Car Rental Houston: Save up to 60% #car #warehouse


#cheap rentals
#

Houston Rental Cars

A rental car is the most appropriate choice of transportation in a city built on the oil business. Houston is a rather spread-out city and the opportunity to rent a car at the airport should not be passed by. And, besides, a day trip by rental car to Galveston provides welcome relief on summer days. Whether you choose to pick up your rental car at the airport or from one of the many car rental companies in town, you will find some useful information below to help you get the right rental car for the right price.

Location, location, location

If you’re arriving in Houston by plane, you may wish to pick up your rental car from one of the many car rental companies at the airport. Houston Intercontinental (IAH) is serviced by Advantage. Alamo. Avis. Budget. Dollar. Enterprise. Hertz. National. and Thrifty from a single, central location at its Consolidated Rental Car Facility. To get there, follow the Rental Car signage at your arriving terminal and look for the white and maroon buses marked Rental Car Shuttle. All of these car rental companies also have pick-up counters at Houston’s Hobby airport. Expedia can also show you a map of the nearest car rental locations to your hotel and the rental cars they carry. (And keep in mind that off-airport car rentals are often cheaper than at the airport, even from the same car rental company.)

Picking the rental car that’s right for you

Expedia offers a choice of standard rental cars, luxury autos, minivans, and SUVs to meet nearly every need. If you need any special equipment, like a child seat, let us know and we will forward your request on to the rental car company. And what’s more, when you choose to hire a car (as the British say) from one of our car rental partners* in Houston, you’ll be dealing with a rental car company that has made a special commitment to provide Expedia customers with great customer service, a wide choice of top quality cars, and competitive total pricing.

Unlike some other online travel sites that show you a cheap discount rate for your car rental when you’re shopping and then heap on taxes and fees when it comes time to pay, Expedia shows you the final price up front. What you see is what you pay.

*Advantage Rent-A-Car, Dollar Rent A Car, Enterprise, Hertz, and Thrifty


Save On Auto Transport Companies- Car Transport Companies #repossed #cars #for #sale


#car shipping companies
#

Auto Transport Companies

Auto transport companies really are the most efficient and hassle-free way to ship your vehicle, whether it be  motorcycle shipping. car, a boat or RV. In any circumstance, utilizing the services provided by vehicle transport companies will make your life easier. Whether you are moving your vehicle to your new home or getting a car to a friend across the country it really is easier to just ship it with reliable car transport companies.

There are a few different methods you can use to ship your vehicle, and not all companies will offer every method. You can ship your vehicle with the normal method; by truck, or if that isn’t the most convenient for you there are other methods available. Trains and boats are also available to ship your car if you would like to explore other options. The standard shipping method of most vehicle transport companies, by truck, is often the least expensive and most efficient way to ship your car. When shipping by boat often extra fees are involved and when using a train you often must physically be with your vehicle on its journey which can be troublesome to manage. Trucks can ship your vehicle in most situations right from your driveway with little to no work done by you.

There is also two different ways to go about shipping your vehicle when communicating with a shipper; directly with a trucking company or through a broker. Dealing directly with a trucking company occasionally can be tedious because often they already have set schedules and fitting in another might not be their first priority.  When using a broker you have access to a large number of companies to ship your vehicle and your broker will help you get the most competitive price possible. Brokers also make sure to choose only the best car shipping companies, those that meet all safety, government and state standards.  Brokers are a large reason why shipping your vehicle is now such an easy task. These car transport companies coordinate the date, time and location of both the pickup and drop off of your vehicle, doing all the difficult work for you.

Finding The Right One For You

Finding the right company to move your vehicle from one location to another can be a difficult process. There are many things to consider when making a final choice and each different thing can be more or less important to each individual depending on what type of car they want moved, the distance and things of that nature. Finding the right company that are able to meet all your specific needs is important since some of them may only do short distance moves, some may not be able to handle larger vehicles or have the type of equipment to move a high performance or classic car.

