Autotrader.com (our partner here at KBB) is a comprehensive site for consumers seeking to buy and sell cars, SUVs, and other motor vehicles. In the past years, it seems that every day a new competitor pops up, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to see what each has to offer. Here we take a look at Autotrader.com vs. U.S. News.
Autotrader History and Background
Auto Trader first launched in 1992 in print, showing ads for cars. This print version lasted ceased publishing in 2017. Autotrader.com, with much more comprehensive tools, reviews, and vehicle history reports, started in 1997.
With the stated goal of being “your ultimate solution for buying and selling new, certified, and used cars,” Autotrader.com offers a number of benefits. It boasts the largest selection of vehicle inventory from dealers and private sellers; a comprehensive selection of buying and selling tips; research and comparison tools, including reviews, photos, and videos; vehicle pricing, including seller specials and dealer discounts; safety information and vehicle history reports; and even help with finance, insurance, and warranty programs. We at KBB.com provide pricing information in our partnership with Autotrader.
Autotrader.com lets shoppers research and compare cars by body type, mileage, price, and other criteria. In terms of numbers, Autotrader has more than 3 million vehicle listings from 40,000 dealers and 250,000 private owners, with more than 14 million buyers per month.
One unique feature on Autotrader.com is “Dealer Home Services” which allows shoppers to search for only those new or used cars where the dealership offers a video walkaround, at-home test drive, and vehicle delivery. This is particularly useful for people who are not keen on visiting dealer showrooms.
U.S. News History and Background
Unlike many of the other sites, we have looked at here, which are exclusively about buying and selling cars, U.S. News and World Report is a news service, but similar to a daily newspaper, it has a car-buying section.
U.S. News started way back in 1933 as a news magazine, the company founder David Lawrence later starting World Report in 1946. The two magazines eventually merged into one in 1948, and then switched over to Web-based content in 2010. U.S. News also publishes things such as its college ranking lists.
Autotrader listings for Car Buyers
Autotrader.com allows buyers to search for new cars by everything from make to style, price, location, and even more.
Each new car listing includes information provided by the seller, including the vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number) and often the dealer stock number.
What you will see on Autotrader.com
At the top of the page, you are allowed to search by make, model, or style. An “Advanced search” button allows you to broaden your search terms, with such things as location, condition, and style.
Next, you come to a page that shows an example of a car and a dealership, with the MSRP. It also includes information on the dealership and KBB’s dealer rating. Boxes appear with Dealer Home Services options, such as whether a video walkaround or at-home test drive is available. You also have the option to expand the search radius from your home.
Once you click on a particular car, the mileage, engine, transmission, mpg, exterior, and interior colors, and the VIN are included, including seller comments. Lower down the page is listed warranty information.
Below that is pricing information provided by us here at KBB.com. This includes the MSRP and how it relates to what we believe the fair market range is for the vehicle. We update this information frequently as it changes depending on things like season (convertibles are more popular in the summer) and desirability or popularity of a particular new car.
If you need to finance the vehicle, below this is the “Calculate Payment” tool where you can plug in the number of months and down payment and (if relevant) the trade-in value of your current vehicle. It will then tell you your monthly payment and what the APR is.
Contacting a seller through Autotrader
At the top of the is an e-mail click that says “confirm availability” if you like the car.
Then there are a number of ways to contact the dealership, including a private message with your name, e-mail, and (optionally) phone number. Or you can send an e-mail and ask questions about the car.
U.S. News listings for Car Buyers
The Web site appears like most online news sites, with a number of tabs at the top, including Cars. The cars page is then divided into New Cars, Used Cars, Car Rankings, Cars for Sale, Advice, Best Car Deals, and Sell Your Car. Below is a tab for either Reviews of Cars for Sale where pull-down menus allow you to input make, model, and year. Below that are a number of different rankings and U.S. News Award Winners.
One somewhat unusual feature about the U.S. News site is that there are tabs at the top of the Cars page for New Cars, Used Cars, and redundantly, Cars for Sale. Each has its own slightly different pull-down, with the options under New Cars including Research Cars, Best Price Program, and Car Deals This Month.
