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Car Shopping Made Easy

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Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2013 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:34 am, Thu Dec 19, 2013.

(Family Features) The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year to purchase a new car. While driving one off the lot can be exhilarating, many consumers wonder if they bought the perfect car at the best price. For those looking to add a new automobile under their tree, there are a few factors to consider.

There is a little-known way for consumers to purchase the car of their dreams - through an automotive rewards card. A recent survey found that that only 5 percent of consumers have a rewards card with automotive benefits, meaning most Americans may not even be aware of this type of credit card reward. Of course, the best way to make sure you're getting the most for your money is by conducting a little research before ever starting the buying process.

After all, car buying is fun when you know exactly what you want, how much it will cost and how you're going to pay for it. Here are a few things to consider before you step on to a car lot.

Figure out what you can afford: Buying a new car can be one of the biggest purchases most people ever make. Some experts suggest capping your car payment at no more than 20 percent of your monthly take home pay. You can keep the cost down by looking for dealer sales and other savings options, like the GM Card from Capital One. The card allows users to accumulate earnings and redeem them towards the purchase or lease of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle. Consumers earn 5 percent on their first $5,000 worth of net card purchases annually and an unlimited 2 percent on all other purchases. Car buyers are offered value, simplicity and the ability to earn and use rewards with no expiration and no limits on how much they can apply toward their new GM automobile. To learn more about the new GM Card from Capital One, visit www.capitalone.com/gmcard.  

Narrow down your choices: Although a sporty two-seater might be the perfect choice for a single driver, families might be equally as thrilled with a brand new crossover or sedan. When looking for a car, write down what's important to you. Consider such things as seating capacity, gas mileage, safety and performance. Armed with this list, you'll be able to narrow down your choice to that perfect set of new wheels.

Get the best deal: Any major purchase requires keeping an eye on the bottom line. Follow the automotive section of your local newspaper or get on the Internet to find the best sales. You should also look for incentives and rebates to lower the car's cost. Another savvy money saving idea is to cash in the rewards you've accumulated on your credit card. For example, the GM Card from Capital One comes with no annual fee and offers no limits and no expirations on the rewards consumers can accumulate towards the purchase or lease of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle. According to Capital One's survey, nearly 60 percent of consumers who hold an automotive reward card have unused earnings. For of those who like to let rewards build up, and are in the market for a new car, using the GM Card from Capital One is a great way to earn cash rewards and add some extra savings for your down payment. Another perk to the GM Card from Capital One is that it also comes with World Elite MasterCard benefits ranging from upscale travel enhancements, to security and protection benefits, to VIP experiences and concierge services.

Explore your options: Few aspects of the car buying process are more fun than looking at all the bells and whistles. Luxurious upholstery, power locks, remote keyless entry and heated mirrors are some conveniences many new car owners wouldn't want to live without. Others may covet DVD systems, high-tech audio equipment, satellite radio, hands-free phones or navigation systems built into the dash. Make a list of your must-haves.

Before you step onto the showroom floor, it's important to know exactly what kind of car you need, how much you want to spend and what options you consider necessities. Armed with this knowledge, you can then negotiate the best price and ride off in the car or truck of your dreams.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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