Finding the right  company to meet your needs is very important as it can mean the difference between a simple, stress free experience and a difficult, aggravating one. The right car transport companies will be able to help you with virtually every step of the process, from planning out the trip to performing the actual move and even dealing with any potential issues that come up during the entire process. Once you get a list of several different companies, it is important to provide them with all the information about your vehicle and where it needs to be transported to. This will allow them to give you an accurate quote and also provide many details about how long it will take to ship the car.

Providing the shipping service with the exact details of your car is important because it can affect many things, some of which you might not even think of. When giving them information, make sure you include the make and model of your car along with the year. It is absolutely critical that you also include any aftermarket customizations you have made to your car, especially your car’s exterior, since that can potentially be a concern when loading and unloading the car from whatever truck they use. Some services might not even accept cars with aftermarket add-ons and others may also charge an additional fee. So it’s very important that you provide these types of details.

Services Offered By Different Car Transport Companies

When searching for an auto shipper to move your car, it is important to ask ahead of time what types of shipping trucks they offer. The most common options are regular tow trucks, flat bed trucks, enclosed trucks and multi-car movers. Each of these types has its own advantages and disadvantages and what you’ll want depends greatly on the type and value of car you want moved. It also is affected by the distance you want your vehicle moved and any delivery deadlines you might have.

Some services will only offer one or two of the different truck types, so getting this information ahead of time is critical to ensure you make the right choice. Some car shipping companies may have all the different types of vehicles available but not at every location, so they may need some time to schedule your desired method of shipping. For this reason, it is wise to start looking for a good vehicle shipping company as soon as you know you’re going to need these types of services. Scheduling your move well in advance can also sometimes get you a discount, since they can make their schedules ahead of time to optimize their trips.

Most services are easy to work with and are experts in their field because they have done it so much. Their experience allows them to see any potential problems well in advance and work with you to avoid them. They are also able to make good suggestions on what types of services you will need based on your specific car and situation. Using a car transport service is really worth the money compared to any potential savings from trying to move it yourself by either towing it behind a moving truck or having someone drive it to your new location for you. The safety and security associated with a good, reputable auto transport company is worth the investment all on its own. Security is, of course, very important when moving any high value items and vehicles are perfect examples of this.

Many auto transport services frequently have to move very expensive, performance or classic cars for either car shows, sales or their owner moving. They are able to help get insurance for the move just in case your vehicle is damaged or even stolen during the move. Damage and theft is very uncommon for these experienced companies, but when dealing with such high dollar items like cars it is always better to be safe than sorry.  A typical insurance policy which only covers the actual move of your car is quite inexpensive, especially when purchased through the company itself. Many companies actually offer the guarantee or insurance within their own company. This can be a nice benefit since it avoids some of the potential paper work that comes with getting a third party insurance company involved.

Choosing the right company to provide your shipping services is one of the most important items to consider when having your vehicle moved. Different companies are able to provide vastly different services and at a significant cost difference depending on their experience, different options chosen for the move and if your destination is on one of their normal shipping routes. The right auto shipping company can truly make a huge difference in the success or apparent failure of any vehicle move. While most companies are able to provide at least basic services for any type of car, it’s important to make sure you get the perfect company for your move or you may be left regretting the experience. We have the experience and skill to carry out your shipment smoothly. Fill out a quote form today to get started!

Call 1-800-452-2880 or fill out the form at the top of the page to get a FREE quote today!


5 Safety Features That Can Save You Money on Car Insurance #car #breakdown #cover


#insurance car
#

5 Safety Features That Can Save You Money on Car Insurance

2 days ago

NerdWallet Providing clarity for all of life’s financial decisions.

By Barbara Marquand All sorts of high-tech safety equipment is available on today’s new cars, from systems that automatically apply the brakes if you’re in danger of crashing to rear-view cameras that let you see obstructions behind your car.

