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5 Insider Tips for First-Time Car Buyers

It’s exciting to buy your first car and finally have the independence to travel where you want to go and not depend on public transportation. Buying a new car is a big investment, so you want to do it right. That means more than just finding the right car; you also need a great auto loan.
With a little bit of help, you can navigate the car-buying process with confidence and secure an auto loan at a competitive rate. Here are five insider tips for first-time car buyers to help you secure the best auto loan rates in Wisconsin.

1. Improve Your Credit Score
Your credit score is one of the primary factors lenders consider when deciding whether to approve your loan and what interest rate to offer you. If you have a low credit score, you may be offered a higher interest rate or denied a loan altogether. It’s essential to know your credit score before you start looking for a car loan. If your score is low, you can take steps to improve it before applying for a loan or even shopping for a vehicle.

Start by checking your credit report for errors and disputing any inaccuracies. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year at If you find any mistakes, speak to the appropriate credit bureau about correcting them.

There are a few steps you can take personally to improve your credit score as well. Pay off any outstanding debts, make all of your payments on time, and avoid applying for new credit in the months leading up to your auto loan application.

If you need a hand, you can also work with a credit counseling agency to help you develop a plan to pay off your debts and improve your credit score.

2. Shop Around
It is essential to shop around when looking for an auto loan in Wisconsin. Different lenders offer different interest rates and terms, so take the time to compare offers from multiple lenders. Your auto loan rates can also vary depending on your credit score and the type of vehicle you are buying.

Start by checking with your bank or credit union, as they may offer special rates to members. Then check with other credit unions and banks, online lenders, and even the dealership where you plan to purchase your vehicle. Credit unions in general tend to have lower rates than other lenders because of their not-for-profit status. Some lenders work directly with dealerships, such as Capital Credit Union.

When comparing offers, pay attention to the interest rate, fees, and repayment terms. By researching rates in advance, you will have a better idea of what to expect and can potentially save thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. If you are looking for an auto loan in Wisconsin at a good rate from a credit union that will work for you, come to Capital Credit Union.

3. Get Pre-Approved
Before you start shopping for a car, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a loan. Pre-approval means that a lender has reviewed your credit score and financial information and has agreed to lend you a certain amount of money at a specific interest rate.

Getting pre-approved for an auto loan is a great way to streamline the car-buying process and give you more bargaining power with dealerships. When you get pre-approved for a loan, you will know exactly how much you can afford to spend on a car and what your interest rate will be. This can help you avoid overspending and ensure that you are getting a fair deal on your loan.

To get pre-approved for an auto loan in Wisconsin, you will typically need to fill out an application with a lender. You’ll need to provide information about your income, employment history, and credit score. Once you’re pre-approved, you’ll receive a letter from the lender outlining the terms of your loan. This letter can be presented to dealerships as proof of your financing.

4. Make a Down Payment
Making a down payment is a great way to reduce your monthly car payments and secure a lower interest rate. Making a down payment is an important aspect of financing a vehicle purchase. When you make a down payment, you’re paying a portion of the total cost of the car up front. This reduces the amount you need to borrow.

The amount you choose to put down depends on your financial situation and the price of the car, but experts generally recommend putting down at least 20 percent of the car’s purchase price. Most lenders will require a down payment of at least 10 percent. The more you can put down, the lower your monthly payments will be, and the less you’ll pay in interest over the life of the loan.

Keep in mind that a down payment can also be a negotiation point when purchasing a car, as dealerships may be more willing to negotiate on price if you’re putting down a significant amount of money up front.

5. Consider a Co-Signer
If you’re a first-time car buyer or have a low credit score, you may have trouble qualifying for a loan on your own. In this case, you may want to consider asking someone to co-sign a loan with you. A co-signer is someone who agrees to take responsibility for the loan if you’re unable to make payments. Having a co-signer can improve your chances of getting approved for a loan and getting a lower interest rate. If your co-signer has particularly strong credit your interest rate may drop dramatically. However, it’s essential to understand that if you miss payments, it will hurt both your credit and your co-signer's credit.

Buying your first car is a big step. One of the most critical aspects of buying a car is finding the best auto loan rates in Wisconsin. By following these tips, you can improve your chances of getting approved for a loan and securing a competitive interest rate. Remember to improve your credit score, shop around for a great lender, get pre-approved, make a down payment, and consider a co-signer. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to driving your dream car in no time.

Ready to get started? Check out the auto loan options at Capital Credit Union.

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