Always Read the Fine Print*

*No seriously. Read it! It’s important.


The other day I got this postcard in the mail from a financial institution that shall remain anonymous. Like any good American consumer, I read the “$500 cash back” and thought, “Ooooo I want $500! Forget the credit union that pays my salary, I could refi there and get some cash!” Because seriously, who doesn’t want $500? That’s a pretty sweet deal.

You might have noticed that asterisk at the end of this enticing statement, however. If you flip this postcard over, that little star directs you to some information that might make that $500 a lot less exciting. The fine print to this advertisement let me know that if I bought or refinanced a car through this financial institution, I would get 1% cash back on the amount financed at a branch or via their online channel, not to exceed $500. What? In simpler terms, in order to get $500 I would have to buy a $50,000 car. If I were to refinance my vehicle I have now, I would only get $120. Whoomp whoomp.

Plus, the disclaimer goes on to say that if I were to finance my car through an indirect lender, I am only eligible for 0.5% cashback up to $250. So if the dealership helped me complete the financing process through this credit union or bank, I definitely can’t get the $500.

Don’t get me wrong, this still might be a great deal. I wouldn’t say no to $120. And potentially, the interest rate on this auto loan might be lower than the one I’m getting now. So it could save me money to look into refinancing with this financial institution. BUT, it is important to always read the disclaimer information. It might be in small, hard to find, and probably will be full of legal-ese, but it would be a let down to go to a branch thinking you’ll walk away with $500 cash and come out with a lot less.

Advertisements are designed to make what they’re selling as appealing as possible. The headlines, like this one, are designed to get your attention and make you buy the product. But reading the whole ad, including that disclaimer, will give you a better picture of what you’re really buying. It might make you say, “Nah this auto loan isn’t for me” or it could just give you enough info to say, “That still sounds good! I’ll do it!” So always take a look at that fine print.

I can’t finish this blog without also mentioning that if you also got this flier in the mail and are now getting an auto loan through this wonderful financial institution, you should use that cash back money towards your first payment! You spent $50,000. Don’t make it $50,500. Instead of cash you can use on pizza or clothes, think of that cash back as a $500 discount on your car.*

*Unless you use the $500 to buy me front row seats to One Direction. Then that would be money well-spent.


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