A zero percent loan is often advertised as one of the best deals you can get when you're buying a new car. You'll sometimes hear people call such financing "free money." It's not that exactly, but it's as close as you're likely to get.
And such loans aren't available to everyone: You typically have to have a credit score above 700 to qualify. If you can tick that box, you can get some significant savings: A buyer who gets a zero percent interest deal on a $25,000, 60-month loan would save $3,300 in interest charges, compared to a loan with the average 5 percent APR.
Lately, though, zero percent offers have become less plentiful. In August 2017, for example, 14.6 percent of car deals were financed with zero percent loans, according to Edmunds analysts. In August 2018, however, that number had dropped to 7.4 percent.
Rising interest rates are to blame. Zero percent loans are free money if you're the buyer, but not if you're the carmaker, which has to pick up the tab for such offers just as it does with traditional cash-back rebates.
Provided you can find and qualify for a zero percent car loan, it sounds like a no-brainer. But is a zero percent loan the best of deals? Are there any catches? And if you were planning on paying cash for your car, is it even worth considering?