Preparation

CAR SHOPPING SURVIVAL: PREPARATION

“The man who is prepared has his battle half-fought.” –Miguel de Cervantes

Okay, so maybe comparing car shopping to a battle is slightly melodramatic, but it is important to recognize that a prepared shopper is a smart shopper.  Before stepping foot into a dealership, prepare yourself by doing the following:

Know what car you’re looking for

Not only know what car you want, but know everything about it.  The key to knowing what you’re looking for is researching the vehicle’s value, appropriate pricing for add-ons, and what other dealers are pricing the vehicle at.

                Research, Research, Research…

Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) and NADA Guides (www.nandaguides.com) are great resources for vehicle values.  If shopping used cars, Kelley Blue Book will likely be your best resource.

When comparing vehicle pricing at different dealerships in your state, Edmunds (www.edmunds.com) or Auto Trader (www.autotrader.com) provide several vehicle options at different dealerships.  This is a great way to compare prices and get a feel for the value of the car you are looking to buy.

At Royal, we price our cars based on the market. With the power of the internet, we research the competition daily, so you can be sure that our vehicle prices are very competitive.  This means you do not have to be a good negotiator just to get a fair deal.  Royal has created a Fast, Fair, & Simple process that keeps the customer in charge at all times.  (Click to learn more)

Research local dealerships

Perform some background research on your dealership options:

Know what they stand for and how they do their business

Will you get the answers you need without getting a headache?

Look at customer reviews online

Do they have a good reputation?

Are past customers satisfied with their experience and the price they paid for their vehicle?

A great places to look at customer reviews is DealerRater (www.dealerrater.com)

Do some further research on their service department

How well was the vehicle reconditioned before you bought it?

Did they replace any worn out parts?

If so, did they use the top of the line, or cheap aftermarket parts?

   (*note: Royal is meticulous about using only the best quality parts)

6 Keys to Improving your Credit Score

6 KEYS TO IMPROVING YOUR CREDIT SCORE

1.      Never miss a payment (can save you up to 160pts!)

This is the easiest way to kill your credit.  If remembering to pay your bill is your problem, ask your credit card company about signing up for their automatic bill pay program.  If you cannot financially pay your bill, talk to the credit card company about setting up a payment program.  Also be sure to stop purchasing things with your credit card, and set up a strict budget to outline your spending and to plan your credit card payments.

2.      Instead of getting a new credit card, extend your credit limit on cards you already have

If you are someone who is likely to be tempted to go on a shopping spree if you were given a new credit card, then entirely avoid getting a new credit card!  Instead, extend your credit limit on the cards you already have.  And remember: now that you have more credit available after extending your credit limit, this does not mean you can, or should, buy on that additional credit!  Instead, reserve that amount for any emergencies that may come up (e.g., a home or car repair, a doctor bill).

3.      Never use more than 20% of your Available Credit

Not only does keeping your spending down help you avoid paying interest in the long run, but keeping spending down also shows that you have extra credit available.  This could help you get approved for a loan faster down the road and also qualify you for a lower interest rate in the future!

4.      Get credit cards that have cash back rewards to contribute to your balance

Cards that have a cash back rewards program are very helpful. As long as you responsibly purchase only necessary items with your credit card, you are essentially being rewarded for shopping!  Your cash back rewards can be put towards your balance, which helps you pay off your bills.  But again, be very careful!! A cash back rewards bonus can make it very easy to start spending just to increase your cash back rewards.  So be cautious

5.      Finance a vehicle (or any big ticket item)

Making payments on a large priced item shows that you are able to manage and pay off debt.  Financing your purchase for as long as possible will also help, as it shows that you can pay off a long term debt.  This way will make you pay more in interest, but you will have lower monthly payments and increase your credit score.

6.      Take out a small personal loan and repay it over a year on time

This is a great way to boost your credit score.  It shows banks and loan companies that you are able to pay off a loan, too, which can help you get approved for a loan with a lower interest rate down the road.

Credit Cards: Are they good or bad?

CREDIT CARDS: ARE THEY GOOD OR BAD?

The average American carries 3.5 credit cards.  While experts agree that having a large amount can be one of the easiest ways to rack up debt, they also note that there is no right or wrong regarding how many credit cards any one individual should have.

Credit cards can be wonderful: they can build your credit score, give you rewards points, and qualify you for warranties and other bonuses.  However these benefits are only truly beneficial when you pay off most, if not all, of your balance every month. The moment you neglect to make a payment on your credit card, credit cards become extremely horrible. Not only do you start owing more because of interest rates, but your interest rate can go up! Not making payments lowers your credit score.

What about store credit cards?  Applying for a store credit card is especially tempting when they promise 10, 15, or 20 percent off of your purchase.  But experts say that when you apply for a store credit card, 20 points are taken off of your credit score. So, if you really must, limit yourself to one store credit card, perhaps to a store you shop at frequently.

Check Your Credit Report

CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT
You may be unaware of missed bills or other payments, so checking your credit report may make you aware of missed payments or other problems that you can improve on.  It can also reveal some things that aren’t meant to be on there, such as errors by banks or credit institutions.

There are 3 credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), and each is required by federal law to provide a free credit report once per year. You can submit for your free credit report by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 877-322-8228.

Look over your report carefully. There are a couple things you can look for:

  • Late or overdue payments that are listed that you might be able to prove that you actually paid
  • Is there another name or address listed under your name?  Only your name should be listed on the credit report.  If there is anyone else, you might be the target of identity theft.

If there is incorrect information on your credit report, you must notify both the credit bureau and the information provider (i.e., wherever you got your credit report from).  Include copies of any documents that may support your claim (cancelled checks, statements), but be sure to keep the originals for your records.  Send your credit dispute by certified mail with return receipt requested.  The investigation will take about 30 days, and you will receive notification of the results of the investigation. If the credit bureau finds that there was, in fact, incorrect information on your report, you should be sure to contact the other 2 credit bureaus to make sure your report is updated with the correct information.