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

Illustration of car going under a sign that says

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 cash you need.* American taxpayers averaged around $3,000 in tax refunds over the past few years, according to the IRS.

If you 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 two to three weeks 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 get pre-qualified online ahead of time – with no hit to your credit score – through Drive® to help find the car that fits you.
  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 only and should not be construed as legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. Please consult a tax professional for any tax-related questions.

** The referenced calculator is meant for educational and illustrative purposes only. The calculator estimates monthly payments solely based on the information you provide. We do not guarantee the availability of the illustrated terms or your eligibility for any product referenced. The estimated monthly payments generated from the calculator do not constitute a finance offer.

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