But in most cases, the really cool stuff is too new to score car insurance discounts. The safety features that usually qualify have been around for decades, such as anti-lock brakes.

NerdWallet looked at car-safety discounts available from the 10 largest insurance companies. Only Liberty Mutual says it offers discounts for newer innovations, including:

  • Adaptive cruise control. This monitors traffic conditions and adjusts speed by controlling the throttle and brakes to keep the car a safe distance from the vehicle in front of it.
  • Lane-departure warning systems. These use cameras to track the car’s position and alert the driver if the vehicle drifts out of the lane.
  • Collision-avoidance systems. These use sensors to recognize when a collision may happen, such as the vehicle skidding or approaching the car ahead too quickly. The systems may apply the brakes or take other actions to protect the driver and passengers.

[Buying a new car? Comparison shopping can save you hundreds of dollars. Find low rates with NerdWallet’s Car Insurance Comparison Tool .]

Most car insurance companies don’t offer discounts until safety technology has proven over many years to reduce insurance claims. Here are the safety features most likely to qualify you for a car insurance discount.

1. Anti-lock brakes Years ago drivers were instructed to “pump the brakes” if the vehicle was skidding, because a locked-up wheel is less effective at bringing the car under control than a wheel that is rotating slowly.

That advice went by the wayside with the development of anti-lock braking systems, which began appearing on high-end vehicles in the 1970s and was used on many models by the late 1980s, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As of the 2012 model year, the federal government requires automakers to include anti-lock brakes as part of the standard equipment on all passenger vehicles.

Discounts for anti-lock brakes vary. Allstate offers a 10% discount, for instance, and 21st Century Insurance offers a 5% one.

Florida, New Jersey and New York require insurers to give a discount for anti-lock brakes.

2. Air bags Air bags cushion the blow for people during a crash. Frontal air bags have been required in all new passenger vehicles since the 1999 model year. Side air bags also are included as standard equipment on almost all cars to meet federal side-protection requirements, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Some vehicles feature inflatable safety belts or rear-window curtain air bags to protect passengers in the back seat.

Car insurance discounts generally increase with the number of air bags. Geico, for instance, offers up to 25% off for driver-side air bags and up to 40% off for full front-seat air bags. The discount applies to medical payments or personal injury protection coverage.

Esurance offers a discount of 2% to 33% on medical payments coverage or personal injury protection, depending on the state and the number of safety features.

3. Daytime running lights Daytime running lights are headlights that come on automatically when the car starts. They help prevent daytime head-on and front-corner collisions. Automakers began offering daytime running lights in 1995, and now they’re a standard feature on many vehicles.

Some insurers offer a small discount. Geico says you can save 1%, for instance, on certain coverage.

4. Electronic stability control Electronic stability control systems help prevent vehicles from skidding out of control and rolling over when drivers have to steer hard or turn on slippery roads. The technology uses sensors and a computer to monitor how well the vehicle responds to steering and then automatically applies the brakes to keep the car under control.

The systems have been required on all cars, SUVs, pickups and minivans since the 2012 model year.

Insurers that offer a discount for electronic stability control typically apply it to collision coverage. Insurance claims payouts for collision coverage are about 15% lower for vehicles with electronic stability control versus those without it, according to an analysis by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

5. Automatic seat belts Motorized seat belts, which were often paired with manual lap belts, fastened automatically when the car was started or the door closed. Many automakers installed them to meet a federal requirement for vehicles to have automatic restraints, either motorized seat belts or air bags, from the 1990 model year onward. Air bags eventually replaced motorized seat belts, but many insurers still give the same discount for automatic seat belts as they give for air bags. Your car likely does not have automatic seat belts if it’s a 1998 model year or later.

The bottom line Discounts for safety features not only vary by insurance company, they also vary by state. An insurer may offer a discount in some states but not others, or the percentage may differ from state to state.

