The Oklahoman

Car incentives return as inventory increases

- Amanda Pérez Pintado USA TODAY

Times have been tough for car buyers since prices skyrockete­d during the pandemic, but not all is lost for shoppers looking for a discount.

As inventory improves, some automakers are bringing back incentives – such as rebates and lease deals.

Incentives are still at historical­ly low levels, but shoppers can still find deals. In January, incentives climbed slightly to 2.8% of a vehicle’s average transactio­n – or sale – price, down from 8.6% two years prior but up from 2.7% in December, according to Kelley Blue Book.

And incentives on some vehicle categories are higher than the industry average. Compact SUVs, for instance, had incentives of about 3.5% of the average sale price in January, while midsize cars had incentives of about 4.5%, said Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader.

Meanwhile, electric vehicles and minivans had some of the lowest incentives at about 2% and less than 1%, respective­ly.

What are car incentives?

Incentives refer to discounts (typically on older models or slow sellers) automakers offer shoppers to attract new car sales, according to Kelley Blue Book. Some of the most common types of incentives include cash rebates, low-interest financing and special leases, according to car pricing site Edmunds.

How do I find a discount?

New-car buyers hunting for incentives should start by looking regionally, Moody said.

“There are often national incentives,” Moody said, “but there are also different incentives – sometimes more, sometimes less – based on region.”

Shoppers should keep in mind that incentives can also vary by brand and model. Brands like Acura, Alfa Romeo, Buick and Infiniti currently have relatively high incentives, Moody said.

But before buyers start shopping or correspond­ing with a dealership, they should first check their credit score, especially amid rising interest rates, Moody said.

“That’s the determiner of a lot of things,” Moody said.

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