a couple of people standing next to a row of cars

How You Can Do Better Than 0%

Like any great deal, a 0% dealer financing offer usually has a catch. The New York Times reports that only about 10% of consumers actually qualify for 0% interest loans, which require pristine credit—usually a FICO score of 720 or higher. And the loans typically are reserved for a limited number of models and are not available if you're shopping for a used car, which obviously tend to cost less than newer models.

These 0% loans often are paired with shorter-term loans, which cost you less overall but mean a higher monthly payment.

Before you head to the dealership, keep these points in mind:

Look at All Available Deals

Check for other offers, such as cash back. If you can get a rebate—which lowers the overall price of the car—paired with a low-interest loan, it may save you more than the 0% financing. So be sure to crunch the numbers. You can find a number of online calculators to help you, like this one.

Negotiate the Price

Before you get to the interest rate, finalize a sale price and stick to it. Once the sale price is established, then talk about financing.

Get Preapproved for a Loan at your Credit Union

Heading to the dealership with a firm offer in hand will give you a point of comparison and puts you in a stronger negotiating position. Credit unions, as not-for-profit financial cooperatives, offer competitive rates.