Ask your insurance representative about money-saving deals. But when shopping for insurance keep in mind that a company advertising large discounts may still not offer the lowest-cost coverage in the final tally. NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool can help you look for coverage to fit your needs and budget.

Image via iStock.


Comprehensive Insurance Quotes – Save Big on Auto Insurance #lease #car


#comprehensive car insurance comparison
#

Comprehensive Insurance

Should You Buy Comprehensive Insurance?

In most states, comprehensive insurance is not an option for leased or brand new vehicles, as the lender will require comprehensive insurance coverage as part of the sale or lease contract. Comprehensive insurance on older vehicles requires careful consideration of the pros and cons before buying an auto insurance policy.  Purchasing comprehensive coverage in addition to liability coverage means you will pay a higher monthly premium, but it also has many benefits that are worth considering.

Auto Insurance Basics

Liability insurance  covers injury to you or other injured persons in an accident, and a minimum amount of this type of auto insurance coverage is required in all states. Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website will provide details on the necessary requirements. Full coverage insurance covers damage to your vehicle, and is your protection against monetary loss should you be involved in an accident. Full coverage insurance is a combination of two commons types of physical damage coverage: collision and comprehensive.

  • Collision insurance  covers damage to your car when it hits or is hit by another vehicle or object. Coverage pays the costs to repair or replace your vehicle less a deductible you choose. For example, if you choose a deductible of $1,000 and your car sustains damages totaling $2,500, you pay $1,000 and your insurance company pays $1,500.  It is recommended to pay as high a deductible as you can comfortably afford in order to lower your monthly premiums.
  •  Comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle, and in some cases other vehicles you may be driving, for damages due to incidents other than collision. Covered incidences include theft, fire, flood damage or animals (i.e. you hit a deer). Like collision, comprehensive coverage pays the costs to repair or replace your vehicle less a deductible you choose. Paying a higher deductible means lower monthly premiums.

Should you buy collision and comprehensive insurance?

If you have payments on your current leased or financed vehicle and are involved in an accident, you will likely find yourself without a vehicle to drive while owing the full balance on your vehicle if you do not purchase collision and comprehensive insurance. If you are not financing your car, you should take into account the value of the vehicle you drive. If you could easily replace the vehicle after an accident, full coverage insurance may not be necessary. If the car has value, or you would be unable to purchase a new vehicle after an accident, collision and comprehensive insurance could give you the peace of mind you need.

Things to take into consideration when contemplating buying comprehensive insurance:

  • Your car’s condition and value
  • Use of the vehicle
  • Your financial ability to replace or repair damages after an accident
  • If payments are being made, your contractual obligations to the lender

If comprehensive coverage is an option for you, request a free quote with no obligation whatsoever. Within minutes you can review your quotes and decide which auto insurer to work with to determine the best coverage for your needs.


Will You Save Sales Taxes if You Trade-In Your Vehicle? Adam Goldfein #book #value #car


#trade in vehicle
#

Will You Save Sales Taxes if You Trade-In Your Vehicle?

Depending on where you live (see the list below) your trade-in vehicle(s) may be exempt from Sales Taxes.  For example, if you are purchasing a $30,000 vehicle and are trading a $10,000 vehicle, you would only pay sales tax on the difference – $20,000.

So remember, if your trade is exempt from sales taxes and you are considering selling your vehicle to another party – e.g. selling it privately or to a different dealership from the one you are planning on buying a vehicle – you will be losing that tax break.

For example, if you were to sell your $10,000 vehicle on the Internet to a private party it would be the same as receiving $9,345.80 as a trade in (if your Sales Tax was 7% for example). The reason being that you would be saving another $654.20 in Sales Tax savings from trading.  Put another way, if the dealer offered you $10,000 – it would be the same as you selling your vehicle in the private market for $10,700 (if your Sales Tax was 7% again).

