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I would like to borrow
To pay back over
3.5 years

Representative Example: Borrowing £5,500 over 48 months with a representative APR of 19.8%, the amount payable would be £163 a month, with a total cost of credit of £2,283 and a total amount payable of £7,783.

Are car loans secured or unsecured?

If you’re taking out a loan for the purpose of purchasing a car, there are a number of factors you need to consider. One of them is whether your borrowing is secured or unsecured.

Secured vs. unsecured

Car loans can be secured or unsecured, depending on the particulars of the plan you take out. When taking out car finance, your loan provider should tell you whether or not your loan is secured or unsecured. The main difference lies in the fact that the car will be used as security for a secured loan. This makes for less risk to the lender. Unsecured loans tend to have higher interest rates, to reflect the increased risk to the lender.

Secured loans

In the case of a secured car loan, the lender uses the car as security against you being unable to pay back the loan. The lower risk often means that lower interest rates will be available for secured loans, in comparison to their unsecured counterparts.

The risk of a secured car loan is higher to the consumer, because the lender can take possession of the car if you fall behind with loan repayments.

The main benefit of a secured loan is that you are far more likely to access better rates of interest. However, these rates may be variable. It’s advisable to check very carefully, as you could end up paying more per month than when you started out if rates increase during the term.

The key disadvantage of a secured car loan is the risk of losing the car if you cannot keep up with repayments, as well as the fact that you do not truly own the vehicle until the loan is cleared.

Unsecured loans

An unsecured loan is simpler. You borrow the loan amount from the lender, and pay back regular sums, usually each month, until the sum borrowed is repaid in full.

Unsecured loans are more risky for lenders, as they do not have the security of an asset to fall back on if you fail to make repayments. This increased risk means that interest rates for unsecured loans tend to be higher than those for secured loans.

There are additional risks to the borrower as well as the lender. Additional charges may be applied for late payment, or if you do not make payment at all. This sort of circumstance can harm your credit score, meaning that future borrowing could be more restricted, or even denied. If your credit rating falls, you are also likely to have to pay higher rates of interest on any future loans, including mortgages.

If necessary, the lender of an unsecured loan can take the case to court in an attempt to recoup their money. This could lead to demands being made on other borrowing, such as your home loan.

Finding the right loan

Taking some simple steps can help you get a suitable loan:

Check with your mortgage lender

If you are a homeowner, it’s a good idea to consult your mortgage lender regarding what they might be willing to lend you and on what terms. As they are familiar with your repayment record, they may be more willing to offer the best rates of interest and better terms.

Check what else is out there

Have a look at what other deals are available before you sign up to anything. You can do this quickly and easily using comparison sites, but bear in mind that this will not give the full picture, as some lenders may not be listed.

Protect your credit rating

If you are shopping around, check first that any trial applications will not affect your credit score. Sometimes lenders do a credit check before they even give a quote. This can make it seem like you have applied for a lot of loans, which in turn can have a detrimental effect on your credit rating. Request a ‘quotation search’ instead, as this will not appear on your credit file.

Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

Lying on a car loan application is a form of fraud and is illegal. If you’re found to have done this, you could face prosecution and you may find it harder to get credit in the future.

When you’re applying for finance for a used car, it’s useful to have the relevant supporting documents such as information on your vehicle of choice, your financial details and proof of address and income. You may also need a deposit.

Yes, certain lenders will consider offering finance for a vehicle that is sold privately.

In most cases, car finance providers pay for or provide your vehicle after you pay a deposit. Then, over the course of an agreed repayment period, you’ll pay off some or all of the price. The product you choose will decide what happens at the end of the agreement – but common options include taking ownership of the car, handing it back, or upgrading it.

Yes, you can refinance your car loan. However, you should carefully assess the pros and cons of doing so before you make a decision.

Car finance companies don’t usually contact employers to assess eligibility. However, in some circumstances, they might.

Car finance is a loan – but it’s one that’s often secured against the vehicle you’ve decided you want. As such, it’s often viewed a little differently to a personal loan – which is not secured against anything.

The number of years banks will finance a used car for depends on the particular agreement you enter into. Usually, agreements are available for terms of between 12 and 60 months.

Buying a used car with a finance agreement can be a good option. As with any financial agreement though, it’s always important to check the details carefully and to consider the pros and cons.

The simplest way to find out how much is left on your car finance agreement is to contact your lender. Alternatively, you can calculate this figure yourself.