Monthly Archives: August 2012

Are You Paying Too Much for Auto Insurance?

At Approved Loan Store, we want to make sure our customers get the best possible deal on an auto loan, but there are more costs to owning a car than just the loan payments. There is the cost of gas, general maintenance, and of course, insurance. We want to help our customers save on these other car costs, so when we saw these tips for lowering car insurance costs over at Fox Business, we wanted to share them with our readers. Please remember that discounts and terms of those discounts vary between insurance companies, so ask your insurance company if these discounts are applicable.

If You Are in a Committed Relationship…
Married couples and unmarried committed gay couples can often receive discounts, especially if they are insuring multiple vehicles.

If You Are a College Student…
Full-time students can receive a discount. Sometimes the discount is based on grade point average, but that isn’t always the case.

If You Installed a Car Alarm…
Many insurance companies will offer a discount for installing car alarms, fuel or ignition cutoff switches, vehicle identification number engravings, or car tracking systems.

If You Switched to Paperless…
So many insurance companies want to brag about going green, and they give incentives to customers for e-mail communication instead of paper mailings. Also, if you are thinking about switching to a hybrid, some car insurance companies are giving as much as a 10 percent discount.

If You Were in a Fraternity/Sorority…
Former frat brothers and sorority sisters can get up to an 8 percent discount. The reasoning is that individuals involved in these kinds of groups are more responsible and less likely to be reckless drivers.

If You Served Your Country…
Many companies want to ease the financial burden of those who have served in the armed forces, and car insurance companies are no exception. Some offer a 15 percent discount when the driver is home in the states and up to 80 percent when they are deployed.

If You Have Good Credit…
This is a tip we have mentioned before, but it bears repeating. By improving your credit, you can save money on so many things including car insurance.

If You Are a Teacher/Doctor/Police Officer/ Self-Employed…
There are numerous discounts based on profession, and it isn’t just for servicemembers. Again, check with your insurance company because the variety of professions included is shocking.

If You Are a Loyal Customer…
Have you been with your insurance company for 5 years? 10 years? If so, you might be eligible for a customer loyalty discount.

Are you taking advantage of all of these discounts? Did we miss any lesser-known discounts? Leave a comment below, and tell us what discounts you are taking advantage of with your insurance!

Looking for a new or used car? Concerned that your credit is holding you back? Approved Loan Store wants to help you! Fill out our secure online auto loan application here, and keep up with the latest news and auto buying tips by liking Approved Loan Store on Facebook, following Approved Loan Store on Twitter, and subscribing to Approved Loan Store on YouTube!


When Customers Complain Online, Car Companies Listen

Every day, disgruntled consumers take to the internet to complain about everything under the sun. From the recent hilarious Bic Pens for Women debacle to the heartbreaking story of Katie Fisher and Progressive car insurance, American consumers have no trouble expressing their uncensored feelings online. What they might not know, though, is that when it comes to car forums and review sites, the big dogs of the American auto industry are paying attention.

First reported by the Detroit News, car companies are starting to use internet outreach to contact upset customers and resolve their problems. Chrysler’s online customer service unit has contacted almost a half-million customers in the past year alone. They’ve also engaged in online forums and auto news and review websites, posting over 3,000 messages. GM has similarly started their own customer service unit that concentrates on their online outreach across over 100 online forums. So far, the new online outreach has been very successful for both companies. Pietro Gorlier, president of Mopar brand service, parts, and customer care at Fiat-Chrysler, had a lot of praise for the online community because, as he put it, “[T]hat is where the enthusiast communities meet.”

At Approved Loan Store, we have striven from the very beginning to provide many outlets for our customers to connect with us online and provide feedback. It is one of the reasons why we have been so successful. We have listened to what people want in their car buying experience and made it easier from filling out the application to getting the keys to a new or used car. Anyone can go to our website and see the hundreds of customer testimonials, and we want car buyers to like Approved Loan Store on Facebook, follow Approved Loan Store on Twitter, or subscribe to Approved Loan Store on YouTube to get the latest auto news. The big dogs like Chrysler and GM might be just now getting on-board with social media, but at Approved Loan Store, we created a better car buying experience from the beginning by listening to you!


Cedar Rapids Boy Steals Family Car, Crashes 4 Blocks Away

There is a phase that a lot of young kids go through where they threaten to run away from home. They pack up their backpacks with a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a beloved stuffed animal, and their Nintendo DS, but usually that is as far as it goes. A 7-year-old in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, however, decided to take it a huge step forward and steal his mom’s car for a quick getaway.