So what happens if your State is one of the 12 States that does not exempt the trade-in from Sales Tax? In that case, whether you trade in your vehicle or not, it has no effect on the Sales Tax you pay. You would pay the full amount of Sales Tax on the vehicle you are purchasing. If you are buying a $30,000 vehicle and your trade is worth $10,000; you would still pay Sales Tax on $30,000.  As such, residents of those 12 States end up paying more in total for their vehicles.

IS THE TRADE-IN EXEMPT FROM SALES TAX?


Car Leasing Guide – How to Save Money. #buy #my #car


#car leasing
#

Car Leasing Guide

1. The Basics

Many people assume car leasing is a bad financial decision, but the truth is – leasing makes sense IF you meet the following three criteria:

1. You want a new car in 4 years or less

2. You drive 15,000 or fewer miles per year

3. You have excellent credit

If you answered yes to all three, then leasing is a smart choice. You just need to be very careful when entering into a lease; there’s a lot of confusing terminology, and dealers will try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge.

Most car shoppers don’t really understand how a lease works. Most assume it’s similar to renting, but leasing is simply just another method of financing a vehicle. During a lease, you pay for the use of a vehicle (the depreciation), plus the interest payment – called the money factor.

When you lease a vehicle, you’re actually doing business with a finance company – not the dealer. They purchase the vehicle from the dealer for the price you negotiate, then they lease it to you. Therefore, it’s very important to negotiate the price of the vehicle as if you’re buying it. That’s the number one leasing mistake – and it can be very costly!

I relied on several resources to learn about car leasing, but the best one by far was LeaseGuide.com. I highly recommend you read through their site for more detailed information regarding car leasing. They also provide an excellent Lease Kit that helps you compare and analyze lease deals.

2. Pros & Cons

Further Reading

I don’t recommend car leasing for most people, but in certain circumstances it makes sense. You need to weigh the pros and cons to determine if it’s right for you.

Some of the advantages to leasing are lower monthly payments, no repair costs, no hassles selling the vehicle, and the luxury of driving a brand new car every few years.

For your immediate needs, you may want a certain type of vehicle, but know you’ll need something different just a few years down the road. For example, if you just got married and are expecting to have kids, you may want to drive something fun for now, but will need a minivan later.

The downside to leasing is that it’s more expensive over the long term. You’ll need to watch the number of miles you drive; you’ll need more expensive insurance, and you won’t be able to customize the vehicle .

Once you get into a lease, it’s expensive to cancel, so make sure leasing is the right choice for you before signing a contract.

3. Calculating the Lease

Further Reading

Comparing different lease deals can be confusing and cumbersome. You have all kinds of weird terminology such as cap costs. money factors. and residual values. But it’s vital that you understand how a lease is calculated.

Luckily, there’s a simple method which allows you to compare different lease deals rather quickly. You just need to figure out the monthly cost per $10,000 worth of vehicle.

If the monthly lease payment comes out to less than $135 per $10,000 worth of vehicle, then the lease deal is good. The best lease deals will hover around the $100 per $10,000 mark. You can read about this method in full detail here: How to Quickly Compare Lease Deals

Lease payments are made-up of three parts: depreciation – which is the largest portion, interest (called money factor), and taxes. It’s actually pretty easy to calculate once you know how to do it, so don’t feel intimidated. Dealers love confused car buyers, and there’s nothing more confusing than leasing – so it really pays to be in the know on this subject.

4. Leasing Strategies

Further Reading

There are two things you really need to focus on if you want to get the best possible lease deal.

1. Always negotiate the price!

Many don’t realize that you can negotiate the purchase price of a vehicle when leasing. This is called the capitalized cost. and it’s a major factor that affects your monthly lease payment.

The best lease deals are usually offered through the manufacturer in the form of subvented lease deals. When a manufacturer offers these lease deals, they typically lower the interest rate (called money factor ), and/or increase the residual values to make the lease more affordable. You can see if a manufacturer is offering special lease deals by contacting dealers directly.

