The annual interest percentage rate (APR) you pay on a car loan can be deceiving. Because of the way in which loan payments are calculated, the actual interest rate, as a percentage of the loan amount, is higher for loans longer than 12 months. The exact rate depends on the APR and the length of the loan, but does not depend on the loan amount. See for yourself with this calculator.
For example, say you have a car loan for 60 months at 12% APR, which might be the case if you have poor credit. You can see from the calculator that the actual amount of interest you pay is about a third of your loan amount.
This means that for every three dollars you pay on your car loan, you pay another dollar for interest. This is money you never get back.
To minimize the total interest you pay on a car loan, do the following:
- Borrow as little as possible
- Make as large a down payment as possible
- Choose the shortest loan term as possible
- Lower your APR interest rate by improving your credit and shopping for better rates online and at local banks and credit unions