Zero percent financing, cash back, or a combination of both — these days when it comes to buying a car there's a whole smorgasbord of incentives. The number nearly tripled this past year, according to Consumer Reports Auto Price Service. Consumer Reports tells you how to size up incentives so you get the very best deal.
In dealerships these days, even on many popular cars like the Ford Focus, Consumer Reports says you'll find plenty of incentives.
Rob Gentile, Consumer Reports' director of Auto Price Service, says the choices can be daunting. Here Ford's Web site is offering eight
"…ranging from 2500 dollars cash back to zero percent financing for up to 60 months, or alternatively you can opt for a combined deal of 1500 dollars cash back plus a low finance rate."
But you have to have a good credit record to qualify for zero percent financing. And it may not save you the most money. You've got to analyze the offers.
This example compares taking zero percent interest versus taking the 25-hundred dollar rebate and getting your own low-rate credit union or bank auto loan.
"With zero percent financing your monthly payment is 423 dollars, much higher than the 382 taking the rebate. And also the total cost is much higher."
With this deal, you'd save
14-hundred dollars taking the rebate. But a rebate is not always the way to go.
"You really need to crunch the numbers to determine your best route."
And keep in mind that incentives come from the car maker, not the dealer. So even if you take an incentive, Consumer Reports says it pays to negotiate with the dealer.
Consumer Reports has created a calculator to help you easily figure out which incentive offer is the best for you. The calculator is available free at ConsumerReports.org/carbuying. You'll also find more helpful information on how to get the best deal.
The incentive calculator will be posted permanently at consumerReports.org/carbuying.
Be aware that incentives come and go quickly and vary in different regions of the country. The particular incentives for the Ford Focus are available through March 31st.