5. Fees, Taxes, and Other Costs

Further Reading

Leasing a car involves certain fees that you normally wouldn’t have to pay if you were buying a car. A lot of people are confused when they hear “no money down” on a lease, thinking that it literally means you get to drive off with zero initial payment – this is not necessarily true.

The down payment on a lease only makes up one portion of the cash that’s due at lease signing. With a lease, you’ll also be required to pay an acquisition fee (usually $250 to $1,000), plus a disposition fee (usually $200 to $400). Sometimes you also have to provide a security deposit – which is refundable.

Don’t forget you’ll also have to pay fees such as dealer doc fee, tag, title, registration and license fees. If you buy the vehicle at lease end, you’ll have to pay these same fees again.

Some people are surprised when they find out that insuring a leased vehicle is going to cost more – that’s because leasing companies require you to get a higher level of insurance. In most cases, your state’s minimum insurance coverage will not be enough, so keep that in mind before leasing.

6. Car Leasing Scams

Further Reading

Most dealers assume car buyers are clueless when it comes to leasing – which is unfortunately true. Most of the scams related to leasing take advantage of this confusion.

The most common scams have to do with raising the price of the vehicle – called capitalized cost. A lot of shoppers don’t realize the cap cost can be negotiated down, so dealers get away with charging MSRP on a car that should normally be discounted thousands.

Other scams involve lying about interest rates (the money factor), or omitting information from the leasing contract. Some dealers can literally steal your trade-in with one stroke of a pen. You also need to watch out for fake fees – be sure to read the articles in this section carefully, so you don’t fall victim to any of these leasing scams.


Car Rental Malaga: Save up to 60% #leasing #cars


#malaga car hire
#

Malaga Rental Cars

A trip to Malaga wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its best attractions. You can struggle with public transportation schedules, or fight for taxis. But why? Explore every corner of Malaga in a rental car. Visit Gibralfaro Castle and Malaga Cathedral with your own set of wheels, or take a scenic drive along the outskirts of town.

Malaga features some plush golf courses. Hit the links at Estepona Golf or Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort, or take a mulligan and head out to Almenara Golf Resort.

You don’t have to sail in or out of Malaga to be a captain. Lead an expedition to Benalmadena Marina, Algeciras Harbour, or Marbella Marina, and keep the crew happy.

Places of worship

Capuchin Convent and Church of the Incarnation are sacred sights to behold. Take in the solemn atmosphere and reflect on your safe journey to Malaga.

The beaches in Malaga are perfect for relaxing with friends and family. Bring your suntan lotion to Fuengirola Beach and Almunecar Beach, but you’ll also find Bajadilla Beach and Bajondillo Beach in the area.

Shopping

Browse local stores and markets with a visit to Centro Plaza, El Corte Ingles Shopping Center, and Mercado de Atarazanas. Even if you can’t find the perfect souvenir, you can still do some people watching.

Attractions

Make it a point to visit popular attractions like Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, and Malaga Amphitheatre in Malaga. Malaga Cathedral and Picasso’s Birthplace are just a couple of other local highlights.

Find Malaga car rental deals right here on Expedia.com today. From compact cars to spacious SUVs, you can find the perfect set of wheels for your next holiday at a great price. Narrow your search by vehicle size, options, and more when you use our easy booking agent to rent a car in minutes.

Other Car Rental Deals in Popular Destinations


Guide to Auto Insurance – Get a Quote and Save #car #price #checker


#insurance car
#

Save up to $451 with DMV.com Auto Insurance Quotes

In the United States all states have requirements for auto insurance. Each state has their own specific regulations but it is always important that people who own or operate motor vehicles have auto insurance. Insurance can protect you from liability if you injure or damage the property of another person and it can also save you the cost of your own medical bills or repair costs if you are in an accident. Accidents are unpredictable so it’s important to have the right insurance coverage. DMV.com provides you with the critical information and advice you’ll need.

Getting an Auto Insurance Quote should be your First Step.

