From holiday auto promotions to many franchise dealerships trying to clear out inventory and make room for newer models, purchasing a car later in the year could mean saving hundreds—perhaps thousands—of dollars on a new ride’s price tag. In fact, December has the year’s highest discount off MSRP (6.1 percent on average) and the highest incentives. Regardless of the time of year, it’s important that you’re armed with the knowledge to unpack any kind of special promo.

Here's how you can purchase a car during the holidays and get the most bang for your buck.

Don’t rush because there’s a promotion.

There’s no urgency to sign a deal. Automakers and dealerships typically build these sales around the entire holiday season, so make sure you do some pre-shopping research before you hit the car lot. Some dealerships also offer added discounts for military members and their families.

“Securing the best deal is oftentimes all about being a well-equipped buyer,” says Joe Pendergast, vice president of consumer lending at Navy Federal Credit Union. “Research exactly what kind of car fits your family’s needs and the models within your budget.”

If a newer model vehicle is outside of your price range, consider a late-model or certified pre-owned car. These are attractive alternatives as they come with many of the bells and whistles of a newer model, but at a significantly lower price. Also, explore auto buying services, such as Navy Federal’s Auto Buying Program, where you’ll find up-front, guaranteed pricing on a wide selection of new and used vehicles from purchasing dealers.

Square away your financing beforehand.

According to a recent Navy Federal survey, at least three-quarters of potential auto buyers will get an auto loan and most will seek out pre-approval (66 percent). Being pre-approved or pre-qualified from your trusted financial institution can greatly reduce any pressure from a car salesman and not get distracted by dealer financing. You don’t risk the excitement of buying a new car with payments you can’t manage. Thus, rest assured you’ve got a reasonable interest rate and favorable loan terms.

“The best thing consumers can do to avoid potential financing pitfalls when car shopping around the holidays and year-round is to find a reliable lender,” added Pendergast. “Your bank or credit union can provide auto financing that’s designed to set you up for success in the long run.”

Ask lots of questions and never be afraid to hold off.

Whether you secure financing with the dealer or a lender, carefully read the fine print on the paperwork. Make sure you fully understand all of the terms and conditions, as well as know exactly how much you’ll owe each month. If you have any hesitations, don’t be afraid to wait. New factory incentives will most certainly pop up again in the future.

Your budget and lifestyle should be your guide to figuring out whether or not these holiday auto incentives are a great deal and ultimately worth your while.

Navy Federal Credit Union is federally insured by NCUA.