Unfortunately, inflation and its consequences are unlikely to disappear very soon. According to Bankrate’s Third-Quarter Economic Indicator study, 43 percent of analysts believe inflation will increase in the next 12 to 18 months. Given that inflation is unlikely to have peaked yet, now is the time to prepare for its consequences, one of which is higher interest rates.
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The Fed’s Influence on Auto Loan Rates
The Federal Reserve does not directly impact vehicle loan rates, but it does influence the cost of borrowing money for lenders. When the Fed raises interest rates, lenders typically follow suit.
The impact of inflation on interest rates
The Federal Reserve’s decisions impact the benchmark rate, which has a knock-on effect on the cost of automobile finance. Although a driver’s rates are determined by a variety of criteria, including the borrower’s credit history, term length, vehicle type, and others, rising inflation implies higher interest rates for drivers with impeccable credit.
“One of the Fed’s primary responsibilities is to maintain purchasing power, which they do by raising interest rates,” says Sarah Foster, senior U.S. economics correspondent at Bankrate. In order to reach this aim, the Fed raised interest rates again in July, raising the target rate to 5.25 to 5.5 percent. This rise comes at a time when the auto market is already tight, with supply chain challenges keeping vehicle prices high, average more than $48,500 in May, according to Kelley Blue Book.
According to Foster, increasing interest rates make borrowing money more costly. As a result, the cost of financing a car is much greater than in previous years. Average auto finance rates have been rising since the beginning of 2022.
Higher interest rates are simply one consequence of the Fed’s objective of containing inflation. “Higher borrowing costs not only disincentivize spending, but also prevent people from affording big-ticket items, causing the economy to slow,” Foster adds.
“The hope is that eventually, those a greater likelihood will crush demand sufficiently that inflation eventually drops,” Foster adds. But this yearning is not fraught with danger. “An economy deprived of consumption frequently results in a recession, which isn’t fun for anyone.”
With all of this in mind, drivers will face higher rates as the Fed attempts to keep rising inflation under control. Now is the time to start planning for expense increases.
Rates have risen dramatically since August, as seen here, in accordance with Fed meetings. This rise is due to a higher benchmark rate as well as more costly automobiles. On Bankrate’s Federal Reserve website, you can keep up with shifting news and how it impacts your money.
When borrowing rates are high, how can you obtain a good deal?
While the interest rate you get is determined by a variety of variables, including uncontrollable ones such as inflation, there are steps you can take to save money regardless of Fed rate rises.
Most lenders’ rates will be higher right now, but that doesn’t invalidate the value of shopping around. Compare rates and conditions from at least three lenders before deciding on the best quotation for your requirements. Take note of the offered APR as well as the payback duration.
Determine the real cost of ownership.
As car costs reach new highs, it is critical to keep your budget in mind while purchasing. With little wiggle space, it is advisable to figure out how much you can realistically afford before going to the dealership. This way, you’ll know how much money you’ll need to borrow to drive your new automobile.
Consider an electric vehicle.
An EV has a greater initial cost, but it provides additional advantages outside of the petrol pump. You may recoup any money lost due to increased interest rates by qualifying for a green vehicle loan and earning EV tax credits.
Secure anticipated funding
Applying for loan preapproval, which will give you a precise indication of what your projected rates would be, is one of the most sure-fire methods to secure a fair bargain. This phase is not provided by all lenders, so search for it while shopping around.
Purchase a secondhand vehicle
Unfortunately, both new and used automobiles are now carrying higher-than-usual rates, with used being marginally lower. If you have some leeway in the sort of vehicle you desire, purchasing a secondhand automobile might save you money on monthly payments.
How to Refinance When Interest Rates Drop
When interest rates have dropped and your credit score has improved, it is a good opportunity to consider refinancing your vehicle loan. The processes are identical to those done when applying for your first loan.
- Examine the present loan. Before you begin the refinancing process, you should examine your existing loan, including the conditions and interest rates. Once you have those figures in mind, use an auto refinancing calculator to determine possible monthly savings.
- Examine your credit. You may find out where you stand in terms of accessible lenders by analyzing your credit score. When it comes to refinancing, the better your credit, like with any loan, the more competitive your rates will be.
- Determine the worth of your car. Refinancing may not always be the greatest financial decision depending on the value of your car. It is not advisable to refinance if you have virtually paid off your automobile.
- Look around. The key to obtaining a decent bargain is to compare at least three different lenders. A good place to start is with the bank or lender where you first signed up – there may be reductions for existing clients. However, not all lenders allow you to refinance an existing loan.
- You will be sent updated terms. You will get your updated terms after providing the required papers and, in certain situations, incurring a prepayment penalty. Make sure you pay off your old lender before closing the chapter on this transaction.
Now may not be the greatest time to purchase.
Although many people do not have the luxury of waiting to purchase a vehicle, patience may be on your side right now when it comes to saving money. Interest rates, which are expected to climb further after the July Fed meeting, coupled with high car prices make this a difficult time to purchase. Instead, wait till interest rates have dropped.