How to Afford a Car in College
As a college student, you may not have much cash to spend right now, but that doesn't mean you won't be able to buy a dependable car. At Val-U-Line®, we don't just offer cheap used cars; we're also proud to help our customers get the affordable financing and services they need.
So, if you're a student who's in the market for a reliable vehicle to get you to and from campus, here are some top tips on how to afford a car in college.
1. Buy a Used Car
The latest vehicles on the market may have advanced tech and features, but if you're a college student looking to save, it's best to buy used. Typically, pre-owned vehicles cost less and have lower monthly payments than newer models available.
When you buy used, you may also save on some of the associated costs of owning a car. There’s a good chance you’ll pay less sales tax. You may pay lower insurance rates as well.
Plus, just because you're buying a pre-owned vehicle, it doesn't mean you won't have access to great technologies. Many used cars are equipped with innovative features for enhanced comfort, performance, and safety. Get started by browsing our large inventory of cheap used cars online.
2. Start Saving Early
Saving is essential to afford a car in college. So, you want to make sure you're putting away money for a down payment. Something as simple as using your meal plan in the dining hall or making coffee at home instead of buying it can save you a few dollars every day, which will add up over time.
Creating a budget can help you save for a car. For starters, you’ll want to stick to the 20% rule. This rule dictates that only 20% of your monthly income should go towards transportation. Other factors to consider when creating a budget include:
- Insurance and registration costs
- Other debts
- Entertainment budget
Start saving as early as you can. The earlier you start saving, the more money you'll have when it's time to buy. Having more cash to spend on your car can lower your monthly payments and will help you get a vehicle that's packed with even more advanced features.
3. Boost Your Credit Score
Credit can vary from student to student. When you're buying a car in college, you want to make sure your credit score is good (around 700 or higher). Good credit can get you approved for better finance rates, which means lower monthly payments. Overall, it'll make buying your car more affordable.
There are a few easy ways to boost your credit. They include:
- Building your credit file
- Making payments on time
- Catching up on past-due accounts
- Limiting how often you apply for new credit
Typically, college students don't have much experience with credit, so your scores may be a little lower. Fortunately, you can work to improve it if you have a credit card. Paying off the statement balance on time and maintaining a balance of less than 30% of your credit limit can boost your score over time.
If you don't have any credit cards, then apply for one. When you're approved, you'll want to use the card to help establish your credit. Just make sure you pay it off on time each month and avoid opening more than a few accounts every two years.
4. Secure a Steady Income
A steady income is another must. Lenders will look at your credit score and your monthly income when considering you for a car loan. It shows them that you’ll be able to consistently make payments on time.
There are some college students that maintain full-time or part-time jobs during the school year, but if you’re looking for work, you can sometimes find it right on campus. You could apply for campus positions, such as:
- Teaching assistant
- Resident assistant
- Campus IT
- Campus dining
- Campus transportation driver
You could also search for a paid internship. Along with a steady income, you’ll also gain real-world experience that could help you enter the workforce after you graduate. On top of that, completing an internship could also get you additional credits to go towards your degree.
5. Get a Cosigner
Having a cosigner can also help you afford a car in college. If you have bad credit or no credit, a cosigner with better credit can give you the boost you need to get approved for a loan. Plus, they can even help get you affordable terms for lower monthly payments.
There are a lot of benefits to choosing to apply for a loan with a cosigner. Even if you have good credit, using a cosigner could potentially:
- Get you more loan options
- Improve interest rates
- Help you get a better car
- Give you a chance to further improve credit
However, you need to make sure you stay on top of your payments. If you default, it won't just affect your credit; it will also affect your cosigner's. They will also be responsible for paying the loan if you cannot.
6. Shop at a Dealership
To find cheap used cars for college students, you should shop at a dealership. You'll find fantastic deals to help you save more on a vehicle. Plus, you can take advantage of manufacturer finance offers as well as lease deals for certain cars.
One of the biggest benefits to shopping at a dealership is the extensive selection of pre-owned cars. Whether you’re looking for more space for your friends, a zippy sports car to get to class on time, or something else entirely, you can peruse some of the following:
- Luxury Cars
Dealerships also offer perks, including warranty options and vehicle history reports with every vehicle. Best of all, pre-owned options are thoroughly inspected by professionals to ensure you get a safe and dependable ride every time you hit the streets.
Find Your Campus-Ready Car
Being able to afford a car in college is easier than you think. Just keep these helpful tips in mind. Also, feel free to reach out to the team at Val-U-Line® for more information or when you're ready to shop. Our used car dealerships are home to hundreds of budget-friendly pre-owned vehicles that you can check out today.
Don't wait—contact us today to learn more!