We’ve all seen the holiday commercials. You know the ones. They show some doe-eyed actor gushing over a brand new, red-bow-bedecked-car sitting in a lightly snowy driveway. Sure, it’s a marketing gimmick this time of year, but it does happen.
While it may seem like a complicated trick to surprise someone you love with a car this holiday season its actually easier than you think. Here are five simple steps to get your loved one their dream car this Christmas.
This sounds pretty complex, right? Really it’s not, as long as you know your loved one well enough.
Are they looking to haul a lot of people? Try for an SUV. Do they love to go for Sunday drives on winding roads? Maybe a sports car is right for them. What about utility? Maybe a pick-up truck is the right fit. Plus here’s a secret—winter is the best time to find good deals on both sports cars and SUVS. Why? For one, it’s the end of the year and most people are looking to get a new car come January 1—and that includes SUVs. Additionally, people don’t generally think about buying a sports car in the winter. Think of it like buying a bathing suit in the throes of February.
The only thing to be aware of when giving the wheeling gift—is that unless you are giving it to someone other than your spouse (like a son or daughter, particularly if you are looking for a good first car for a new driver) you may have to pay a gift tax. The annual exclusion for gifts is $14,000—so anything above that will need to be disclosed to Uncle Sam if you’re gifting a new set of wheels to anyone other than your spouse.
Check out the listings on the Instamotor App and see what is available for a steal in your area.
Despite popular belief you can get a loan on a used car. Get pre-approved to help set a realistic budget. Want to know how? Check out our recent blog post on How to Finance a Used Car.
Also—be warned—if you are taking out the loan—you won’t be able to transfer the same interest rate to your giftee—and you probably won’t be able to transfer the loan at all. Banks require all listed parties to have credit checks. Once the bank runs their credit, your gift-receiver will know something is up.
If the car is going to be a gift, be sure to communicate that with your lender and the seller. There will likely be some extra paperwork after you’ve handed over the keys to your loved one.
This part will likely have to wait until after the big reveal on Christmas morning.
That is, unless you want to register the vehicle in your name until you give them the gift. In that case you can both head down to the DMV after you’ve handed over the keys and change registration, then.
It goes without saying but, be sure the car is insured before you or your loved one takes possession of it and drives it on the street.
Talk with your insurance agent about extending your current coverage if you are replacing a car—or adding the new-to-you car to your policy. Be upfront with them if you want to keep the purchase a secret, too.
This has to be the best part of the whole thing—the big whooper-doodle—the big unveil. Time to go out and shop for that perfect package to surprise them with.
Oh just in case you’ve ever wondered—there is a marketplace for big red bows. Seriously. Just check it out.
Digital media content producer/consultant & former CNN senior producer, now running CN'TRL : Cars, Tech, Real Estate & Luxury.