Year-end deals: Free financing from Buick, Cadillac

Hands holding a toy car

Earlier this month, we told you how Ford and Lincoln dealers are trying to clear their lots of remaining 2012 vehicles by offering free financing.

Buick and Cadillac dealers also are using 0% financing as a way to get rid of inventory. These deals are available on many 2012 models, including the Buick Enclave and LaCrosse and the Cadillac SRX Crossover.

These interest-free loans are offered through the manufacturers' financing partner — Ally Bank — for up to 60 months, or up to 72 months on the 2012 Buick Enclave. Buyers need to take delivery from dealer stock by Jan. 2, 2013.

0% interest can save you a couple of thousand dollars over the life of the loan. In fact, free financing is the best discount you can get in most cases.

Here's an example: The sticker price of a 2012 Buick LaCrosse starts at $31,045, including delivery, processing and handling fees. Put down about 10%, and that leaves close to $28,000 to finance.

Borrowing that amount with a 60-month loan at the national average rate of 4.25%, the payments would be $519 a month.

With 0% financing, the monthly payments for the same loan would drop to $467 a month.

The more affordable financing saves you $52 monthly.

That’s not chump change, especially when you consider that it adds up to $3,120 over the entire five years.

Average new-car loan rates

Term Interest rate
36 months 4.10%
48 months 4.15%
60 months 4.24%

Buick also offers an additional bonus cash incentive of $500 on its 2012 LaCrosse models.

In addition, Buick offers consumer cash incentives of up to $2,000 for buyers who use regular financing. But if that rate is close to the national average of 4.25% APR, the 0% loan and smaller cash bonus would be the better deal, because the total savings would be more than $2,000.

Use our auto loan calculator to help you budget your monthly payment.

The big question is whether you can qualify for 0% financing.

Discount loans are always reserved for customers with at least average, if not good to excellent, credit.

There are no set rules for who qualifies for the best rates, but if your credit score is less than 670, don’t be surprised if you’re turned down.

These loans are available across the country, but details may vary depending on where you live. Check with your local dealer to get specific rules.

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