junk fees such as advertising fees, documentation fees, and other miscellaneous costs should be discussed. If the dealer has added something to the car that you don’t want, you should request it be removed and note that you won’t pay for it. That includes things like window etching and nitrogen in the tires.

Timing Is Your Key to Savings
Showing up at the dealership right before closing time won’t get you a great deal on a car. A better way to time your purchase or lease is to look at the calendar. Like many businesses, car salespeople have commissions and bonuses based on the ends of months, quarters, and years. Buying a car toward the end of those periods gets you much better odds of negotiating a great deal. Of course, that’s only true if the salespeople and their dealership haven’t already hit their goals.

It helps if you are ready to go, with financing in place, to make the most of the timing. Miss the end of their bonus period by even one day, and any incentive they have to make you a good deal will be gone.

There’s More Than One Dealer
Getting prices from multiple dealerships used to be a huge hassle. Now it’s easy, and it helps you avoid one of the most common mistakes of car shopping: Getting prices from only one dealership. By getting prices on a car from more than one dealership, you can compare them against one another. It doesn’t hurt if salespeople know they’re competing against each other for your business.

It’s easier today, because you don’t even have to leave your house. By visiting multiple dealers’ websites and opening up discussions with their internet sales managers, you can request offers and barter back and forth.

Even if you have found the perfect model, trim, and color at one dealer, be sure to ask other dealers to price that precise configuration. Dealerships often trade vehicles, and you may have multiple outlets vying to sell you the same exact car.

Avoid Costly Extras
Just when you’ve come to an agreement on price, you’ll be ushered to the dealership’s financing office. If you’re not careful, this can be a perilous place for your wallet.

It’s where you’ll be pressured to buy add-ons. Some may be cheap, while others cost thousands of dollars. There is time pressure involved because the dealer wants to include the add-ons in the deal and possibly include them in your financing. They’re very good at selling the products and can make it sound like you need things before you can leave the dealership.

Here’s the truth. Most of the things you are offered are available outside of the dealership from third-party companies. They can be purchased at lower prices elsewhere. Even if it must be purchased at the dealership, they’ll be more than happy to sell it to you even months or years down the road.

See NIHFCU protection programs at prices commonly much lower than the dealer

Read the Paperwork
Before you leave the dealership and no matter how anxious you are to get on the road, it’s critical that you read and understand every document that’s put in front of you. Check all of the numbers, making sure the car price is correct, as are any loan terms and trade-in values.

Watch out for any add-on or unexplained fees that have appeared at the last minute. It’s a good idea to have a sharp-eyed friend or family member along to double-check the documents. Never sign a form that is incomplete or incorrect. It’s much harder to correct errors once a document has your signature on the bottom line.

Never leave a dealership with a new or used car unless you are certain that the lender approved your financing and all of the loan paperwork is complete. Without those safeguards, you can fall prey to an old-timey scam known as yo-yo financing.

Yo-yo financing starts off with a dealership assuring you that you’re free to drive away in your new ride. They might not tell you that your purchase is still contingent on the lender approving the financing. Sometimes they’ll genuinely believe that you’ll qualify. Other times the financing officer will know that you don’t have a chance of getting the loan deal they offered, and you agreed to.

About a week or so after you’ve left, you’ll get a call saying that there was something wrong with your financing, and you need to come back and work things out. When you return, you’ll be faced with a much more expensive financing package. At this point, many buyers see no other way than to sign the new documents and pay the outrageous price. There will be a high-pressure push to get you to sign, and after a week, you may have developed an attachment to the car.

What you should do if this happens to you is immediately start looking for financing from local credit unions, online lenders, and banks. Get pre-approved for the best deal you can get, and have it in hand when you go back to the dealership. If you can’t get a good enough deal that the vehicle’s affordable, you need to be prepared to drop it back off at the dealership and walk away.

With NIHFCU approved financing, you’ve done a great job in avoid this scam! 

Be Prepared to Walk Away
While it might seem that the dealership has all of the power in the negotiation, it’s really all in your hands. You have the greatest strength, and it is to walk away from a deal that you don’t like. It’s a power that far too few shoppers take advantage of.

Many people won’t walk away because they’re embarrassed, or they like the salesperson. Others are reluctant to walk away from the time they’ve invested in the process. The truth is, if you’ve invested your time in a bad deal, not walking away will see you spending your money on that lousy deal for the length of your loan. It’s a poor decision that can haunt your pocketbook for years.

One way salespeople try to prevent you from walking away is by having you sign the offer sheets during the negotiation process, as if your signature locks you into the deal. It doesn’t. The agreement is not final until you sign the last documents in the financing office.

It is important to walk away the right way. Don’t leave fuming angrily, leaving skid marks in your wake. Instead, say something like, “it looks like we’re still a ways apart, but please call me if you can find a way to make this deal work.” If they’re close to goal at the end of the month, you’ll get a phone call. Sometimes they’ll even chase you across the parking lot.


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