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How do rent-to-buy cars work?

How do rent-to-buy cars work?

Some car-related terms and phrases are complicated, but rent-to-own isn’t one of them. In fact, the meaning of rent-to-own is exactly what the name suggests. You rent the car during the agreement period, and at the end of this term, you become its owner.

How does rent-to-own work?

After your home, your car is possibly the most expensive purchase you’ll make. Often people fund the purchase with a car loan. However, if you have a bad credit history or a low credit score, you may find it challenging to get auto finance. Rent-to-own cars are another option. Basically, it allows you to own a vehicle without a traditional loan.

Under a rent to buy cars agreement, you’ll pay for its weekly use. You enter into a contract and will buy the vehicle at the end of the agreement period. The weekly payments cover the use of the car and contribute towards its ultimate purchase.

Once the rental period ends and you make the final payment, the ownership is transferred to you. The contract may require you to make a down payment at the start of the term or a lump sum amount at the end of the agreement period.

Pros and cons of rent-to-own

Rent-to-own may seem an attractive option, especially if you’re not eligible for a regular auto loan due to a low credit score. However, before you rush into the decision, you must do your research and understand the terms and conditions of rent-to-own car loans. Sometimes, this arrangement may cost you more over a longer term.

Is a rent-to-own car arrangement right for you? That comes down to your personal situation and preferences. Consider the following pros and cons to make an informed decision:


Pros of rent-to-own cars

  1. When compared to regular auto finance, rent-to-own agreements do not require extensive credit checks. Some lenders may not even do a credit check, which means you’re more likely to get approval even with a poor credit history. Don’t forget to check the rental amount against your budget to ensure that you can manage the payments each month.
  2. As there is no loan, rent-to-own arrangements do not have any interest component. If you opt for a regular car loan, the interest could stack up to several thousand dollars during its duration.
  3. When you make regular rental payments, it can help improve your credit score. Of course, your credit score may be negatively impacted if you delay or default on the rental payments.
  4. Some agreements for rent-to-buy cars include your insurance and registration costs as part of the weekly payments. This way, the amount you have to pay remains the same, and you can budget your expenses more easily. 


Cons of rent-to-own cars

Of course, there are several cons to consider as well. 

  1. For the duration of your rental, the company retains ownership, which is not transferred to you until the last payment. You don’t have the freedom to make changes to the vehicle to suit your needs. Additionally, you cannot use the car as security for another loan.
  2. As per the rent-to-own agreement, you may have to make a lump sum payment at the end of the contractual period to gain ownership of the car. The amount varies, and you should read the fine print to understand how much this will be if you go down this route before signing the contract.
  3. Compared to other options, rent-to-own car agreements may come with higher fees, such as costs for direct debit, account keeping, termination fees (if you break the contract before its end), and late payment penalty. Some of these charges may be substantial, and when combined with the rental payments, the rent-to-own contract may become very expensive over the long term.
  4. A regular car loan has a monthly instalment; however, rent-to-own contracts usually require more frequent payments. So you have to remember and manage these weekly payouts.

Before you opt for the rent-to-own option, take into account the pros and cons. You may need to pay higher setup fees for rent-to-own deals. Evaluate whether rent-to-own suits your financial situation and objectives. 

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Fact Checked -

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Alex Ritchie before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about car loans

Can you get a chattel mortgage with bad credit?

Getting approval for a chattel mortgage with bad credit may be possible, given ‘chattel’ (usually a piece of equipment or car) is put up as security for the loan. That means if you fail to repay the loan, the creditor can recover the loaned amount by repossessing and selling the car or piece of equipment. This differs from unsecured car loans, where the asset is not tied to the loan and cannot be taken if you don’t meet the repayments. 

How to get a chattel mortgage?

Both businesses and individuals may use a chattel mortgage, provided that the car is being used predominantly for business purposes. 

To apply for a chattel mortgage, you need to first consider your options and choose a suitable lender that meets your requirements. Once you have selected a lender, you can apply for the loan online by filling out a form. If the lender doesn’t offer an online application process, you can either call them or visit their nearest branch. 

After you’ve applied, the lender will ask you to supply documents that confirm your identification, income, job profile, etc. If everything is in order, most lenders will arrange the loan’s settlement, so all you need to do is pick up your car!

Where can I find car loans for single mothers?

Single mothers can sometimes find that due to their circumstances the bigger banks can be less inclined to lend to them, but there are smaller companies and specialist lenders who can be willing to provide loans to people in a range of circumstances.

Single mothers could benefit from getting in touch with a car finance broker, as a broker is likely to have knowledge and access to options that are suited to their needs.

Advantages to using a broker:

  • Finance brokers often don’t charge for their services as they work on a commission basis from lenders.
  • Brokers will have industry knowledge and contacts within lending companies and is therefore more likely to be able to find the best deal for your circumstances.
  • Brokers are qualified professionals who are licensed under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act so have an obligation to follow responsible lending practices and to work in your best interests.

Find car finance through a broker.

I’ve been denied a car loan before; can I still get car finance?

Even if you’ve been denied a car loan before, you might still be able to get car finance. The key is to make the right application to the right lender.

The ‘right’ application is one that makes you look like an acceptable risk, which might include things like improving your credit score, increasing your savings rate and accumulating a bigger deposit.

The ‘right’ lender is one that deals with borrowers like you. For example, while some car loan lenders only deal with good credit borrowers, there are others that specialise in bad credit or poor credit borrowers.

Who provides bad credit car loans?

Lenders that provide bad credit car loans tend to be smaller challenger lenders rather than the bigger banks.

