What's the Difference Between the CarsDirect Price vs. Invoice Price on a Car?

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


, - June 7, 2021

Shopping for a new car? There are often a lot of numbers listed on the window sticker for a vehicle, or when you're shopping online. But how do you know which ones to pay attention to?

We're breaking down the different prices you might encounter when you're shopping for a car, and letting you know how to use them to save money on your next auto loan.

Vehicle Pricing Basics

If you want to know what you're going to pay for a vehicle, you probably start by searching for different manufacturer and/or dealership websites, or you might simply go to your local auto mall to check out the selection. However you do it, you're bound to notice that there are a lot of numbers floating around in the car buying equation: MSRP, dealer pricing, cash on the hood, incentives, invoice pricing … the list goes on.

In order to know which price you should be paying attention to when car buying, it's important to know what they are. Here's a list of the different prices you may see:

  • Manufacturer suggested retail price, or MSRP, is the price the automaker suggests the vehicle be sold at in order for a dealership to profit.
  • The invoice price is the estimated cost a dealer can expect to pay for a car from the manufacturer, which doesn't include the actual cost of delivery. This can be a good jumping-off point for selling price negotiations in many cases.
  • The dealer cost is the actual cost to the dealership to acquire a vehicle from the automaker including taxes, surcharges, and fees.

How CarsDirect Pricing Is Different

The CarsDirect price is your guide to getting the most out of your research. What it shows is the average negotiated price of a particular vehicle in your specific area. This price is estimated using data from our extensive network of dealership partners and doesn't include taxes, surcharges, or other fees which could vary depending on your situation and the lender you're working with.

Though the invoice price of a car is typically easy to spot during online research, only CarsDirect includes a level of detail that gives you a more accurate estimate of the sticker price you're likely to encounter locally. It’s not a quote, just a way for you to avoid surprises at the dealership and allow you to plan your budget more accurately.

The CarsDirect price includes the base price found in your area of the vehicle you select, plus selected options, base destination charges, and any applicable rebates. Your final price may vary depending on the options, deals, and financing you select.

Be Prepared to Find Your Deal

There are many ways to get ready to take the plunge into vehicle ownership, but fortune often favors the prepared, so it's a good idea to gather all the documents and requirement stipulations you need to meet ahead of time.

The requirements you need to meet to finance a vehicle depend on many factors, but the biggest is typically your credit score, especially with traditional lenders such as banks, credit unions, and the captive lenders of some automakers. Because of this, the first step in getting the car you need is to know where your credit score stands, and what's on your credit reports.

Right now, checking your credit is easier than ever thanks to the expanded credit check option offered by www.annualcreditreport.com in conjunction with the three major national credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Due to the pandemic, consumers are now able to check their credit reports and scores for free once a week until April 2022.

This service allows you real-time monitoring of your credit situation so you can see where you're at and what you need to do to get your credit score where you want it to be. You can pinpoint your shortcomings, dispute accounts, keep track of credit progress, and make sure all your information is being reported correctly on a weekly basis. If you’ve been struggling with credit issues, now is the time to turn it back around with these free, weekly checkups.

Once you've determined whether you have good credit, bad credit, or something in between, you can focus on finding the right lender to work with. In general, if your credit score falls around 660 or below, you may need the help of a subprime lender to get into a vehicle.

If you're in this boat, you should be aware that you typically need to meet more lending requirements than a borrower with good credit.

The qualifications that usually need to be met to get a bad credit car loan include:

  • Proof of income
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of consistent employment
  • Proof of a working telephone
  • Five to eight personal references
  • A down payment requirement
  • A valid driver's license

You may need to meet more or fewer requirements depending on your situation. But remember, financing favors the prepared, so the more you're ready to prove to a lender that you've got the chops to pay off a car loan, the better.

Getting a Vehicle With the Right Lender

When you need help finding the right deal for your next auto financing experience, you've come to the right place. At CarsDirect, we have a nationwide network of special finance dealerships, and the know-how to help you find the best deals in your area. If you're interested in doing more research on new or used car deals in your area, check out our listing here.

If you've got poor credit and you're not sure where to start, we've got you covered, too. When it comes to bad credit car loans, you're most likely to find the deal you need by seeking out the financing first. For that, you can start by filling out our fast, free, zero-obligation auto loan request form, and we'll get right to work connecting you with a dealer near you.

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


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