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Refinancing a car loan

Here are some tips on refinancing a car loan.

*Car loan rates vary based on your credit score. Pay your bills on time, keep balances on credit cards low and keep your score higher before refinancing a car loan or any loan. See www.myfico.com and go to the Financial Help Center for information on auto loans.

*Several lenders, including credit unions, offer programs to refinance a car loan. Shop the rates and fees.

*It is easy to fall in love with what looks like the perfect deal on a new or used car, so maybe a 20 percent rate for a car loan might not seem bad to some people. But it's not a good rate, and you could qualify for a lower one.

*Pay attention to fees relating to a specific car loan, including if there is a large fee each time you make monthly payments online.

*If you have three years left on a five-year car loan, do not refinance to a five-year loan. You'd want a three-year car loan.

"Refinance at a lower rate and keep yourself on the same payout schedule," said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

*If you refinance, make sure your old loan does not have any prepayment penalty.

*McBride offers this tip: You may get an even lower rate by having the monthly payments automatically deducted from your checking account.