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What is a fast car loan?

A car loan is considered ‘fast’ when a lender approves and transfers funds to a borrower within 72 hours.

Quick car loans can be convenient if you’ve found your dream ride at a dealership and want to snap it up before someone else does; need a new car for work purposes; have to replace your old wheels; or are in any other situation where you just need a car fast.

The time it takes to get a quick car loan approval depends on the lender and whether the in-store or online application is simple and straightforward. If the lender needs additional information or documents from you, you may need to wait longer than expected for your quick car loan approval. 

In today’s highly competitive car loan market, a lot of lenders are offering speedy service to win your business. Make sure you compare fast car loans across Australia before you pick just any loan though, to ensure you meet the lending criteria, don’t overlook important details, and are getting the best deal for your needs. Pay particular attention to fees and total loan costs, as these will affect how much money you’re keeping in your pocket over the life of your loan.

How easy is it to get a car loan?

Quick car loans work in the same way as regular car loans in terms of interest rates, loan terms, and loan amounts, as well as having the option of a secured car loan or unsecured car loan. The key difference is shorter turnaround time, thanks to the speedier approval process.

The standard car loan application process involves:

Credit score check

Your credit score or credit rating is a number, based on your credit history, that helps lenders determine how trustworthy you are as a borrower. The higher the score, the more likely a lender will loan you money, and potentially give you lower interest rates. You can check your credit score with RateCity’s free credit score calculator

If bad credit is a concern, it's worth shopping around as there are some lenders that offer bad credit car loans (note, they usually come with higher loan rates to compensate for the increased lender risk).

Passing on paperwork

Lenders require a set of financial and personal documentation to help them decide whether or not to give you a loan.

Paperwork that lenders generally ask for include:

  • income statements or tax returns, depending on whether you're self-employed or an employee
  • proof of your current ongoing expenses, such as bills or rent
  • current bank statements to show your saving and monthly repayments history
  • assets and liabilities, such as properties you own or other loans you have
  • personal identification, such as a driver’s license, passport or Medicare card
  • details on your vehicle, including make, model, registration number, engine number and purchase price, as well as if it’s a new or used car.

Eligibility check

It’s standard for lenders to check if you meet the eligibility criteria of the easy car loan you applied for. The minimum requirements for taking out a car loan in Australia are that you are over 18 years of age, an Australian citizen (or permanent resident) and earning an income. Lenders conduct eligibility criteria checks because it’s part of their protocol as a responsible lender to ensure that any loan product they approve will not put the borrower at harm of financial instability or risk.

What are the benefits and risks of a fast car loan?
  • You may be able to secure funds and make a car purchase faster, so you could hit the road sooner
  • The application process is relatively hassle-free and can usually be conducted online
  • You may be charged a higher interest rate and/or fees (including establishment fees and ongoing fees) to compensate for the prompt turnaround
  • Lenders may still take longer to make a decision if they need more information from you
  • Not every lender provides fast approval or express services
  • Approval is not guaranteed

Can a car loan pre-approval help me buy a car quickly?

Some buyers want to know if a lender is willing to lend them money before they start putting in loan offers for fast car finance. This is where pre-approval comes in.

Pre-approval is when a lender agrees to lend you a certain amount of money before you purchase a car. Keep in mind that you still need to provide the lender with the usual documentation, even if you’re only applying for pre-approval.

As a buyer, gaining a better idea of the amount a lender is willing to actually lend you is an important part of the decision-making process, and will help you avoid over-stretching your budget. Additionally, because the approval is conditional and not a guarantee, it allows you or the lender to back out if the situation changes.

Pre-approvals often expire after a set period of time—typically within one to three months. If your pre-approval expires, you’ll either need to reapply or opt for an unconditional loan (this is the next step after your loan application has been reviewed, when the lender is prepared to give you a loan for a certain amount, for a certain vehicle). 

If you’re looking for quick car loan approval but haven’t decided which car you want, getting pre-approval may help speed up the loan process and it allows you to act quickly when you see your dream car, without having to delay the purchase while you go on the hunt for a loan.

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What alternatives are there if you need a car fast?

If you need a vehicle quickly, but don’t want to take out a fast, easy car loan, there are other options available.

  • Car rental: With a car rental, you can hire a vehicle for a set period of time, to tide you over until you’re able to purchase one. Most car rental services offer a wide selection of vehicles, including cars, trucks, vans, utes, 4WDs, and motorbikes, so you’re likely to find something to suit your needs. Before you rent, be sure to read all the terms and conditions, including driver’s licence and age requirements; vehicle protection; security deposit; and fees, so you know exactly what you’re on the hook for.
  • On-demand car booking: While this option means you’ll be relegated to the passenger seat, on-demand car booking allows you to get a ride where and when you need it. Keep in mind that you’ll be charged per trip, which can quickly rack up costs and might make this more of a short-term option.

How do you get a car loan?

There are four different ways you can get a car loan. You can go straight to a lender. You can get a finance broker to organise a car loan for you. You can get ‘dealer finance’ – which is when the car dealer organises a car loan for you. Or you can organise your own car loan through a comparison website, like RateCity.

Whichever method you choose, you will need to provide proof of identification, proof of income and proof of savings. So you may be asked for any combination of passport, driver’s licence, bank statements, payslips, tax returns and utility bills. You might also be asked to provide proof of insurance.

What is a car loan?

A car loan, also known as vehicle finance, is money that a consumer borrows with the express purpose of buying a vehicle, such as a car, motorbike, van, truck or campervan. Car loans can be used for both new and used vehicles.

What is vehicle finance?

Vehicle finance, also known as a car loan, is money that a consumer borrows with the express purpose of buying a vehicle, such as a car, motorbike, van, truck or campervan. Vehicle finance can be used for both new and used vehicles.

What is a dealership?

A dealership is a car yard or a place where cars are sold.

What is dealer finance?

Dealer finance is a car loan organised through a car dealer – as opposed to car loans organised by a finance broker or directly by the lender.

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