New Car Incentives and Rebates
New-car incentives and rebates are used by automakers to either spur sales of slow-selling models or motivate a customer to stay loyal to the brand. They often take the form of cash discounts off the vehicle or low APR interest rates for financing.
Incentives and rebates can vary by region and often change from one month to the next. This is why it is a good idea to check the latest offers before heading out to the dealership to buy a new car.
If you're in the market for a new car, be sure to compare the latest incentives being offered at dealerships in your area. Edmunds keeps car shoppers informed with up-to-date information on new-car rebates, finance offers and lease deals that are currently available on every make and model.
Here are the types of incentives you're most likely to come across when shopping for a new-car deal.
Customer Cash: These new-car incentives are cash discounts taken off the price of the car. Buyers often must meet certain requirements in order to get a rebate. Some rebates are only valid for recent college graduates, members of the military or a first responder, for example.
To qualify for a loyalty bonus, buyers need to show proof that they own a car or truck of the same make as the one they're buying. A "conquest" bonus, on the other hand, might require buyers to show that they own a competitor's vehicle. In some cases, the discount will only apply toward a car lease.
Many automakers also require the vehicle to be financed through their "captives," meaning financing companies they control, such as Ford Motor Credit or Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.
Low APR Financing: This incentive offers low interest rates on financed vehicles, ranging from zero to about 5 percent. A buyer's credit score needs to be fairly high to qualify, however, so not everyone will be eligible. These promotional rates are often among the lowest available, provided that you qualify.
The low interest rates are sometimes tied to the length of the loan term, so pay attention to this detail.
Low APR financing usually cannot be combined with customer cash. And in most cases, customer cash is a better deal because you are financing a smaller loan amount. But if you want to explore all your options, the Edmunds Low APR vs. Cash Back Calculator will help you spot the better value.
Lease Specials: Manufacturers often offer special lease programs through their captive financing companies. These are formally known as subvented or subsidized leases. These subsidized leases are generally based on a residual value that's much higher than the actual worth of the car at the end of the term.
In other words, the carmakers and dealers adjust the residual value to bring down the monthly payment and thereby make their cars and trucks more appealing.
Find the Best Car Deals for You
On this page, you can browse car incentives and rebates by ZIP code, manufacturer or vehicle. Compare incentives and rebates on different models you are considering to make certain you get the best deal on your next automotive purchase.
Once you know what the deals are for the car you're interested in, treat the incentive as a given and continue to negotiate on the price of the vehicle. If it is a special lease, see if you can offer a lower down payment to reduce the out-of-pocket expenses.
Make sure to get an "out-the-door" figure that includes the total price and what you'll be paying per month. Oftentimes the price quote from a salesperson will exclude taxes, interest fees and other costs.
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