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Sometimes, it takes booking a flight to get the best deal on a new car.
That’s because different states have different prices – and more than $1,000 in savings can be waiting for you in a nearby city or state. Even if you don’t want to hop on a flight for savings on your new car, there are other ways to bring your costs down.
Not everyone has the means to pay for a new car in cash, which can save you thousands right off the bat. But other saving methods, like knowing which fees you could negotiate, searching through different cities, and getting pre-approved, are accessible to nearly everyone buying a new car.
1. Avoid hidden fees
You’ll pay plenty of absurd, additional fees at the car dealership. But there are some you can snake out of just by standing your ground. Here are three of them, and how to ditch them…
Doc fee/conveyance fee, or the cost of the “paperwork” to transfer the vehicle from the dealership to you. The dealership will tell you this fee is non-negotiable. So negotiate elsewhere. It’s quite common for savvy shoppers to demand, “Well, if I have to pay hundreds extra, what else can you do for me?” Be prepared to walk away on principle, and watch the dealer fold – because you’ll have wasted a few hours, but they’ll be out thousands of dollars.
Advertising fee. If this is actually on the window sticker of the car you want, ask for it to be removed. If you’re hit with it while signing the paperwork, point it out and cry foul. Usually, if dealers are trying to sneak it in, they’re willing to remove it – if they get caught. You’d be surprised how often they’re not called on it.
Dealer prep fee. Thankfully, the most ridiculous fee is the easiest to negotiate away. Customers have literally arched an eyebrow and simply said, “Really?” Poof, it’s gone. Again, stand up to the dealer. They know it’s a bogus fee. Let them know you know.
2. Fly to buy
The best deals may not necessarily be on the car you want or the city you’re in, but CarGurus found the best “fly to buy” deals based on certain cars in specific cities – and most of them are in Florida. Deals differ depending on where you are flying from. For example, the car shopping site CarGurus says Albany, New York residents who fly to Miami to buy a 2015 Ford Mustang can save around $2,065.  Flyers from Birmingham, AL to Houston, TX will save $1,375 on the same car.
Other top flying deals include:
Grand Rapids, MI to Tampa, FL – estimated savings of $1,363
Fresno, CA to San Diego, CA – estimated savings of $1,297
Des Moines, ID to Dallas, TX – estimated savings of $1,038
Portland, OR to Boise, ID – estimated savings of $1,135
Memphis, TN to Orlando, FL – estimated savings of $1,135
Nashville, TN to Las Vegas, NV – estimated savings of $1,113
These were some of the most searched vehicles on CarGurus:
2007 Chevy Tahoe: Reno, NV to New York, NY – estimated savings of $2,224
2013 Ford F-150: Nashville, TN to Cleveland, OH – estimated savings of $3,307
2014 Chevy Silverado: San Jose, CA to Buffalo, NY – estimated savings of $4,347
2014 Chevy Silverado: Sacramento, CA to Boston, MA – estimated savings of $3,036
2007 BMW 3 Series: Albuquerque, NM to Dallas, TX – estimated savings of $1,871
2010 Chevy Camaro: Louisville, KY to Miami, FL – estimated savings of $1,781
2006 Dodge Charger: Jackson, MS to Washington, DC – estimated savings of $1,392
2006 Dodge Charger: Memphis, TN to Miami, FL – estimated savings of $2,239
2007 Toyota Camry: El Paso, TX to Chicago, IL – estimated savings of $1,877
3. Get pre-approved
If you’re not buying a new car in cash – and sadly, too few of us do that – you need a loan. The easiest way to save on a loan is to secure it before you buy the car. That might sound like you’re putting the car before the horse, but it’s actually a smart move. It’s called “preapproval” – and here’s why you should do it…
It’s a sign you’re serious. Car dealers know preapproved shoppers are sharper than those who aren’t. After all, you spent time on the front end securing a potential loan, so you’re less likely to fall prey to emotional (and costly) sales tactics.
You’re not locked in. Just because you’re pre-approved doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind. Dealers work with their own lenders, and because they specialize in car loans, they can often offer better rates. You’re more likely to get the best deal if you walk in with one already in hand.
You can shop around. Too many people shop for a new car after their current vehicle dies. They have no time to search for the best terms for a loan. When you seek pre-approval, however, you can check with many lenders. You can usually get pre-approved in 24 hours, and that approval usually lasts for up to 60 days.
Dori Zinn is a full-time freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She’s president of Blossomers Media, Inc., a web development and online media consulting company. Along with her work on debt.com, she’s been a longtime freelancer for Money Talks News — a personal and consumer finance website — and South Florida Gay News — the largest weekly LGBT newspaper in the South. Zinn has written for a variety of other publications, including Huffington Post, The Week, Quartz, Fort Lauderdale Magazine, Indulge, and realtor.com.
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