The Used Cars tab is similar, with Used Cars for Sale, Used Car Deals This Month, and also a tab for Certified Pre-Owned. The Cars for Sale tab is more basic, with the only options being New, Used, and Certified Pre-Owned.
New Cars for Sale on U.S. News
Once you click on the New Cars for Sale tab, it brings you to a nationwide page where you can search by your zip code. But the page is already populated with all the cars for sale all over the country, with such things as where the car is, what kind of offers, photos, and a Check Availability tab.
A bar along the left side of the page allows you to narrow your search by a number of filters, including distance from your zip code, make and model, condition (new or used), year, color, features offered, and price. A basic search of simply make and model yields several cars with photos, general location of the dealer, and mpg of the car. Once you click through, the page includes the car’s VIN, an estimated monthly payment, and basic vehicle specs.
Listings also include whether a dealer offers Buy From Home, whereby a dealership provides home delivery, including paperwork. This appeals to people not wanting to set foot in a dealership.
Contacting a seller through U.S. News
One way where U.S. News differs from other sites is it doesn’t offer direct contact information for the dealer, although it does show the dealership name. Buyers are encouraged to provide their name, phone number, and e-mail and then there is a button to click for Check Availability. The MSRP of the car is listed but with a line through it, and something called Best Price Program Price. Once you contact a dealer, they will provide you with their best offer on the car.
Used Cars on Autotrader.com
Autotrader features used car listings from both dealers and private parties. The search options are similar to those for new cars and include such parameters as year, make, price, style, location, color, etc.
One key difference is that you can filter used cars by vehicle history (number of owners, any accidents) and mileage. Many listings also include a link to a free Carfax report.
Each listing includes information from the seller, features, and general model information such as reviews, where applicable. Information about the original warranty is also available, as well as KBB’s Fair Market value.
Similar to the new car listings, the used listings also offer a variety of ways to contact the seller, such as e-mail, chat, and of course, a phone number.
Some of the used cars are known as CPO (certified pre-owned) cars. CPO programs are run by the manufacturers and available at dealerships. A CPO car is one with low mileage that has been thoroughly inspected and includes a warranty from the manufacturer.
More Search Choices
Even beyond the conventional new and used car listings, Autotrader provides different classes of search on other pages. At the bottom of the home page, there are options to find classic and exotic cars, motorcycles, or even RVs. One category that may be handy for certain buyers is a special search for those with bad credit. After all, everyone deserves a chance.
Used Cars on U.S. News
The Used Cars page on U.S. News is not terribly different from the New Cars page. Basic listings include where the dealership is, the price, and the mileage of the car. Prices are listed, with a colored tab below them indicating whether U.S. News deems it a High Price, Good Deal, Great Deal, or Excellent Deal.
Once you click through to a car, the listing is similar to those for a new car, with a couple of exceptions being a listed price, the mileage, and an option to request a Carfax report.
Certified Pre-Owned on U.S. News
Certified Pre-Owned cars on U.S. News are just like other used car listings. This information notes the car’s mileage, if a free Carfax report is available, price and estimate of the monthly payment, and whether the dealership offers Buy from Home.
Autotrader.com Listings for Sellers
Since Autotrader.com exists to help not only buyers but also sellers, Autotrader offers a few different choices for private-party sellers. Listings are on a pricing scale, with a basic ad going for $25, a featured ad costing $50, and a premium ad going for $90. Due to Autotrader’s partnership with us at KBB.com, any Autotrader posting also appears here.
Each listing includes the ability to display photos as well. Basic comes with three photos, featured gets 20, and a Premium ad includes 30. There is also the option to add 10 more photos to any package for an additional $20.
Sellers also get a counter to see how successful their ad has been and how many people have clicked on it.
Sellers can include a vehicle history report, which costs $15 with a basic or featured listing but comes with a Premium ad. Another $15 option is Spotlight Ad status, which bumps the ad up on the search results page from time to time. This is free with Premium.
Premium ads also get a Supercharger listing, which makes the ad stand out in search results. This costs $10 with a Basic or Featured ad.
KBB Instant Cash Offer
Yet another advantage to Autotrader’s partnership with us at KBB.com is that a seller has the option of participating in the Kelley Blue Book instant cash offer, which gives the seller to get a cash or trade-in offer fro KBB at participating dealers. This eliminates a lot of the hassle of selling a car, which includes scams or even damage to one’s property.
