Buying a car can be expensive, but not nearly as expensive as the interest on a loan you get with a high interest rate. That’s something that Mark Benson, president of Honolulu Ford, knows well as a car sales expert. But unlike many in his industry, Benson isn’t just working to help his customers into a new car, he’s working to ensure they get the best possible deal.
Needless to say, Benson has a pretty straightforward motive. It is, after all, his job to get you into a new Ford. But he’s also trying to help his fellow Hawaiians.
Living in Honolulu more or less requires a car. The city has a relatively limited public transit system compared to other cities of its size, and if you live outside the city, you’re almost certainly getting on the roads and driving. Further complicating matters for car owners is the fact that everything sold on the islands is shipped in by boat, which adds substantially to the cost of goods, including cars. So for many Hawaiians, they’ve got two strikes already; higher costs and absolute necessity.
As a result, there are a lot of car loans in Hawaii that just aren’t good for the consumer. While the highest possible interest rate on the island is capped by law at 23.99%, there are many customers who are facing high rates, and might even be “upside down” on their loans. (That is, owing more in debt than the vehicle is worth.) That’s where Benson comes in.
Behind The Wheel
Benson’s standing offer to anybody who walks in the doors of his dealership is that he will at least try to get anyone who asks a better deal. The first step is to attempt to refinance the loan; especially for consumers who have improved their credit, they can often shave a few interest points off their loan. Thanks to strong connections with local banks and credit unions, Benson’s dealership is able to procure a variety of quotes consumers can use.
If refinancing isn’t possible, and in about half the cases it isn’t, Benson’s next step is to see if he can upgrade customers to a better car at a lower rate. It’s a bit surprising just how often this happens; despite having poor credit, many consumers do still qualify for a good used car at a lower rate. One family Benson worked with, for example, got a late-model used car at a monthly payment $150 less than what they were paying.
Even for consumers Benson can’t help, his advice is fairly simple: Wait a year, come back, and he’ll see what he can do. Even just a few months spent paying bills on time and updating your credit can do wonders for what can feel like an impossible hole to climb out of.
The lesson we can take away from Benson’s work in the community is that anybody can get a good deal on the car they need. No matter what your credit, your needs, or the car you want, you can get it if you know where to look.