Can car buyer with great credit get a rate that beats lender's lowest advertised rate?

Tara Baukus MelloDear Driving for Dollars,
My wife and I are going to be buying a new car soon. I know we have great credit, so I've been poking around to find the lender that has the best interest rates. I know the "as low as" rates they advertise are ones we'll qualify for, but I'm wondering if there's a way to get an even better rate -- like a discount for being a customer, or a coupon or something?
-- Dr. J. and Mrs. Johnston

Parents playing and hugging children, family vehicle on the background © wavebreakmedia/

Dear Dr. J.,
Having top-notch credit is your first step in getting a great interest rate on your car loan, which can help save you big over the life of the loan. Although there is no such thing as a "coupon" to turn in when you apply for an auto loan, it is possible to get a discounted rate. Sometimes lenders offer their lowest rates to their current customers in the form of a loyalty discount -- either because of the current banking business they do or because they are getting another car loan.

With this in mind, your first step would be to check with any banks, credit unions or third-party lenders you currently do business with to ask for a discounted rate. For example, Bank of America customers who are Preferred Rewards members not only receive rewards on their credit card purchases, but they also get discounts on some loans, including up to 0.5% off their auto loan interest rates.

You might also research any local banks, especially local credit unions, which may offer an extra discount on new car loans to customers who are affiliated with certain companies, nonprofits, unions or the military.

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