U.S. News Information for Sellers
At the top on the far right side of the Cars page on U.S. News is a tab for Sell Your Car. That page is a point-by-point advice article about how to sell your car, including calculating a price, preparing it for sale, and advertising it, with information on how to arrange a dealer trade-in. U.S. News does not provide any method for selling a car through the site or contacting a dealership unless you’re trading in your car as part of a purchase.
3 credit habits that you need to break
Are you using your credit card responsibly? Or do you have a few bad habits? Take a look at three common bad habits that people have with their credit cards and the best ways to stop doing them.
Habit 1: Pushing the limits
The first bad credit habit is pushing your outstanding balance close to its limit. What’s wrong with that? The first problem is that you’re giving yourself a larger debt load to contend with every month — one that accumulates interest the longer that it sits. It could be very difficult to pay down, and it could even lead to you maxing out your card.
The second problem with this habit is that it leaves you vulnerable to emergencies. You’ve taken up the majority of your available credit, so you can’t depend on it for unexpected payments. What if you need to pay for an urgent repair and there’s not enough room on your card? What can you do?
To avoid that difficult situation, you could apply for an online loan to help you cover the emergency costs and move forward. See how you can apply for an online loan in Ohio when you have no other safety nets to fall back on. It’s important that you only turn to this solution when you’re dealing with an emergency. It’s not for everyday purchases or small budgeting mistakes.
In the meantime, you should try your best to keep your credit utilization at 30% or lower — this means that your balance should be below the halfway point of your limit.
Habit 2: Paying the minimum
You pay your credit card bills on time, but you only give the minimum payment. While this habit can stop you from racking up late fees and penalties, it can still get you into hot water if you’re not careful.
Only paying the minimum for your bill will make it very difficult for you to whittle down the balance, especially when you’re continuing to charge expenses on your card. You’re only taking $20-$25 off a growing pile.
So, what can you do? If you’re paying this amount by choice, stop it — you’re only making things harder for yourself down the line. If you’re paying this amount because you don’t have any more funds, look at your budget to see whether you can cut your monthly costs to get more savings and use them to tackle your balance.
Habit 3: Using it for every single expense
You don’t need to put every single expense on your credit card. Your morning coffee? Your afternoon snack? Putting these small, everyday expenses on your card is a habit that can make your balance climb quickly.
You also don’t want to put some very important expenses on there, like mortgage payments. For one, these payments are large and will take up a significant amount of your credit. Secondly, if you need to use a credit card to make these payments on time, you need to reinvestigate your budget to see whether you can actually afford your living space.
So, what you should you do? Use a debit card, cash or checks to pay for the items above. Only put expenses on your credit card that you’re positive you can pay off in a reasonable timeframe.
Don’t let these bad habits drag you down and get you into financial trouble. Break them now, before it’s too late.
Free credit reports have been extended; here’s why it’s important to check yours regularly
Typically, you’d be able to check your credit report — at least for free — just once annually through each of the three major credit reporting agencies. But thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, credit reports are now more accessible than ever.
Credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are all offering free credit reports weekly through April 20, 2022.
The move means better insight into your financial health during what, for most, is an economically challenging time. According to experts, it might also be a time that’s ripe for at-risk personal information and identity theft, too — even more reason consumers should be checking their credit on the regular.
Have you checked your annual credit lately? If not, here’s what you need to know about these free nationwide credit reports and how to get them. If you’re not sure where you fit on the credit score spectrum, you may want to start using a credit monitoring service to track changes to your credit score. Credible can get you set up with a free service today.
Free credit reports for all?
The nation’s three credit bureaus initially started offering free weekly credit reporting last year, just after the pandemic began. In early March, they announced they’d extended the offer for another year, this time through April 20, 2022.
To request your free credit reports and access copies, you can go to AnnualCreditReport.com and provide some basic information to verify your identity (things like your date of birth, Social Security Number, and address).
Once your report is ready, you should see a detailed list of all open and closed accounts in your name, your payment history, recent credit activity and more.
Protect yourself from identity theft
There are many reasons why checking your credit activity is important, but chief among them? That’d be the prevalence of data breaches in today’s world — not to mention the risk of identity theft they come with.
