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Financial Education for Everyone

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Be prepared and research what kind of car you want and how much your budget allows you to spend in order to feel more confident during the sales negotiation, whether it's in person or online. As you're shopping around for a car, you can shop around to find the right dealership or online car sales service. All dealerships pay the car manufacturers the same price for the cars they sell, but dealerships with a better customer satisfaction index (CSI) rating often receive bonuses that allow them to offer customers a better price.

Getting a Good Deal

Here are some tips for conducting a successful negotiation:

  • Be prepared to negotiate. The salesperson may tell you that he or she wants to sell the car for your asking price, but has to ask the manager first. This is a common sales tactic, and if the initial price is not acceptable to you, don't feel pressured to accept the price on the spot.
  • Shop for a car later in the month. There are a lot of bonus and rebate programs that are based on monthly sales quotas. If a salesperson or dealership is short of meeting goals at the end of the month, there may be more willingness to lower a car's price in order to make a sale.
  • Disregard the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). Also called the "sticker price," this is the number on the car window. It's just a starting point for negotiations.
  • Find out about dealer incentives. Manufacturers sometimes give dealers extra money, bonuses and rebates for selling overstocked and undersold cars. Find out if the car you're interested in buying has any dealer incentives attached to it.

The dealer may offer all kinds of add-ons after you've negotiated the price. The dealer makes extra money on almost every single one of them. You may find add-ons are included as if you have no other choice. You do. Feel free to refuse them if the add-ons are of no personal benefit to you. Here are some of the potential add-ons:

  • Destination charges – Some manufacturers charge separately for shipping the vehicle to the dealer. You can't get around this, but check the sticker to make sure it wasn't already included in the price.
  • Licensing and registration fees – These are necessary, but call your state's Department of Motor Vehicles to make sure the dealer hasn't charged extra.
  • Extended warranties – These are also called service contracts. If you purchase a car with a good service history or track record, an extended warranty may not be necessary — take some time to consider what's best for you.
  • Dealer prep – Part of a dealer's job is to get the car ready for you and it's one of the things the dealer gets paid for. Don't pay for this service twice.