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People are funny. They clip coupons and comparison shop for things like toothpaste and frozen vegetables. Yet, when it comes to major financial decisions, they barely give a second thought to the idea of shopping around. But that's exactly what you need to do. Before you contact even one lender, you should call around to your local banks to find out what types of rates they are offering. You can visit Bankrate.com's personal loan search engine to find out the overnight averages for personal loan rates. It will let you plug in your zip code to get rates from banks, both local and otherwise, that do business in your state. Also, once you do decide on a lender, ask about discounts for auto payments. Some banks and credit unions will give up to a 0.25% discount if you allow them to automatically electronically withdraw the monthly loan payment directly from your checking account.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|