Some purchase decisions take little to no time, such as choosing a candy bar at the checkout lane.
Major investments get consumers thinking and researching. But a large chunk of military consumers seem to be making big investments without exploring their options, according to a 2010 survey by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
The survey found that:
- Only 24 percent of military respondents shopped around for their mortgage
- Only 39 percent of military respondents shopped around for their car loan
- Only 58 percent of military respondents shopped around for their credit card
Service members and military families should consider their options and look for the best offer from the best company at the best time before making these kinds of investments.
Follow these tips to get better deals on these investments:
Thousands of military families turn to the VA home loan program every year. It’s full of borrower-friendly benefits, such as no money down and negotiable interest rates. Service members and veterans looking at home-financing options should consult a knowledgeable real estate agent. Compare interest rates, annual percentage rates (APR), down payments, insurance and closing costs as best you can before you make this major investment.
For military families trading in an automobile, things to compare for car loans include, but aren’t limited to:
- Trade-in value
- Cash rebates vs. lower interest rate
- Price of the car
- Length of the loan (avoid long loans, which are six or seven years)
- Prepayment penalties
A great concern for military families are credit cards, which can serve as either friend or foe in building a good credit score (link to some article on credit with ‘credit score’ as anchor text). Credit card offers come in the mail all the time, but don’t be quick to sign up for those. Things to be wary of include:
- High annual percentage rates (APR)
- Service fees
- Late payment penalties
- Credit limits
Generally, you want the lowest APR and highest credit limit. Credit card companies may target young consumers with offers that have an APR of 18 percent or higher. Co-signers with good credit can help you get low interest rates and high limits.
Regardless of which of these investments you’re considering, always do the legwork before making a decision. Otherwise you could rope yourself into a lengthy, financially draining investment.
Photo thanks to nickname under a Creative Commons license on Flickr.