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Truity Credit Union Blog > October 2019 > The Best Deals on Wheels for College Students

The Best Deals on Wheels for College Students

  • 10/8/2019

You’ve chosen your college, your major, and perhaps your roommate. Now it’s time to choose your car.

There are loads of factors at play when making this decision, though.

First, you’ll need to determine if it makes more sense for you to lease or to purchase a car.

Leasing offers flexibility. It’s the perfect choice for those who aren’t ready to commit to a car for long-term usage. It’s also more practical if you can’t afford to be solely responsible for a car’s maintenance and repairs. Monthly lease payments – even with repair warranties and liability waivers – also tend to be cheaper than payments on a purchased vehicle.

Of course, a lease won’t net you anything of value in the long run. When your lease is up, you’ll be out the thousands of dollars you spent “renting” the car and have nothing to show for it. Also, if you max out the annual mileage limit, you may end up paying a small fortune in fees.

Purchasing a car, on the other hand, is a commitment that pays off in the long run. If you can afford the down payment, monthly fee, and can foot the bill for any repairs (talk to your credit union about affordable coverage for mechanical breakdowns), it may be the choice for you. Remember, though, that cars depreciate as soon as you take them for their first spin. It’s also hard to predict which vehicle will serve you best a few years down the line.

If you do decide to purchase a vehicle, first determine exactly what you can afford. Don’t take on a monthly payment that’s going to squeeze your budget. Building and maintaining a good credit history is crucial – at every stage in life.

Be sure to do extensive research before signing on a car. As a cash-strapped college student, you need to make the most cost-effective decision possible – but that doesn’t mean buying the cheapest car you can find. Your vehicle should serve its purpose without draining your wallet on fuel costs and repairs.

Find your car

Carefully screen every car you’re considering for fuel efficiency, safety, warranty inclusion and coverage, and resale value.

To make your search a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the top six cars for the budget-wise college student. Each one is fuel-efficient, insurance-friendly, and is well-priced.

1) 2020 Toyota Corolla

Starting price: $19,600

Fuel economy: 31 city/28 highway

2) 2020 Mazda 3

Starting price: $21,500

Fuel economy: 27 city/36 highway

3) 2020 Honda Civic

Starting price: $19,550

Fuel economy: 25 city/36 highway

4) 2020 Hyundai Accent

Starting price: $15,195

Fuel economy: 33 city/41 highway

5) 2020 Nissan Versa

Starting price: $14,730

Fuel economy: 32 city/40 highway

6) 2020 Subaru Impreza

Starting price: $18,595

Fuel economy: 28 city/38 highway

Before heading to the dealer’s shop, it’s best to get pre-approved. This way, you’ll know exactly what you can afford, and you’ll be taken more seriously by the dealer. Be sure to check out AutoSMART to shop for your new car and get a pre-approval on your auto loan!