If you’re an international student or expat, and you want to buy a car in the U.S., you have a couple of options. You can either buy a car from a private seller, or go to a new or used car dealership. While you may be tempted to go to a private seller, they may not have all the information and guarantees you want for your vehicle. At the same time, we know going to a car dealership can be a daunting experience. Read on to learn some valuable car dealership tips for internationals looking to purchase a car at a dealership in the US.
No one enjoys negotiating when buying a car — The process of haggling, going backwards and forwards on price, and being the target of pressured sales tactics isn’t much fun! That’s compounded when you’re from overseas, especially if there’s a language barrier or different customs.
If you’re not aware of the psychology of buying a car, and the techniques car dealerships use to get you to agree, you might not be prepared for negotiations. If that’s the case don’t worry — We’ve got you covered. We’ll answer your questions on what you can do to get a better deal on a new or used car, together with some practical hints and tips to give you a stronger position.
Should I do some research before I go to the car dealership?
Yes, you should start your research long before you go to the dealership. In fact, if you’re moving to the U.S. from overseas, it might be best to do much of the research and fact finding from your home country. When you research ahead of time, you’ll have the facts and figures you need to negotiate from a place of strength.
How do I compare cars with similar features?
Most of shopping for new or used cars is comparing features between manufacturers and models. You need to be consistent, so you know you can get the features you need at a price that makes sense. The easiest way to do this is to create a list so that dealers can consistently quote on the same type of car.
When you put together your list make sure you include:
- The make, model, and year of the car.
- The “trim level” of the car — This will decide many of the additional features.
- Features that your car must have and features it would be “nice to have.”
- Any details of guarantees, warranties, aftercare, or servicing that you want.
Make a few copies of this list and use it when you’re speaking with dealers, meeting them face to face, or for any other interactions.
Where can I research new and used cars on the web?
Information on every brand, type, model, and trim of car are just a Google search away. To start, learn about the automobile market in the place you’re planning to move to, then focus on particular towns and the dealers in and around them. Read reviews of dealers to see what other people thought.
Car comparison websites will let you find out about different features and understand what people are paying. When it comes to researching new or used cars, there are a number of very useful websites:
- Edmunds — Has a wealth of information and reviews on cars and allows you to browse by type.
- Kelly Blue Book — The original trusted resource for car reviews, also has lots of information on pricing for automobiles.
- Consumer Reports — Get independent, impartial advice on makes and models of car, including maintenance, reliability, and more.
- TrueCar — Understand how much people are paying for cars in your area.
What is the MSRP?
The MSRP is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. In many countries, the MSRP (which may be called something else) is almost non-negotiable. That’s not the case in the U.S. — The MSRP is the top price you would pay, but you can always negotiate the dealer down from there. A dealer can not advertise below that number but you can definitely haggle, or get extras added (e.g. a 0 mile car from a previous year model, reduced pricing, extended warranty, free servicing etc.)
How do I start questioning car dealers?
Once you know the type of car you want, and you’ve read reviews of new and used dealerships, it’s time to make a list. Pick the car dealerships that have the best reviews and see what models and trims they offer for the car you’re interested in. If they list car prices online, compare one dealership against another to see where you’ll get the best deals.
Once you have a list of dealers, it’s time to start getting in touch with them. Send them an email or contact them through their website. Let them know about the type of car you’re interested in and the features you’re after. Ask them to quote a price for selling the car to you.
What do I do when I want to decide on a car dealership?
Select the dealerships who provide the best deals on price, and call them. Explain you’re looking for a car and want to understand their best price. Ask if they can send you the invoice for the car — That’s the amount the dealership paid for the car in the first place, and it’s generally just below the lowest price you would be able to negotiate them down to.
Be polite and patient. Tell them that you’re comparing prices with their competitors, and that you can do business with them if they can meet your price. Be clear, concise, and firm. Be sure to use your features list when you’re speaking with them, and check off the features you’re looking for during the conversation.
What does the car invoice tell me?
If you can, get a copy of the car invoice. The invoice will show how much the dealership paid for the car in the first place. The invoice is typically below the lowest price the dealer will settle for, so you can use it as a base price to negotiate up from.