Last Saturday at around 9 a.m., the unnamed boy took his mother’s car keys and drove down 33rd Street to Edgewood Parkway. On a typical day, this area of Cedar Rapids is fairly busy with a movie theater, numerous restaurants, and a mall close by. Fortunately, he only got about a block down Edgewood before he crashed the car between a bank and a Wendy’s restaurant, and despite the state of the car, he did not sustain any serious injuries.

As of publication, it is uncertain what sort of punishment the boy will receive. He has been cited for a laundry list of violations and misdemeanors including driving without a license, failure to maintain control, hit-and-run, and no insurance. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that he has tried to get the car from his mom. Police Capt. Bernie Walther told ABC affiliate KCRG, “He has grabbed her keys before and tried to do this, but this is as far as he’s ever gotten.”

At Approved Loan Store, we know that our customers aren’t always looking for a new car under the best of circumstances. Whether it is a challenging credit situation, a recent car accident, or a tot taking the family car for a joyride, we want to make the car buying process as easy as possible. If you’re looking to get into a new or used car, fill out our secure online auto loan application here, and get the latest auto and credit news by liking Approved Loan Store on Facebook, following Approved Loan Store on Twitter, and subscribing to Approved Loan Store on YouTube.


Ad Campaign Reflects Reality of Drunk Driving

From the time I entered grade school, one of the biggest messages that was drilled into my head was to never, ever drink and drive. Years before I could even get my license, I knew that drinking and driving was a terrible idea because I could be arrested or worse cause a fatal accident. Even so, there were over 1.41 million drivers arrested in 2010 for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For whatever reason, many drivers (especially young drivers) still don’t comprehend the danger they are putting themselves and other drivers in when they drink and won’t give up their car keys. An unusual new campaign, however, is hoping to stop drunk driving. They aren’t using the usual scare tactics of showing totaled cars or dead bodies. Instead, they are simply putting up a mirror and letting bar patrons reflect on what they see staring back.

The ad campaign, conceived by the agency behind the Conan O’Brien American Express commercial and Scrabble’s Block Project, was tested out at a packed bar in Brazil. For the campaign, they built a “mirror” which was actually a TV screen with a hidden camera, and they put the video on a delay of about 2-3 seconds. They placed the “mirror” in the space between the men’s and women’s restrooms, so anyone walking into the bathroom would see it. It wasn’t long before the mirror started getting a lot of attention. Some people leaned side-to-side or waved at the mirror, while others tried dramatic turns or dancing. After the bar patrons had a good laugh, though, a note appeared in the corner of the screen reading, “This is how slow your reflexes are after only a few drinks.” The effect was immediate. Giggling twenty-somethings stopped cold, their faces turning from carefree to concerned or upset. Many left their drinks next to the mirror or on the nearby bar counter.

You can watch a video of the campaign here:

Personally, I am a huge fan of this campaign. If I had been in the bar that evening, I would have thought that the mirror was a silly high-tech gadget meant to impress their patrons. I never would have guessed that it was meant to deter drunk driving. In fact, I probably would have been one of the people messing around with the mirror with my friends. Hopefully the Drunk Mirror campaign will make its way to the U.S. soon because I think it could be very effective, particularly in big cities like New York City.

Readers, we want to hear from you! What do you think of the Drunk Mirror campaign? Do you think it would work on American bar patrons, and would it be more effective than traditional PSAs? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Looking to get into a new or used car? Approved Loan Store can help! Fill out our secure online auto loan application here. Also, get the latest auto and credit news by liking Approved Loan Store on Facebook, following Approved Loan Store on Twitter, and subscribing to Approved Loan Store on YouTube.

Survey: Negotiating Price, Financing Worst Part of Buying a Car

A new survey has confirmed what we over at Approved Loan Store already know: Car shoppers hate haggling over price.

The survey asked 2,000 respondents to list steps in the car buying process from the most pleasant part to the least pleasant part. They could choose from researching vehicles make and models, shopping and test-driving, arranging/negotiating financing, and negotiating the price of the car. Overwhelmingly, survey subjects chose negotiating the price of the car as the least pleasant step in the car buying process followed closely by negotiating financing.

At Approved Loan Store, we know that car buyers hate haggling over price and financing, and we are constantly striving to make the process more streamlined and better for our customers.

Step 1: Fill out our secure online auto loan application here.

Step 2: You will be contacted by an Approved Loan Store representative who will schedule an appointment with the Approved Loan Store dealership closest to you.

Step 3: Meet with an Approved Loan Store Special Finance Representative who will work with you and get the best possible price and financing options.

Our network of dealerships has helped customers all around the tri-state area get into great cars at affordable terms. Hundreds of customers have given written and video testimonials raving about their experience with Approved Loan Store, and we know that one of the reasons is because our process makes pricing and financing easier. At other dealerships, pricing and financing might be the stuff of nightmares, but with Approved Loan Store, financing a car is as simple as 1-2-3.