Bad credit car loans are a niche product. The bigger banks tend to focus on mainstream car loan finance for borrowers with better credit histories. That’s why smaller lenders tend to be the ones that provide bad credit car loans.

Bad credit car loans can have high interest rates and fees, so it’s important to compare options before submitting an application.

What is a guarantor on a car loan?

A guarantor on a car loan is a third party, usually a relative or friend, who guarantees to meet the repayments of a loan for the purchase of a car, if the borrower/owner of the car defaults on the loan.

Guarantor car loans can be useful for people who would otherwise struggle in being accepted for credit to purchase a vehicle. These may include people with bad credit, students and young people who may have no credit history, as well as some pensioners.

Many lenders offer guarantor car loans, guarantor personal loans and guarantor home loans, because of the significantly reduced risk to the lender.

Can I get a car loan with bad credit?

Yes, you can get a car loan with bad credit, although you’ll probably find the process trickier and dearer than that experienced by people who have good credit histories.

You can find a number of lenders that specialise in bad credit car loans. However, make sure you compare bad credit car loans before you sign on the dotted line, because not all car loans are alike and having bad credit may mean you are more likely to be hit with higher fees and interest rates.

If you have bad credit, it’s important not to take out a car loan unless you can afford the repayments because a default could further damage your credit rating. Conversely, if you make all the repayments and repay the loan successfully, your credit rating might improve.

Does having a guarantor on a car loan lower your interest rate?

While it’s not necessarily a guarantee, having a guarantor on your car loan will improve your chances of having your application accepted, and may mean that you are able to attain a lower interest rate loan.

Having a guarantor with excellent credit history and/or is a property owner reduces the risk to the lender because the payments are guaranteed by someone who is considered to be financially secure and reliable.

As such, even if your credit history isn’t perfect, a guarantor may be able to help you secure a lower rate from some lenders.

Can you terminate your chattel mortgage early?

Some lenders might provide you with an option to terminate your chattel mortgage early by repaying the full amount before the term is over. This way, your overall loan term decreases, therefore reducing the interest you need to pay.

It’s important to note that some lenders might charge a fee for you to pay off your chattel mortgage early. So, if you’re planning to terminate your chattel mortgage early, make sure you check if your lender allows you to do this. You should also determine if there are any additional fees or charges that you would need to pay to do this.

How does a chattel mortgage work?

A chattel mortgage is a loan issued to a person or a corporation for movable property. The movable property could include automobiles, yachts or boats, mobile homes, caravans or trailers. The term chattel in chattel mortgage refers to the movable property  used as collateral or security for the loan.

In a chattel mortgage, the loan is backed by 'chattel,' which the lender retains ownership of until the full loan has been repaid. Usually, the interest rate charged on such mortgages is lower. Repayments can also be fixed, which means you know exactly how much you’re repaying each month.

The most significant benefit for the lender is that the properties held as insurance are movable and can be sold easily if the borrower defaults.

Can an individual apply for a chattel mortgage?

Lenders offer chattel mortgages as a way to finance vehicles used for business purposes. Companies, as well as individuals, are eligible to apply for and receive chattel mortgages. The essential eligibility requirement is that the vehicle is used for business at least 51 per cent of the time. If you’re a tradesman and require a new utility vehicle to move equipment, you can apply for a chattel mortgage to finance the purchase.

A chattel mortgage for individuals is an option if you’re self-employed and have an Australian Business Number (ABN). You’ll also need to be registered for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and have a clear credit history. Like all other loan types, you’ll have to prove your capability to service the loan to qualify for a chattel mortgage.

You’ll retain the ownership while the lender holds the vehicle as security for the loan in a similar way as they would a property with a home loan. You repay the borrowed amount in predetermined monthly instalments. Once you repay the entire loan amount, the lender will remove the mortgage.

What are the chattel mortgage tax benefits?

Buying a vehicle with a chattel mortgage can help to reduce your tax burden. The tax benefits you can get from a chattel mortgage include:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): GST is paid when you buy a new vehicle. You can claim the GST credit for vehicles and other goods or services used for commercial use. The GST paid when you buy the car is claimed as an Input Tax Credit if your business is registered for the GST in your Bank Activity Statement (BAS).
  • Interest payments: You can claim the interest paid on your chattel mortgage as a deduction in your annual tax returns.
  • Depreciation: The longer you own the vehicle, its value will depreciate, and you can claim this depreciation as a tax deduction.

You should consult an experienced tax professional for more information about chattel mortgage tax benefits.

What do I need to apply for a chattel mortgage?

Chattel mortgages are a form of secured car loan for businesses. The lender will set up a mortgage, while you take the car’s ownership. When the mortgage is paid off, you own the car. The borrowed amount is repaid through regular installments over a fixed period of time.

To qualify, you’ll have to meet the following chattel mortgage requirements:

  • The car should be used for business purposes at least 51 per cent of the time.
  • You must hold a valid Australian Business Number (ABN).
  • You must show you can service the loan on time
  • Identity proof
  • Financial records, such as profit and loss account and balance sheet
  • Details of the vehicle you want to buy
  • Bank statement for your business

How to get pre-approved for a credit union car loan?

Getting pre-approval for a credit union car loan can make the process and paperwork required to buy a car more streamlined and less stressful. You can apply for pre-approval for a credit union car loan, online or contact your credit union. You’ll be asked to provide relevant documentation regarding your income. After you submit your application, your credit union will review and evaluate it along with the documents you submitted. If you meet the eligibility criteria, your loan will be pre-approved for a specific amount.

With pre-approval for a credit union car loan in hand, you can negotiate your new car’s price with peace of mind you have the funds.