first car dealership visit in the united states

Want to know how to prepare for a car dealership visit in the US?

You’ve done your research. You came to the conclusion that owning a car will allow you to move freely around the community. And this is a necessary part of your integration into the United States. You set your budget, found a lender, and got pre-qualified for a car loan. You are now ready to find your car at a local dealership. As an international, you may have never visited a car dealership in the US. Or even visited any dealerships at all! This may be your first car purchase. You may think this process will be an intimidating one, but it doesn’t have to be. Especially if you prepare yourself by gathering all the necessary information. If you’re asking yourself how to prepare for a car dealership visit in the US, keep reading. We’ll help you navigate through your first car dealership visit in the States.

Before you go to the dealership, you should be ready. Know what documents you will need to provide, what type of information will be required from you, and how to best negotiate with a salesperson. This way you will speed up the purchasing process. And you’ll be able to go home with your new set of wheels quicker.

So, how can you get ready to visit an auto dealership in the US for the first time? Here’s how:

1. Gather all the documents you will need to bring to the dealership

A valid driver’s license

Although it varies from state to state, it is very possible that you will need a driver’s license that is valid in the US. You’ll want to (and should) take your car for a test drive at the dealership. To do that, the dealership will need to see your driver’s license. A driver’s license is also necessary in order to get insurance and register your vehicle. So if you haven’t done so already, make sure you schedule some time to take the driver’s test. Or, if possible, transfer your foreign license to an American license.

An insurance card

In order to avoid delays in the purchasing process, it’s advisable to contact the insurance agent of your choice to add your new vehicle to your policy. This step is required in most states and you must show proof of insurance to your dealer. This is commonly known as “the insurance card”. Having this beforehand can set a smoother path at the time of sealing the deal.

Proof of income

You will be asked for proof of income and they’ll need to see paycheck stubs or slips. This should be provided to you by your employer. While not all dealerships will ask for your last two pay stubs, bringing them can help you get a better deal. If you have more than one job, it would be helpful to bring payment stubs from all your current employers.

Proof of residency

This must be an official document with your name and your physical address that certifies that you pay for a service on a regular basis. This document could be your housing leasing contract. Or other official correspondence such as electricity, internet, phone or water bills. It’s very important that said document has your name and address. If not, it will not be recognized as valid. Additionally, if you’re able to provide a list of references, do so. It’s not required but it can give you an advantage. Your list of references should include people that can attest as to your employment or financial situation.

2. Research your local dealership options. Then decide which ones to visit and when

You should visit more than one dealership and get quotes from each one. These quotes are estimated prices of all the fees and taxes to be paid in the final transaction. In order to make an informed decision, you’ll want to compare various quotes. That way you can determine which dealership offers you the best deal. You can narrow down your choices by considering which dealerships carry the vehicle you’re interested in. You can check the car models they offer by going to their website or calling the dealership directly.

If you haven’t decided which car you want yet, it’s best to visit a multi-brand dealership. However, by knowing exactly what you want before you visit your dealer, you’ll be less likely to be influenced into getting something that is above your budget. If you know the specific car model you want, or at least have an idea, you can research better. It’s a good idea to visit dealerships during slow seasons or towards the end of the month. Dealers may be trying to meet monthly sales goals and are likely to offer you better deals in order to guarantee a sale. This is one of the most important steps on how to prepare for a car dealership visit in the US. The more information you have, the better your decision-making process will be.

first car dealership visit in the united states

3. Make sure you’ve been pre-approved for a car loan that meets your needs

You can definitely visit a dealership before finding a lender. However, if you’ve already been pre-approved for a loan you will have a negotiation advantage. Additionally, you will less likely be swayed by a dealer who wants to change your mind. They may try to convince you on terms, model, pricing, and other factors.

If you have not chosen a lender at this point, there are some things you need to consider. First, decide between leasing the car and purchasing a new or used car. Second, you need to find a lender in order to better manage your car purchase. Your loan provider should be able to accommodate your special needs as an international. Choose a lender that will work with visa holders and does not require a co-signer. Lendbuzz can help finance car loans for internationals with no social security number or credit history in the US.

4. Be prepared to negotiate and remember you can always go to a different dealership

With this step taken care of, you’re ready to go to the dealership. Meeting with the dealer is often very overwhelming because they will throw at you offers that may seem like very tempting deals. The process can be exciting but a very confusing one. You’ll realize that dealers will try to divert your attention from the final price of the car. They will bring up things like trade-in value, monthly payments, and financing options. Those are tactics to steer the conversation away from the final purchase price.

Of course, you should keep in mind a maximum monthly payment. Yet it’s best not to base your purchase on the monthly payments alone. This could lead to you paying more than you have budgeted for. Or paying more than the car is worth. Base your decision on the total price to be paid at the end of your transaction. Keep in mind fuel costs and annual maintenance. Surprisingly, this factor is often ignored and really matters after all.

5. Consider the add-ons you will be offered before you finalize the purchase

When signing the final documentation, the dealership’s financial manager will offer countless add-ons that might be overpriced. In fact, most of these services can be purchased from other companies. These add-ons include extended warranties, consumer reports, paint protection, among other things. If you really want a particular add-on, research it beforehand. That way you will know if the dealership is overcharging for it and if you’re better off getting it from a separate company. You could also use add-ons as a negotiation tactic. If the price your dealer is offering you seems too high, suggest they throw in some add-ons.
Always remember you have the upper hand. You can always leave and choose a different dealership. And you can always get your add-ons from other companies like your lender or insurance agent.

Now that you know how to prepare for a car dealership visit in the US, remember the following.
If you’re not comfortable with the quote a dealer has provided you, you can walk away and visit a different dealership.