Want to connect with Approved Loan Store online? Like Approved Loan Store on Facebook, follow Approved Loan Store on Twitter, and subscribe to Approved Loan Store on YouTube to get the latest auto news and updates from Approved Loan Store.


Have Celebrity Car Endorsements Gone Too Far? Batman Reviews Hyundai i30

These days, every car manufacturer is looking for a celebrity to promote their latest, hottest models. Justin Bieber has his chrome Fisker Karma, Charlie Sheen drove a FIAT 500 Abarth through his house in FIAT’s “House Arrest” commercial, and Jerry Seinfeld tried to get his hands on an Acura NSX in last year’s Super Bowl commercial. Recombu Cars, a new source for independent car news and reviews, is taking a new route with the celebrity endorsement and soliciting the opinions of fictional characters.

Their first (and hopefully not last) “celebrity” auto critic is none other than Bruce Wayne’s famous alter-ego, Batman. Recombu Cars’ Rory Reid was filming a typical video review of the Hyundai i30 in Central London when his review was hijacked by the caped crusader. To say that Batman was initially underwhelmed by the i30 is an understatement. When Reid praised the i30’s spacious interior with plenty of room for families, Batman growled, “My parents are dead.”

By the end of the review, though, Batman had softened to the i30 and even begrudgingly asked if it came in black. I still doubt that Batman will pick up the i30 considering how much trouble he had with the voice-activated entertainment center. “Play CD…play CD…swear to CD!”

You can watch the full review below:

At Approved Loan Store, we’re not so sure we would take Batman’s advice in picking out a new car, but our special finance representatives are ready and willing to help you, whether you have a year and model in mind or if you are just starting your car search. Fill out our secure online auto loan application here to get started, and keep up with the latest auto news by liking Approved Loan Store on Facebook, following Approved Loan Store on Twitter, and subscribing to Approved Loan Store on YouTube!

Maritz Research: Over 1 in 10 Car Buyers Skip Test Drive

Once upon a time, car shopping looked very different than it does now. Car buyers would read magazines and consumer reports, go into several dealerships, and test drive different models until they found “the one.” The internet has changed the car buying process with online reviews for dealerships and models as well as online auto loan services like Approved Loan Store. Aside from test drives and signing the deal, consumers can pretty much go through their entire car shopping experience before they even set foot in the dealership.

For the most part, we at Approved Loan Store like this development. We are constantly striving to make the car buying process simple, even for consumers with difficult credit situations. Unfortunately, some consumers are cutting out an important step in the car buying process: the test drive. A recent study from Maritz Research shows that 11.4 percent of car buyers in 2012 did not take a test drive before purchasing the car. Out of the buyers who did take a test drive, nearly 10 percent scheduled the test drive online.

What does this mean? Well, over 1 in 10 consumers relied entirely on online reviews, word-of-mouth, or previous experience with the car such as a rental. They didn’t get behind the wheel of the car before buying it. While we are all for a quick-and-easy car buying experience, we at Approved Loan Store find this trend a bit distressing. We would rather see car buyers trying a vehicle out instead of completely relying on someone else’s word. Besides that, different drivers have different needs, and that is why a test drive is so essential. A mini-van or SUV might seem huge to a single person or a couple, but a family with young children might notice after a test drive that the back seat on the particular model doesn’t fit comfortably with several car seats and a diaper bag. By skipping the test drive, a car buyer could end up paying for the wrong car.

With Approved Loan Store, we want to get you into the car that is right for you at terms you can afford!  Fill out our secure online auto loan application here, and come in to take a test drive and meet with our special finance representative! Also, you can keep up with the latest auto news by liking Approved Loan Store on Facebook, following Approved Loan Store on Twitter, and subscribing to Approved Loan Store on YouTube!


Driver Leaves Maserati Running in Times Square, Surprised When It Gets Stolen

Note to Maserati owners: If you don’t want your car stolen, don’t leave it unlocked with the engine running in the middle of Times Square.

Chadwick Lange was new to the city, just moving to Manhattan from Florida. According to his account of the events, he saw a friend of his around the intersection of 47th Street and Broadway, so he pulled over his 2008 Maserati Gran Turismo to say hello. He must not have planned on staying long because he left the keys in the ignition and the engine running.

Two strangers approached Lange and asked if they could take some pictures of his Maserati. He obliged and went back to the conversation with his friend. After the two strangers took a few pictures, one of them jumped into the front seat and drove off, slowing down only to let his friend jump in the passenger side further down the street.

