You walk into a car dealership, knowing you want a new car. You've got a good job and are quite sure you can make the payments, whatever they turn out to be. By the time you've negotiated a price and trade-in value for your current car, the loan process can be an afterthought. Bad idea! Sure, the dealer may come up with a payment that fits your budget, but will those payments continue long after the car is worn out and tired? Shop with confidence, and avoid any dealership sleight of hand, by getting your car loan pre-approved.

Preplan Your Car Budget

As with any big expense, a new car will make a sizeable impact on your household budget. By applying for a loan before you shop, you will find out exactly what your monthly payment will be. Once you fill in the other fixed costs of insurance and license, you'll have a good idea of the overall monthly costs of a new vehicle. What's more, your Credit Union can also look up the value of the car you're considering. You'll know right away what your payment will be, and even the book value (or the true value) of your vehicle.

Take the Pressure Off

A car shopper who doesn't have financing in place is fair game for whatever loan programs the dealer has available, and those may cost you much more than a low interest loan. Your Credit Union's goal is to get you the most affordable financing possible. The dealer's goal is to sell you a car, which may mean finding you any financing necessary to make the sale. Such loans may provide a monthly payment that fits your budget, but can wind up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars more over the term of the loan.

Free Up More Time to Drive

When you're looking for a new car, one of your main objectives is negotiating the lowest purchase price, and, if trading in a vehicle, getting the highest possible trade-in value. These two important tasks are time consuming and, quite honestly, take a lot of concentration and energy. By getting your loan preapproved, you've saved the time and effort otherwise spent figuring out the dealer's financing options. You'll spend less time dealing, and more time with your new car!

Broaden Your Shopping Horizons

Say you're at a dealer far from home. The selection is great and the prices are even better. Loan preapproval lets you make your purchase without having to come back to the Credit Union to discuss a car loan, after which you'll make another trip back to the dealer to get the car - if it hasn't already been sold. The same holds true of purchasing a car over the internet if you're so inclined. It's simply a matter of convenience. Once you're preapproved, you've got buying power to make your move on a good deal and reduce your time spent at the dealership...and the Credit Union!