All About the Nissan First-Time Buyer Program

Nissan offers both First Time Buyer and College Grad programs, but the requirements and availability vary by location.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Pat Roache
Nissan advertises a College Grad program for recent college graduates that meet certain eligibility requirements, and some local dealerships have their own First Time Buyer programs as well. Both of these programs are aimed at helping people who don’t have a lot of credit history to qualify for their first
car loan
or lease.
  • Nissan offers a College Grad program for recent or future graduates of approved schools
  • Some local Nissan dealerships offer New Buyer Programs, but details and availability vary by location 
  • Income requirements, proof of employment, and other stipulations may need to be met to be eligible for these programs

Does Nissan offer a First Time Buyer program?

Nissan’s First Time Buyer program is only for college students who have recently graduated or will graduate soon—it’s called the College Grad Program.
The College Grad Program advertises $500 cash back, as well as the potential to qualify for a “major discount” on a new Nissan—but you’ll have to talk to your dealership to see if they participate and get any more details as to what that means.
What we do know is that this program is available at participating dealerships to drivers who:
  • Have graduated from an approved higher education institution within the past 24 months, or will graduate in the next 6 months.
  • Provide proof of current or future employment that will begin in the next 90 days.
While Nissan doesn’t specifically mention this, it’s reasonable to assume that there is a minimum
down payment
required as well—in these cases, it’s usually at least 5%. But remember that not every dealership participates in this program, and the details can vary according to location.
If you’re not a college student, you might still be able to get a break! Even though Nissan doesn’t advertise a company-wide program, many local Nissan dealerships advertise First Time Buyer programs on their own sites.
For example, a Nissan dealership in
advertised a First Time Buyer program with the following requirements to qualify:
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have been employed for at least one year
  • Have a gross monthly income of at least $1,800
  • Have no more than 12 months of auto loan payment history
  • Have a qualified cosigner or more than 5% cash down payment
The upshot? Do your due diligence with your area Nissan dealerships, as there can be local programs for first-time buyers that can vary from dealership to dealership.
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Tips for low-credit Nissan financing if you don’t qualify for the College Grad program

If you didn’t go to college or another approved type of school or graduated more than two years ago, then you, unfortunately, won’t qualify for the College Grad Program. You may also have a
low income
that doesn’t qualify, nor have a job lined up, or not be able to have a big enough down payment—and that’s ok! It’s hard to be a first-time car buyer, and we’ve all been there.
But don’t give up hope—here are a few pointers on how to get the vehicle and financing you need, even if you don’t qualify for a special program or promotion.

Choose a vehicle you can afford

When you’re deciding what car to go for, use a loan payment calculator to determine which models you can reasonably afford based on your credit score and income.
Another good way to
reduce your car loan cost
is to shop for a
used car
. Most Nissan dealerships have an inventory of used vehicles, and with a certified pre-owned vehicle, you can get both a good deal and a reliable ride.

Compare loan offers from multiple lenders

It may be easier to get your
financing in-house through your dealership
, but it’s often not the most economical choice. A little leg work comparing auto loan offers from your bank or
credit union
can pay off, and if you get pre-approved before you start hitting the car lots you’ll be in a good position to get a deal. 

Get help from a co-signer

Sometimes, we all need a little help! If you can’t qualify for financing on your own, see if you can get a friend or relative with a stronger credit score to cosign on your loan. This greatly increases the odds of getting approved for financing and securing a good interest rate. And as your financial situation improves, you can often
remove the cosigner
or even
refinance your loan
for a better rate!
MORE: How to get a cosigner for a bad credit car loan

Have patience

If you have an immediate need for your vehicle, then this isn’t a viable option. But if a new car is more of a want than a need, then putting off the purchase for a few months (or even a year) gives you time to save up a down payment and build your credit. There are a lot of little ways that you can improve your credit score without having to apply for credit cards, and putting a little bit aside every week can add up.
MORE: Car loans for people with no credit history

The best Nissan models for first-time car buyers

Nissan’s current offerings are pretty strong across the board. There is a wide range of both price points and body styles, meaning that there’s likely a Nissan to suit almost anyone! But for first-time car buyers, here are a few ones to consider:
  • Nissan Versa
    : This compact sedan starts at an economical $15,370, and with its fuel economy rating of 32/40 mpg in city/highway driving, it’ll save you money on fuel costs as well.
  • Nissan Sentra
    : The classic Sentra starts at just below $20,000, and brings efficiency, style, and comfort to a timeless sedan.
  • Nissan Kicks
    : Get your Kicks starting at $20,290. This subcompact SUV offers versatile storage options for your gear and room for five passengers.
  • Nissan Leaf
    : If you’re interested in an EV for your first car, the Nissan Leaf starts at $28,040, but can be as low as $20,540 with potential federal tax credits.
No matter what model you may have your eye on, make sure that you’re aware of what financing options are available to you before you take a test drive. Happy shopping!
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