“In the past, it was perfectly acceptable for people to check their credit history once a year, but now with security breaches happening on a regular basis, consumers should be monitoring their credit more closely than ever,” said Clint Lotz, president and founder of TrackStar.ai, a predictive credit technology firm.
Lotz said the Equifax breach — which exposed over 147 million Americans’ personal information in mid-July 2017 — is the perfect example of why watching your credit report is important as far as identity theft protection goes. The pandemic, he said, adds an extra layer of risk to things.
“It took them [Equifax] months before they even realized they had been hacked, and considering that they hold files on hundreds of millions of Americans, it’s fair to say that many identities were stolen by the time they caught up to it,” Lotz said. “With many of us worrying about very serious issues not related to our credit, it’s a prime time for that stolen data to be put to work by bad actors in slow, methodical ways and in the hopes that nobody notices it.”
More reasons to check your credit
Checking your credit health often isn’t just good for detecting fraud alerts and to protect your identity, though. You can also monitor your report for errors — things like inaccurately reported late payments, for example — and then dispute those with the credit bureau.
If the error gets corrected, it could improve your credit score and make a jump from bad credit to a FICO score that’s more favorable. Not sure of your credit score? Head to Credible to check your score without negatively impacting it.
You can also use your credit reports and scores to monitor your financial habits — like the timeliness of your payments or how much debt you have left to pay off. Both of these factors can play a big role in your score, as well as how likely you are to get approved for loans, credit cards and other items.
“If you’re taking out a loan, getting insurance or even applying for a new job, checking your credit will allow you to see an overview of what would be seen by others looking at your credit,” said Leslie Tayne, a debt relief attorney with the Tayne Law Group. “Staying up-to-date on your credit reports and information allows you to know exactly where you need to improve.”
Want to be sure your credit is stellar before applying for a loan or insurance policy? Consider Credible’s partner product Experian Boost, which lets you use positive payment history on utilities, streaming and other bills to improve your credit score.
Set up a monitoring service, too
Though checking your credit reports manually is smart, you should also consider signing up for a credit monitoring service. These consumer financial services check your credit information and score regularly and alert you of any changes.
If you’re interested in monitoring your credit or improving your score, head to Credible and learn more about how Experian can help. You can also use Experian Boost to get credit for on-time bill payments.
Have a finance-related question, but don’t know who to ask? Email The Credible Money Expert at [email protected] and your question might be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.
Do Personal Loans Have Penalty APRs?
Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, for instance, has a 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR, but the penalty APR is a variable 29.99% (see rates and fees). Penalty APRs usually last for at least six months, but card issuers often reserve the right to extend them — especially when you continue making late payments. A look at the terms for the Citi® Double Cash Card show us that the “penalty APR may apply indefinitely.”
Penalty APRs are certainly not a trap you want to fall into, but it’s not something you usually have to worry about if you have a personal loan. Personal loan lenders can, however, charge late fees upwards of $39 per late payment. Whether your loan charges late fees all depends on how good of a loan you qualify for, and that comes down to your credit score, borrowing history and ability to make your payments.
Personal loans also tend to charge lower interest rates than credit cards, too. The average personal loan interest rate for two-year loans is currently 9.46% according to Q1 2021 data from the Federal Reserve, compared to 15.91% for credit cards.
Typically, interest rates for personal loans range between roughly 2.49% and 24%, but personal loans for applicants with bad credit can come with even higher APR — so do your research before applying.
Other common personal loan fees include:
- Interest: The monthly charge you pay to borrow money
- Origination fee: A one-time upfront charge that your lender subtracts from your loan to pay for administration and processing costs
- Late fee: A one-time fee charged for each payment that you fail to make by the due date or within your grace period
- Early payoff penalty: A fee incurred when you pay off your balance faster than planned (because the lender misses out on months of expected interest payments)
As you can see, personal loans can be costly, even without a penalty APR. It’s obviously best to avoid paying extra fees whenever possible. That’s easier to do when you have a good to excellent credit score, since you’ll qualify for better loan options.
None of the loans on our best personal loan list charge origination fees or early payoff penalties, but some may charge late fees.
Find the best personal loans
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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