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Handy Tips for Understanding a Car Loan
Handy Tips for Understanding a Car Loan Buying a new car can be an exciting time, until you try to get a car loan. There are so many fees, interest choices and time lengths that one can get discouraged and forgo the new vehicle all together. However, if you take the time to learn the mysteries behind car loans you will find it's not such a confusing subject at all. Below are some handy tips to help you understand the ins and outs of a car loan.
How much can I borrow?
In most cases, a car loan company will allow you to borrow as much as you need to finance the cost of the car and cover any fees, loan insurance and comprehensive vehicle insurance.
Most vehicle loan institutions mandate a minimum of $10,000 to be borrowed over varying amounts of time. You may or may not be expected to pay a deposit on the loan. Most car loans are available for used or new cars, purchased privately or for a business as long as they are less than seven years old.
There are two main kinds of interest rates when considering a vehicle loan: fixed interest or variable interest rates.
A fixed interest rate means the rate remains the same for the length of the car loan. So if you lock in to a 10% interest rate you'll know exactly how much money you'll pay for the life of the loan. If you are on a tight budget then a fixed interest rate would be the right choice for you, as you can rest easy knowing how much you will pay each month.
A variable interest rate means that the rate can change and fluctuate with the market during the life of the loan. So if you take the loan out at the above 10%, your rate may stay the same, rise or drop many times within the loan's life.
If interest rates are high to begin with and the rates drop then a variable interest rate will mean lower payments each month, resulting in a tidy savings. However, if the market tanks and interest rates rise, you could be looking at paying much, much more a month than you anticipated.
Secured vs. Unsecured
There are two main types of car loans you can apply for: secured or unsecured. Each have definite advantages and disadvantages, so make sure you read the details carefully so you know what you're getting into.
These are car loans that take something into consideration as collateral against your loan debt in the event that you default on your payments. In this case, your car will be used as collateral.
If you don't pay your loan the company has the right to repossess your car and sell it to regain the money you borrowed. The advantage for you is that a secured loan is often offered at a lower interest rate because the risk of the bank or institution not getting their money is lower than when they lend money in an unsecured loan.
An unsecured car loan is one that doesn't use the car as collateral. This type of loan is offered at a higher interest rate but if you default on the loan the company can't repossess your car. You may have to take out an unsecured loan if you are looking to buy an older car, since the car may not have enough value to serve as collateral.
If you're unsure of what your employment status will be two years down the road, or if you know you'll need surgery in the next year then loan insurance might be a good option to look into. Some car loan lenders will offer a discount on your interest rate if you procure loan insurance. Loan insurance protects you if you're disabled, or lose your employment.
Consider time into the equation
Your car loan will have different options on the length of time to pay the loan back. Typically varying from 12 months to 5 years (some companies offer six years or longer), the amount of time you choose to pay your loan back is important in many ways.
The longer you take to pay back your car loan the more interest you will pay over the life of the loan. Longer amounts of time usually result in a lower monthly payment, but an overall higher interest rate. Shorter time periods mean larger monthly payments but the amount paid out in interest is much less.
So 'No' to Fees
Banks and loan institutions don't make money on just the interest rate of your car loan these days. They add in some other fees to make sure you keep paying and paying, even if you want to pay the loan early. When looking for a car loan make sure you research the following fees and look for a loan that offers as low a fee as possible.
Some banks and car loan companies will charge an application fee. This covers the work done researching your information and processing your loan. If you can, find a loan with a low or even better, no application fee.
Some banks will charge you a small, monthly fee for the length of your loan. Though it may not seem like much, that $3 a month or more charge adds up over the years. For example, paying a $3 a month service fee on your car loan for a period of 7 years adds up to an additional $252 in fees.
Cash vs. electronic payment:
Some banks encourage electronic payment of car loans by issuing a fee if you choose to get a cash payment booklet instead. In this case, it might be in your best interest to waive the $100 or so fee and go electronic.
Early payment fees:
Paying your loan off early may seem like an attractive idea at first until you read the fine print and learn that you'll probably pay a fee for doing just that. Banks and loan companies don't want to lose money on the interest you pay them every month, and if you pay early that's exactly what will happen. To ensure they get a piece of their share they institute a fee for paying your car loan off early.
Now that you know the differences in interest rates and what fees you might be charged if you're not paying attention, along with lots of other handy tips, you can rest easy when applying for that car loan. You will get out of the car loan office and behind the driver's wheel that much quicker.
About the Author:
Do you need financing for a car purchase? Whenever you're in Australia and need a car loan, make Start Local your first stop. Start Local is Australia's fastest growing local search engine and business directory. Find the most comprehensive information about car loans at => www.startlocal.com.au/finance/carloans/
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