I’m not advocating buying a new car when you graduate (especially if you have student loans to pay off, or you’re having a rough time catching on in today’s job market), but if you do want to give yourself a graduation treat you should be aware that most of the major car makers offer some pretty superb cool graduate rebate programs on new vehicles. The premise here is obviously to hook in young professionals that will have higher-than-average career earnings, and try to build some brand loyalty early on in life. They hope that if you get used to identifying with their brand as a young adult, you’ll continue to come back to them for your automotive needs. It’s a pretty good marketing idea really. I definitely don’t think you should blindly choose your new vehicle based upon who has the best grad rebate offer, but it is a nice negotiating tool to tell your GM dealer, “You know it’s really coming down to you guys and the Toyota model, and here is what Toyota is offering me as a recent graduate, so what can you do to match that.”
Negotiating to For Maximum Savings
Before we get into a direct comparison of what GM, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and Mazda have to offer, I’ll share a useful tip that I used when buying my car a couple of years ago. Always negotiate the price separate from everything else, and when you truly feel that you have gotten your best deal, only THEN do you spring on them that you know of the graduate rebate program. The dealer likely won’t bring this up if you don’t (why would they cut their own profit margins). Since you have already chipped away at dealership’s profit margin through solid negotiating (and other discount offers), they will not want to give you the full discount, but this gives you some solid negotiating leverage anyway. Whether you want to get some free oil changes or accessories thrown in, you now have $500-$1,000 that the dealership is almost contractually obligated to honour in some way. Simply bring your recently held credential (university degrees are always excepted, but most college and trades programs count now as well) with you, and don’t bring it out until your salesman has already “talked to his manager” a couple times. Most of the offers have pretty generous timelines on them and will allow you to take advantage up to a few years from your graduation date.Without further ado, here’s what you can expect to get when you go vehicle shipping just for bringing in your new diploma or degree:
GM Canada: $750 off the purchase of any new vehicle. This includes the brands of Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC. The unique aspect of this offer versus the other ones is that it is applicable to high school students and recently graduated high schools students. Any vocational program graduates can take advantage of this deal as well!
Kia: The Kia “Ride On” grad program offers a $500 rebate if you have graduated from an accredited post-secondary institution in the last two years, or are eligible to graduate in the next your months. College diploma programs, military and police academies, and CEGEP education all counts.
Ford: $500 off the purchase of almost any new Ford vehicle if you have graduated in the last 5 years. This was the least advertised of the major car dealers in Canada, and I would make reference to the GMC offer if I were shopping there as it is much better publicized.
Hyundai: I couldn’t find anything listed about Hyundai graduation rebates in 2012, but as recently as 2011 they were offering a $500 rebate on all new vehicle purchases. The same general eligibility rules appear to be in effect. Even if Hyundai no longer advertises this deal, when I personally bought my car from them they were more than happy to offer $500 when I told them about GMC’s deal.
Mazda: Mazda has sort of a unique set up to their graduate rebate program. Depending on the model of the new vehicle you purchase you could get anywhere from a $300 rebate (on a Mazda 2) to a $1000 rebate (on a CX-9 or MX-5). This kind of makes the Mazda Canada graduate rebate program stand out in my mind a little bit.
Toyota: Pretty similar to the rest of the field, Toyota offers a $500 graduation rebate on almost all of their new vehicles. Again, if I were to purchase a Toyota vehicle I would make their sales staff aware of the better offers out there in the hopes that they would come down a little.
Pretty much all of these offers are only allowed to be used once in a lifetime. There are definitely many reasons to buy a used vehicle as opposed to new, especially when you’re just starting out. But if you want to take advantage of the latest advances in fuel mileage technology, or have just determined that you can fit a little bit of luxury into your life, then you might as well get as much bang for your buck as possible.