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The College Student and Grad Guide to Car Discounts

There’s nothing like a student discount. Sure, senior citizens get a lot of discounts, but who wants to wait until AARP comes calling to save cash? While you may already get discounts for restaurants and shops around campus, not to mention discounts on travel and at museums and other attractions, being a college student or new grad can save you money on buying and owning a car. Use them wisely and those savings can really add up.

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Student Discounts on Car Insurance

Car insurance probably isn’t something you think about a lot, but if you have a car accident, you’ll be glad you have it. Thinking about the thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs that you’d be on the hook for if you didn’t have car insurance can make sending your insurance company your premium payment a little less painful. Getting a discount on car insurance can make sending that payment even easier.

Most major car insurance companies offer student discounts, but there’s a catch: you usually need to maintain a certain GPA to qualify for the discount. The GPA you need to have varies from company to company, but in most cases, you need to have at least a B average. If you keep your grades up, you can save. In some cases, you can save up to 20 percent off your car insurance bill. If you combine that discount with a multiple policy discount (if you get your renter’s insurance from the same company you get your car insurance from), the savings can add up. To qualify for most good-student discounts, you also need to be under 25, single, and a full-time student. You may even be able to hang on to this discount if you go to graduate or professional school. If you get good grades, shop around to see which car insurance company offers the best combination of coverage and a good student discount.

[Read 10 big and small ways to save money in college]

Student Discounts on New and Used Cars

When you don’t have a long work history, getting financing for a car can be tough. You just won’t have the credit or employment history that financing companies look for. Luckily, car companies often have special financing programs for new grads. Honda offers new grads or students that are four months away from graduating and who have employment offers flexible lease and financing terms on new and certified pre-owned Hondas. The program applies to graduates of associate’s, bachelor’s, nursing, or master’s programs. You have up to two years after graduating to take advantage or the program. While Honda offers new grads special financing terms, Toyota goes further, adding a $1,000 rebate toward the purchase or lease of a new Toyota. Toyota’s eligibility requirements are similar to Honda’s.

If you’re feeling pretty good about your income potential, some luxury car companies have new grad programs. Acura has the same requirements and benefits for their grad program as parent-company Honda does. General Motors offers college students discounts on Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC models (there’s no student discount available on any Cadillac models). To take advantage, you simply need to be enrolled in any accredited two- or four-year college, or have graduated within the last two years. You can apply to GM discount to two cars within one calendar year–assuming you want and need to buy two cars a year. While other programs give you special financing or a rebate, GM’s program gives you preferred price, so the amount of the discount may vary from model to model. With all of these programs, see if you can save more by combining your student or new grad discount with other current discounts or incentives the car maker may be offering.

Why Student Discounts?             

Car and insurance companies offer student and new grad discounts because they know you’re not only at the beginning of your career, but you’re also at the beginning of a major increase in purchasing power. Think of it from their perspective: If an insurance company can over your car while you’re in college, they’ll probably be the first company you turn to when it’s time to insure your house or buy life insurance. It’s the same thing for car companies. They want to build loyal customers. The best way to take advantage of these programs, however, is to be anything but a loyal customer. Shop around for the best combination of the discounts you want and the service or product you need.  

[Discover other hidden ways to save on college costs]