Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

November 6, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. today advised Maryland consumers to think before rushing to take advantage of offers of "zero percent financing" from automakers, or from any other business. Many of the major auto manufacturers have been offering financing deals at zero percent.

"Certainly, getting a loan at zero percent can be an excellent deal, as long as you had planned to buy the car anyway and you got a good deal on the price," said Attorney General Curran. "It would not be a good deal if you were so excited at the thought of no-interest financing that you paid more overall."

The Attorney General also pointed out that "zero percent financing" offers may be available only to consumers with excellent credit, and may be available only for certain models, and for certain loan terms–for example, only for a 36-month loan term.

Curran advised consumers to do some homework before they go for a zero percent financing deal:

• Find out all details of the offer before going to the dealership: read the fine print in the ads, call the dealer and ask, or look at the manufacturer's website. That way you'll know upfront whether the offer is good for the model you want and the length of loan term you're interested in. Otherwise, you could invest a lot of time and energy in choosing a car and negotiating a price, and only then find that you can't get the special financing.

• If you don't have excellent credit, know that you may be turned down for the zero percent deal. You may want to check ahead of time with a credit union or bank to see what kind of loan rate you could qualify for, in case you don't like other financing terms the dealer offers.

• Know what specific model you want and the price you are willing to pay. As always, don't shop based solely on the monthly payment–shop by the total price.