Purchasing a car for the first time can seem like a daunting task, especially with all of the different options, makes and models consumers have to comb through today. Purchaser’s have the option to search through newspapers, scour the internet to utilize sites that compare vehicles, or go from dealership to dealership to try their luck at haggling face-to-face. But when it comes time to locking down a pre-approval on a loan, many forget to take advantage of the different avenues that exist to the benefit of the consumer.

By following a few of the Saving Thousands Rules, you can feel confidently prepared at the start of your search, bringing you one step closer to the car of your dreams.

#1- Shop around

If you wouldn’t buy the first car that you test drive, then you should know better than to take the first car loan you are approved for. Not all banks are going to have the best deal for you when it comes to getting pre-approved for your first car loan, so making sure you go to at least three to four different lender’s before you even start looking at cars is crucial. Most banks have an online form you can fill out which can make the process even more convenient and save you from having to drive all over town.

#2- Know your numbers

When shopping for your first car, it is crucial to do extensive research on more than just the car you are looking to buy, but also knowing your current credit score, the current most competitive apr’s and incentives from different banks, how much of a monthly payment you can afford and making sure your DTI is below 45%.

The FTC reports that 26% of credit scores have an error and 5% are the reason why people are getting denied for credit, so going over your score is crucial beforehand.

#3- Three day waiting period

The trick to making a big purchase is simple. Although the deal may look tempting and the sands of time are making it seem like you cannot spare another second, it is actually best for you to step away and wait the three days. Go over all of the details and numbers that are going to effect your finances for the life of this loan and ask yourself if you think you can do better.

A recent study published by the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes digs into the psychology behind waiting and how it can increase patience, as well as allow us to be more financially savvy.

#12- Check references

Think of shopping for a car loan as you would for a hotel or vacations. First order of business? Check the reviews in advance. Even though a loan varies from person to person, the level of customer service will factor into your experience while attaining the car loan. If you choose to go with said bank, it would be beneficial to know how they treat their customers throughout the life of the loan. Do they keep the loan and then sell it 6 months down the line? Do they have online banking options? What is their billing process like? Research the answers to these questions through a trusted source or current and past costumers. Visit websites like the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and other review message boards for client testimonials.