Use the invoice together with your research on fair car prices to come up with the maximum price you’re willing to go to. Be firm on this — If the dealer can’t meet that price, you can likely walk away and get the car elsewhere.
Should I approach the dealer before I have finance options?
One of the most important things you can do to strengthen your negotiating position is to already have car finance in place. Dealers will often use car financing to influence you, so if you’ve already sorted out a car loan, it immediately gives you an advantage. That’s why we recommend always having financing in place before you go to the dealer.
Can I get a car loan as an international student?
Yes. If you’re an international student shopping for a new or used car, you need to find a competitively priced car loan. Traditional lenders normally need you to have a social security number, credit history, and for you to be a resident of the U.S.
In contrast, Lendbuzz provides car finance to international students at very competitive interest rates, terms, and conditions. You need a car loan for international students that take takes into account:
- Being an international student visa holder.
- Does not have credit history in the U.S.
- Does not a social security number.
- Is not considered a permanent resident.
- Making loan repayments affordable on a student budget.
Lendbuzz evaluates your educational background and potential earnings when evaluating you for a loan.
Can I get a car loan as an expat?
As an expat moving to the U.S. you may have issues getting a car loan from a traditional lender. They generally want to lend to permanent residents with established credit and earnings history in the U.S. Lendbuzz could be a good alternative — They use slightly different criteria to provide loan options.
They take into account:
- Your employment history and earnings in your home country.
- Your education, financial stability, and ability to repay the loan.
- Different types of residency, citizenship, permits, and visas.
- Not having a credit history in the U.S.
The loan application process through Lendbuzz is quick and easy. You can apply here.
How do I check the car is the right one for me?
Assuming the car has all the features you’d like, the next step is to take it for a test drive. Be careful though, as the test drive is one of the main opportunities for the salesman to drive a hard bargain. You can reduce the chances of this happening through a few simple techniques.
- Try to test drive the car by yourself — Without the salesman in the car.
- Tell the salesman that you’re not interested in buying the car right now.
- Don’t show interest in the car if the salesman is with you.
Car dealerhip tips for internationals and how to negotiate prices?
You and the salesman both want the same thing
They want to sell a car and you want to buy one. Despite that, it’s important you get good value for your money. Here are some tips for swaying any negotiation and haggling in your direction.
Remember, you don’t need to buy a car right now
Stay relaxed, take a deep breath, be confident. If you find yourself getting anxious, excuse yourself and get a glass of water or otherwise step away from the negotiation. Get your emotions under control.
Be clear that you will buy at the right price
Salesmen like the certainty of a sale. Showing that you want to negotiate, and that you have the finances to pay for the car when the price is fair gives you a strong position.
Be clear that you have other options
Explain that if they can’t meet your needs and price, you won’t have an issue going to another dealer. if they give you a counter offer, and it’s not the price you want, turn it down calmly and politely. Be prepared to walk away, but leave them your phone number if they can meet your price.
Don’t show too much interest in the car
If you are emotional about the car, the salesman will sense that and capitalize on it. Keep the emotion out of it, and stay calm.
Go to the dealers at the right time
Salesmen have quotas to meet, and you can use that to your advantage. Go to the dealership at the weekend shortly before it closes, or towards the end of the month. That’s when salesmen are most incentivized to meet their quotas, and they may offer better deals to encourage you to buy.
Be consistent in how you negotiate with dealers
Use these same tactics wherever you go. Remember, it’s your money and you can choose when, where, and how to spend it.
Following these tips will give you the strongest position when you’re negotiating for a new or used car. Remember to do your research, find out what others are paying, shortlist your car dealerships, contact them and ask for an invoice, get car financing in place, and use the right negotiating approach.
One of the best things you can do to strengthen your negotiations is to have car finance in place. If you’re an expat or international student, we can help. Our loans are designed for people with special visas, green cards, or other legal statuses, and we provide competitive rates, terms, and conditions.
Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you even to build credit history.
Lendbuzz is an online platform providing car loan for international students and car loan for expats in the U.S.
Any questions? contact us for more details
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