Most vehicles – unless they’re classic cars – quickly go down in value, not up. So borrowing to buy a car can have a serious impact on our finances. Take time to think through all the options for a car loan when financing that set of wheels!
To find a car loan that won't cost a bomb, compare all the finance options before stepping into a car yard.
Banks and credit unions offer pre-approved loans that let you know in advance how much you can borrow.
Homeowners may be able to extend their mortgage or use a ‘revolving credit’ loan. This is a way to borrow for a car at the mortgage interest rate, which is probably lower than other loan rates.
But if we add the cost of a car to a mortgage and don’t pay it off for many years, it will end up costing a lot more in interest overall than compared to paying off a car loan in one or two years.
So when going down this route, it’s smart to increase those mortgage repayments to clear the car debt as fast as possible. We don’t want to end up still paying for an old car while trying to pay off a new one!
Car dealers often offer car loans that are actually provided by a finance company. The dealer will often sign us up for a car loan as part of the purchase process.
Interest rates on car loans can vary widely, so we need to shop around. Agreeing to a car loan ‘secured’ by the car usually means a lower interest rate. This means if we don’t meet the repayments, the lender can sell the car to recover the money owing.
If we have an existing relationship with a lender, it’s often easier to access cheaper loans. For example, a credit union might offer car loans with better terms to its current members.
There are always fees and charges involved when getting a car loan. The documents the lender provides should show these clearly.
Expect to pay a loan establishment fee. Some lenders may encourage optional insurances or warranties. These will all add to the total amount borrowed.
Some lenders offer loan repayment insurance. This generally means that if the borrower dies, the insurer pays the lender the full amount owing. These policies also cover loss of income, such as through accident, illness or redundancy, so repayments are made for a period of time specified in the policy.
The repayment insurance premium can be expensive and not always easy to see in the loan contract. If the premium is added to the loan, you will be paying interest on the premium as well as the car loan itself.
It may also be an unnecessary cost. For example, someone not in paid work won’t need cover for redundancy.
The Consumer Protection website has information to help you decide whether to get insurance when buying on credit.
By law, lenders must provide a ‘disclosure statement’ outlining:
It’s important to ask for a copy of the disclosure statement and read it carefully before signing up for a loan. The Consumer website has more about borrowers’ rights.