There are a number of reasons why you might want to rethink your car finance. Perhaps you believe you can get a better deal now than when you took out the original loan. Maybe you want to reduce your monthly payments, or you wish to keep the car beyond the end of an existing agreement. You may therefore be asking ‘can you refinance your car loan?’
The short answer is yes, you can refinance your car. Like all financial commitments, you should weigh up the pros and cons very carefully. The following guide may help you make up your mind.
Reasons to refinance
You may be able to secure a new deal at a better rate of interest than your current finance package. This could lower your monthly payments, as well as the total sum payable.
If your current deal is a hire purchase (HP) or personal contract plan (PCP) agreement, then you might be able to own the car sooner if you take out a loan to settle the finance. You may also take out a loan to finance the lump sum, or ‘balloon payment’, due at the end of a PCP agreement if you want to keep the vehicle. This is therefore another form of car refinancing, and is an effective way to spread the cost of the balloon payment.
Factors to consider
If you take out the new finance over a longer period of time, the total amount payable may increase rather than decrease. Check carefully what you will pay in total before you take out a new agreement.
Secured vs unsecured loans
If you take out a loan which is secured on the car, then you still do not fully own the car until the loan is completely settled, because the lender can claim ownership of the car if payments are not made. With an unsecured loan, you would become the car’s owner from the outset.
If you refinance your car at the end of a PCP deal, then you will carry on paying interest.
A car’s value tends to fall quite quickly after purchase. If the value of the vehicle depreciates more quickly than you make payments, then you may owe more on the car than it is worth. This often happens with car finance, and resolves over time, but if refinancing puts you into negative equity then this may affect the interest rates you’re offered. It may also have some bearing on how willing lenders are to offer you a deal at all.
How does refinancing work?
The new lender would provide the money to enable you to pay off the existing finance to the original lender, and you would enter into a contract with the new lender.
Do I have to change lender?
Many people who refinance their car loan do sign up with a different lender, but you may not need to do this. You may be able to secure a new deal with your existing lender. To do this, you can contact the lender directly, or use a car loan broker who may negotiate a new deal on your behalf.
Would refinancing affect my credit score?
It’s wise to consider your credit rating, as it will determine your chances of securing future finance. As long as you have kept up with payments on the original finance agreement, and continue to do so with the new agreement, your credit score will be protected. In fact, if you have a good payment record with the original finance provider, this might even help you secure a better rate of interest when refinancing.