If you’ve just passed your driving test, you may be keen to hit the road with your own set of wheels as soon as possible. What do you do, though, if you can’t afford to buy a car outright? Perhaps you could buy something with cash you’ve saved, but it’s not really the car you want or it may seem that it won’t last you for long. In these circumstances, can you get a car loan at 17 to finance your purchase?
The short answer is no. However, there are alternatives to consider.
Since loans are only available to those aged 18 and over in the UK, car finance is not available to 17 year olds. This is why people of this age tend to buy cars by borrowing money from a family member, or using their own savings.
If you don’t want to or can’t do this, you will have to wait until you’re 18. At this age, it can still be tricky to secure finance, but it is allowed.
Preparing for purchase
There are things you can do to prepare for buying a car while you’re waiting to turn 18. You can save money, and you could approach your parents to see if they can help. You can also start to look carefully into the costs associated with buying a car.
Insurance is expensive for anyone aged 17 or 18, but certain cars are much cheaper to insure than others, so it’s worth making sure such cars are on your shortlist.
It is also very worthwhile registering to vote. Although you can’t vote at all until you reach 18, you can register to vote from the age of 16. The reason for doing this is to help your credit rating, which takes time to build up. Being listed on the electoral roll from an earlier age should enhance your chances of securing finance in the future.
Standard car finance
Once you reach 18, you may be eligible for car finance such as a loan or dealer finance package, but it can still be very difficult to get. As mentioned above, ensure you’re on the electoral roll, and if you are in full-time employment, this will obviously boost your chances.
Guarantor car finance
Another way to secure car finance at 18 is to use a guarantor. Often a parent, the guarantor exists to reassure the finance provider that payments will be made. Thus if you fall behind, your guarantor will become liable.
Beware credit checks when you apply for finance. If, for example, you applied for a number of loans with a range of lenders, this may have a negative impact on your credit rating. A ‘hard credit check’ results in a record on your credit file, whereas a ‘soft credit check’ does not. If in doubt, ask first.
Make sure you can afford the payments, even if your circumstances change. It is also a good idea to add up what you will really be paying for the car, once you factor in finance interest and other costs.
Age 19 to 20
It does get easier to obtain car finance as you get older. The same sort of checks will still be carried out as for 18-year-olds, however. It may therefore still be easier to use a guarantor.
It can be helpful to have a credit card that is paid off every month, as well as having a regular, reliable income. Both of these things will enhance your credit score.
21 year olds
Once you hit 21, things generally get easier, but it will still help to have a good credit rating to secure the best finance deals - as is the case at any age.