How to turn your tax refund into your next car: Step-by-step guide*

If you’ve been in the market for a new car, but have struggled to come up with a sizeable down payment, tax season may provide you with the windfall of cash you need.* American taxpayers have averaged close to $3,200 in tax refunds over the past few years, according to the IRS.

Buying a car in 2023 is somewhat more competitive than in the past, but the basic steps to car ownership are the same. Don’t know where to begin? We’ve broken down the car buying process into seven easy steps.

  1. Get your tax refund in hand – This is where the fun (and savings) starts. The IRS aims to send refunds within 21 days of filing if you do so electronically and choose the direct deposit option.
  2. Calculate your budget – Once you know the exact amount of your tax refund, coupled with any money you’ve already set aside, you’ll be able to determine how much you can afford to spend. Use our online calculator to see what your potential monthly payments will be based on your down payment, term and APR.
  3. Consider down payment versus monthly payment – Decide whether it makes sense to apply more money toward your down payment (which may ultimately make your monthly payments smaller) or using it to cover monthly payments.
  4. Identify potential vehicles – With car inventory rebounding, it’s still important to decide which features are nice to have and which are necessary. Search dealer and used car websites to identify potential vehicles. New or used, economy or luxury, basic model or loaded with options – there are a lot of choices out there!
  5. Arrange financing – Work with the finance manager at the dealership to request Santander Consumer USA financing or apply online ahead of time if you’re interested in an Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, FIAT®, Jeep®, Ram or Wagoneer.
  6. Visit dealers – Now the fun shifts into high gear. It’s time to get behind the wheel and take some cars for a test drive. Don’t be afraid to visit multiple dealers to find the car that best fits your needs. For starters you can visit one of the 14,000 plus dealers who work with Santander Consumer USA.
  7. Take off in your new car – Nothing compares to the smell of a new vehicle. Congratulations! You’re done and the car is yours. Let the adventures and memory making begin!

*These statements are informational suggestions only and should not be construed as legal, accounting or professional advice, nor are they intended as a substitute for legal or professional guidance. Please consult a tax professional.

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