Today’s online auto insurance quotes are free and can save the average consumer hundreds of dollars on their coverage. So, it’s important for anyone searching for auto insurance information to understand what they are paying and how much they could possibly save by getting a quote. DMV.com provides free quotes from local insurance companies that consistently provide the best rates. Simply enter your ZIP code using the box on this page and select the company of your choice. Once you complete their online form you will immediately be provided with a quote that will ensure you are getting a competitive rate. There is no obligation to purchase so you getting multiple quotes is a good idea.

Auto Insurance in your State

If you are looking for more information about your state’s car insurance rules and regulations you can find that information by selecting your state from the map below. DMV.com provides simple and easy guides and how-to articles for DMV issues like insurance in every US state.


Save with a Multi-Policy Insurance Discount #car #key #replacement


#multi car insurance
#

Claims Center arrow expand

Retrieve Saved Quote Call 1-877-On Your Side (1-877-669-6877) Anytime

Find an Agent Find an Agent

Advanced Search Call 1-877-On Your Side

(1-877-669-6877) Anytime

Bundle Your Insurance Policies and Save With a Multi-Policy Discount

Learn how to get a lower rate with home and auto insurance discounts. Nationwide’s multiple-policy discounts can apply to combinations of home insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, motorcycle insurance, boat insurance or other Nationwide policies to help you save.

By protecting all of your property with one company, you can save – and help simplify your life. Monthly bills can go to the same place, and you’ll never have to wonder which company to call when filing a claim.

Combine policies and save with multiple-policy discounts

Get a quote online, contact your local Nationwide agent or call us at 1-877-On Your Side® (1-877-669-6877) to take advantage of the following multi-policy discounts:

Home and auto insurance discount

Save money when you combine your Nationwide homeowners insurance (or renters insurance ) with your car insurance.

Auto, home and life insurance discount

Multi-car insurance discount

Boat package insurance discount


11 strategies to cut down on student loan debt #college, #college, #personal #finance, #save #me, #cnbc #digital #workshop, #business #news


#

11 strategies to avoid student loan debt

Pay ahead to stay ahead: College loans Friday, 19 Jun 2015 | 7:40 AM ET | 01:31

Just because the average grad carries more than $30,000 in student loan debt doesn’t mean current and future students should resign themselves to the same fate. There are plenty of ways to reduce or limit your loan balance before graduation.

Loan balances continue to rise. In 2005, the average college graduate left campus owing $18,259, according to the Project on Student Debt. This year, college resource site Edvisors.com estimates the average grad’s balance is $35,051. (Recent grads aren’t without recourse, either. Check out the video above for strategies to make payments more manageable.)

To avoid that debt—and the problems that can follow it—parents and students can employ many strategies, depending on their timeline to graduation. “Fundamentally, you either have to increase other sources of money besides loans, or you have to reduce the cost,” said Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher at Edvisors.com. “There’s no other way around it.” Every dollar you borrow now works out to $2 you’ll have to pay back later, he said. Here’s how to reduce borrowing:

Save. If you have a longer timeline to work with, the best strategy is simple: Start saving. Although 89 percent of parents expect their child will attend college and benefit from that education, just 48 percent are saving for that goal, according to a recent Sallie Mae survey. The average savings balance is $10,040, but that’s still $10,040 less that has to come from other sources. And even small monthly contributions add up over an 18-year timeframe.

Pick a cheaper college. The lower your cost, the lower the debt burden, so start researching and talking about college expenses well before it’s time to apply, said Therese Nicklas, a certified financial planner with U.S. Wealth Management in Boston. Parents should take charge steering that conversation, she said—what kinds of colleges work with the family’s savings and budget, for example, how that college choice will influence loans required. Ideally, students’ loan balance shouldn’t exceed their expected starting salary. As part of the hunt, price out a variety of options. “You’re going to find some colleges that are very reasonable,” she said. Some might have more generous aid policies, or cheaper pricing for in-state residents.

