Tips to Navigate Auto Rebates and Incentives

When it comes to buying a car, there are plenty of ways to drive home a bargain, especially with dealer incentives, factory rebates, cash-back offers, and special financing. There are even incentives for certified pre-owned vehicles. So before you hit the showroom floor, it pays to explore your options so you can negotiate the best deal possible.

Is the Price Right?

“Car experts have taken the mystery out of pricing, which is a real boon for today’s consumer,”   says Frank Perez, Assistant Manager with Consumer Lending at SchoolsFirst FCU. “By using online resources, it’s easy to find the kind of car you’re interested in, add in all the options you want, see what others have paid for the same car, and find dealerships that will match those prices.”  Websites such as,, and Kelly Blue Book offer such information so you can find and price your vehicle, and even calculate monthly payments.

Rebates and Incentives

If you’ve narrowed down your top choice and know the price you want to pay, search for rebates and special incentives. “Today’s car sites aggregate all this information for you, so negotiate the sales price first,” says Perez says. “Then discuss the rebate, so you will get a true discount on your vehicle.”

Special Financing

If you’re a qualified buyer, you may be able to get special financing terms with no or low-interest rates, but keep your options open. “If you are prequalified for an auto loan, you have negotiating power,” says Perez. “Financial institutions such as SchoolsFirst FCU offer Auto Convenience Checks, so you can shop like a cash buyer. You don’t have to rely on the dealer’s financing options, if they aren’t competitive enough.”
Read Zero Percent Auto Financing Can Cost You for more tips.

Is Leasing an Option?

With more incentives crowding the marketplace, car leases are back. Many financial experts think that leasing can be a financial drain, but it depends on how long you plan on keeping your vehicle. If you trade in a car every few years, it’s something to consider. But just like buying a new car, it’s all about the fine print. Read the U.S. News and World Report article on Buying vs. Leasing to help you decide

Skip the Negotiations

If you’re the type of person who hates the negotiation game, just say no.  Many car dealerships offer Internet divisions that provide rock-bottom prices on vehicles. If you know the car you want, you can contact a Web manager and arrange for a test drive. It’s a no-haggle way to shop. “You can also use car buying resources to help you find a vehicle,” says Perez. “At SchoolsFirst FCU, we offer services such as Enterprise Used Car Sales and FastTrack Dealers to help Members buy new or used vehicles.”


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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.

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