Car Buying Incentives and Rebates

Incentives from dealers and the government flood today's car market. Many appear and disappear on a daily basis, making it difficult to keep abreast of what's available. To help make the rebate system work for you, it's imperative that you understand the various car incentive programs and know where to find them.

Car buying incentives and deals make it all the more important to shop around at different dealerships and car sale sources when looking to buy a new or used vehicle. The leg-work and research you put in during the car shopping process can serve to strengthen your knowledge and negotiation skills when talking with a car salesperson. Generally, the more shopping you do, the better deal you'll find.

New Car Incentives

In a nutshell, new car incentives are attempts by manufacturers and dealerships to attract you, the buyer, into purchasing a new vehicle. Incentives come in several forms, and include:

  • Low APR rates.
  • Generous cash rebates.
  • Dealership payback plans featuring low monthly payments or long-term loan agreements.

Educating yourself on what incentives are available is strongly recommended before visiting a potential dealership. This information provides keen insight on how much room you have for negotiating. You can find new car incentives on dealership and manufacturer websites, as well as in newspaper, radio, and TV ads. If you have any questions, you should contact the dealership, talk with a vehicle manufacturer's customer relations department, or talk with a salesperson.

Dealership Incentives

Manufacturers offer these to dealers, generally on a regional basis, to help move old inventory or unpopular models. Sometimes referred to as "spiffs," dealers are not obligated to advertise these incentives to the public. You, the buyer, can benefit from this if you're aware of the incentive and use it as a negotiating angle. See below for information on how to find these rebates. You may be able to find a great deal on a vehicle that is advertised at a normal price. Asking questions can never hurt!

Auto Rebates for New Cars

Cash rebates are offered by the manufacturer directly to you, the customer, at the point of sale. You have the option of using the rebate as a down payment against the purchase price. Unlike low interest rate loan incentives that are contingent upon qualification, cash rebates come with no "maybes." If it's offered, you'll receive it.

Check dealership websites for the latest rebate information.

Other Common Car Incentives

  • Low interest financing: A loan offered by the dealer or manufacturer at a below-market interest rate. Eligibility is determined by a buyer's credit standing.
  • Special leases: Also known as "Subsidized Lease," this incentive provides low monthly payments for leased vehicles.
  • Targeted segment incentives: These incentives are targeted towards specific customer segments like first-time buyers, military members, college students and repeat customers.
  • Miscellaneous incentives: These incentives are intended to sweeten the pot, as they say, and may include extended warranties, free maintenance checks, zero payments for the first 6 months, and a year's worth of gas.

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