Plan out spending strategies. Think about paying for college as a four-year strategy rather than one to assess year by year, said certified financial planner Evelyn Zohlen, president of Inspired Financial in Huntington Beach, California. Depending on how much you’ve saved, splitting savings evenly across four years may not be the smartest plan. “Then you’re borrowing money in years one and two and accruing interest on that over four years, which you may not need to do,” she said. But it can also hurt to have a too-big cost gap in later years that exceeds the cap on federal loans, requiring families to turn to pricier private options. It can help to hire a planner or consultant to find the best strategy of which savings to spend down, when, factoring in rising costs and shifting aid offers.

Borrow wisely. Maximize federal student loans before turning to private ones, said Kantrowitz. Private loans typically have higher rates and may allow interest to compound more frequently while you’re in school. More important, private loans don’t have the same provisions in place for forgiveness, deferment or forbearance.

Transfer. Starting out at a community college or other low-cost option with intent to transfer can cut costs substantially. During the 2014-15 academic year, the average tuition and fees at a four-year private college was $31,231, according to The College Board. In comparison, tuition and fees at a public four-year college cost $9,139 and a public two-year college, $3,347. But transferring is a strategy that requires a lot of planning. “It’s a detour where you may not reach your destination,” said Kantrowitz. Credits don’t always transfer or fulfill required classes, which can limit which colleges one can transfer to and require in more time to earn a degree—eating into any early savings. Transfer students are also often offered less financial aid than they would be if they enrolled as freshmen, he said.

Finagle financial aid. During the 2014-15 academic year, the average undergrad received $8,080 in grants, while graduate students received $8,540, according to The College Board. That’s aid that doesn’t need to be paid back. Offers can sometimes be negotiable. and aid may free up once enrollment is set, said Nicklas. “Don’t be afraid to ask,” she said. Of course, you can also hunt for outside scholarships—just check to make sure that the college won’t count them to reduce aid it offers.

Accelerate graduation. Map out classes to get that four-year degree in less time—or graduate in four years with two majors or part of a graduate degree under your belt. “An important step you can take to make sure you graduate on time is to plan a path from matriculation to completion,” said Kantrowitz. “What classes are you going to take? When? It may be you have to take this class this particular semester.” If a class is already full, make your case and ask for an enrollment override from the professor, or the dean’s office. Although most colleges require 12 credit hours per semester to be considered full-time, they may allow students to take up to 18 before incurring additional tuition. Or add in a summer class, which are usually less expensive, he said.

Pay in installments. If you can pay the tuition, but not all at once, ask about a tuition installment plan instead of loans, Zohlen said. These break up the bill into equal monthly installments paid over a semester or year. There’s an upfront setup fee, but it’s usually less than $100.

Cut living expenses. If you’re using student loan money to cover expenses beyond tuition, consider what you can do to reduce those costs. “Financial choices always have implications,” said Zohlen—in the case of student loans, ones that can take 10 to 15 years to pay off. That might mean living at home instead of on campus, renting textbooks instead of buying them, or reducing dining-out expenses to make the most of that included meal plan.

Work. On-campus work-study opportunities can also be used to replace or reduce loans, said Nicklas—her son snagged a job as a resident assistant, which covered his room and board. But remember that student is the first job at hand, said Kantrowitz. Taking on too many hours may eat into necessary study time to keep grades high enough to retain scholarship funds. Opt for an off-campus job, and financial aid could be reduced if you earn more than $6,400 in the 2015-16 academic year, he said.

Prepay loans. Windfalls like tax refunds, pay raises or gifts could be used to cut loan balances and, depending on the loan, interest accrued. “Nothing stops you from making an extra payment to reduce the loan balance, and you can even do that while you’re in school,” said Kantrowitz. But it may be better to use that money to borrow less in future years rather than prepay. “If you’re effectively borrowing more money so you can pay the interest, are you really coming out ahead?” he said.