So far, there has been no sign of the car or the two thieves, but it seems like this crime could have been prevented with a little common sense. Most people know not to leave a car unattended with the keys still in the ignition, much less a Maserati, but some have speculated that Lange wasn’t just pulling over for a chat. A fact that has gotten buried underneath the shocking stupidity is that Lange’s car was stolen at 4:30 in the morning. He just happened to be driving around at 4:30 in the morning and ran into his friend (*cough* DEALER *cough*), and he decided that he should stop for a chat (*cough* FIX *cough). Well, whatever reason Lange decided to pull over that day, whether for a fix or for a conversation, I hope it was really, really good.

Need a new car? Approved Loan Store wants to help you! Bad credit, no credit, car got stolen in Times Square, we want to get you into a new or used car at terms you can afford! Fill out our secure auto loan application here, and keep up with the latest auto news by liking Approved Loan Store on Facebook, following Approved Loan Store on Twitter, and subscribing to Approved Loan Store on YouTube!

War Veterans Restore Classic Cars, Rehabilitate Bodies and Souls

For soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, the transition from military service to civilian life is a tough road both physically and psychologically. These difficulties are compounded for soldiers who sustained major injuries and have to re-enter civilian life with a physical handicap. In San Antonio, an auto garage has stepped up and is taking an active role in helping America’s veterans. Their goal? Restoring classic cars.

Automotivation was founded in 2006 by Operation Comfort, a non-profit organization dedicated to caring for wounded troops. Operation Comfort coordinate sports programs, woodworking classes, financial assistance/education programs, and car restoration programs for soldiers rehabilitating at the Brooke Army Medical Center. These programs give the soldiers joy and purpose in an otherwise difficult time, and it also provides a social outlet where soldiers can bond over a common interest.

Since 2006, Automotivation has made annual trips to the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas to show off their work. Thanks to generous donors, they have had plenty of work to show off. In the past few years, Automotivation has purchased and restored a 1984 Ford Bronco and a 1966 Cobra Kit Car. Their progress was documented on their website and can be seen here.

Besides the social aspect of the program, Automotivation’s organizers want to teach these soldiers practical skills that they can use in their professional lives. Returning soldiers can often have trouble finding work, and learning the ins and outs of a car can open new job opportunities to them. On the Operation Comfort website, one of the program’s organizers wrote, “Our hope is that these young men and women will find that they love working on cars and decide to go into the Automotive Industry.”

If you would like to donate to this fine organization, follow the link here. Also you can keep up with the latest auto news by liking Approved Loan Store on Facebook, following Approved Loan Store on Twitter, and subscribing to Approved Loan Store on YouTube.

Auto Loan: New FICO 8 Unnecessarily Complicates Credit Score

Maintaining a good credit score is a tough task that takes time, attention, and diligence on the part of the consumer. Most Americans don’t even know their credit score, much less what it means or how it is calculated. Consumer groups and government agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are trying to demystify credit reports and credit scores for the general public, but unfortunately, the credit reporting industry is, perhaps intentionally, making credit scores more confusing.

FICO scores have been the credit industry standard for years, ranging from 300 up to 850. When lenders talk about your credit score, it is likely they are referring to your FICO score. Recently, the Fair Isaac Corporation, which produces the FICO score, touted that the number of consumers in the top tier of credit scores has increased, and the number in the bottom tier has decreased. This sounds like really great news until Ann Carrns of the New York Times took a closer look.

As it turns out, the numbers they were touting were not based on the FICO score but rather a new-and-improved FICO score, FICO 8. FICO 8 is a new formula used to calculate that all-important credit score which can mean the difference between getting approved for a higher amount on a car loan or getting a lower interest rate. Fair Isaac Corporation will disclose that over 76,000 creditors are using FICO 8, but they would not say how many creditors are using the older FICO score model or how a consumer can find out which model a particular creditor is using. Even more frustrating, the FICO 8 credit score is not available for purchase from Fair Isaac Corporation, so consumers are left in the dark as far as their FICO 8 score is concerned.

I’ve been writing about the credit industry and how it relates to the auto industry for a while now, and this is one of the most ridiculous stories I have ever heard. Through this blog, we are trying to simplify the car buying process and give our readers the most basic information that every consumer needs to know to improve their credit and get the best rates on an auto loan. When it comes to credit scores, we often tell people to stick with the original and the industry standard, their FICO score. Now, even that most basic tip has been complicated with the old model FICO score vs. the FICO 8 model. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has promised that they will be closely monitoring the credit reporting industry, and I sincerely hope that they crack down on this nonsense. One last message to FICO: Your actions are confusing consumers and making credit way too complicated. Please stop.

No matter if you have good credit, bad credit, or no credit, Approved Loan Store wants to help you get into the car you want at terms you can afford! Fill out our secure online auto loan application here, and keep up with the latest auto news and consumer alerts by liking Approved Loan Store on Facebook, following Approved Loan Store on Twitter, and subscribing to Approved Loan Store on YouTube!