Dealers may try to pressure you in order to make a sale but you have the upper hand and final say.
As an expat in a new country, every dollar counts. Make sure you have all the resources to make the most informed decision possible.

car loan myths misconceptions debunked common

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Car Loans Debunked

Getting a car loan can be a lengthy process, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated one. As an international living in the US, you may have heard a few myths about getting a car loan. There are a few common car loan myths circling around. For expats, the process of financing a vehicle is a bit different from that of a U.S. Citizens. So it’s important to know what’s true and what’s not when it comes to getting a car loan. Let’s bust the most common car loan myths and get you on track to financing your vehicle!


Myth #1: You need a social security number to get a car loan.

Social Security Numbers are numerical identifiers used for all United States citizens. Nowadays, SSN are issued at birth. If you are a non-citizen residing in the United States you may or may not be eligible to apply for a Social Security Number.

For Americans, these 9-digit identifiers are extremely important. One major role of the SSN is the connection to a person’s credit history. This country runs on credit scores. Most loans require a credit check. Consequently, many loan applications require you to enter a Social Security Number.

An SSN cannot be obtained simply because you need a car loan. Fortunately, there are options for foreign nationals without Social Security Numbers to secure a car loan. Some lenders will collect other information from you, like recent pay stubs and bank statements. As a result, they can have an idea of how financially responsible you are.

So, is it possible to get a car loan without a Social Security Number?

First, simply ask yourself: what are my options? If an application requires an SSN, try contacting customer support and explaining your situation.

Second, you can find a lender who caters to foreign nationals or borrowers without social security numbers. Lenders who specialize in foreign national car loans, like Lendbuzz, already have procedures in place for borrowers without an SSN. This helps you simplify your application process and secure a car loan more easily if you are qualified.

Myth #2: You can’t get approved for a car loan without credit history or credit score.

Most lenders rely on your credit history to determine whether or not you would be a trustworthy borrower. They use your credit score as the primary indicator and your social security number to access that information.

Having a Social Security Number does not mean you automatically have credit history.

Lenders in the U.S. generally only consider credit history that occurred locally and was reported to the credit bureaus. This includes activity from credit cards, mortgage payments, and car loans.

Not having credit history is not the same as having bad credit. Having bad credit means you have missed payments or acted irresponsibly. Having no credit means you have no financial activity in your records yet. If you don’t have credit history because you haven’t engaged in financial activities in the US yet, you still have a shot at getting approved for an auto loan.

So what can you do if you don’t have credit history? Find a company who can look at other information besides your credit score. There are other ways to show you can be financially responsible. These include bills that you’ve paid on time, your income, and your savings.

Myth #3: You can only get a good interest rate on a car loan if you have a high credit score.  

Contrary to popular belief, it is indeed possible to get a good interest rate on a car loan, even if you have no credit.

One way borrowers can improve their chances of a low interest rate offer is by using a cosigner. A cosigner acts as an insurance policy to the lender. If you fail to pay, they can demand payment from your cosigner.

Cosigners need to have good credit and be willing to take responsibility for your loan if necessary. As an international, you may not know enough people in the United States. Or you may not have such a close relationship with someone willing to be your cosigner. After all, a cosigner means lower interest rates for you but it can damage your cosigner’s credit if you fail to pay. It’s a lot to ask of someone.

An option for expats in the U.S. is to seek out a company that can offer competitive rates but does not require a co-signer. If a company has procedures in place to determine your trustworthiness without a credit score, then you are more likely to get a lower rate based on their policies.

Common car loan Myths Misconceptions

Myth #4: All car loan lenders are the same.

Not all car loan servicers were created equal and it’s important to research the companies you are applying to. If you do this, you can secure the best rate and improve your chances of getting approved.

There are a few ways to decide which companies you should consider applying to:

Find a company whose mission suits your needs.

The Internet is your friend when it comes to choosing a car loan servicing company.

If you have special circumstances, like not having a social security number or a credit history, a quick web search can help you narrow down your options. Some lenders cater to bad credit and others to families. Many companies have their own niche of the market that they want to help.

Lendbuzz is an example of an auto loan servicer that caters specifically to internationals who may not have credit history in the US. By using other information about you, like your education, earning potential, and savings, they are able to provide car loans at fair interest rates to borrowers who may not qualify at other companies.

Identifying the companies that care about and understand your needs can help you save in the long run.

Find out other customers’ experiences.

Once you’ve decided on a few lenders, you’ll want to find out what others are saying about them. Browse Google, Facebook, and Yelp reviews to find out how good a company’s customer service is. Is there a common concern among customers that you should be wary about? How good are the company’s ratings?

Apply for multiple loans and compare for yourself.

If you’ve done your research, you’ve probably identified more than one company that would suit your needs.

Fortunately, the application process for a car loan is non-binding. This means that you can apply to multiple lenders in order to compare rates for yourself.


Myth #5: The monthly payment is the most important number

You may be tempted to focus on the monthly car payments to determine whether you can afford your loan or if you got a good deal. However, don’t forget to take into account the total cost of the car. This means taking into consideration the interest you will be charged and the price of the car. If you extend your loan, you will have lower monthly payments but overall price of the car will be higher.


Myth #6: You can only get approved by local lenders

You may think that part of the application process still has to be completed in-person but that is not true. There are lenders all over the United States who have 100% online financing processes. You don’t have to limit yourself to considering lenders based in your state. This opens your options to a variety of lenders.



Many car loan myths could be holding you back from purchasing a vehicle. Getting to the truth of common car loan myths is an important step in getting the car of your dreams.