ASIC bans flex commissions to encourage fairer car finance

ASIC bans flex commissions to encourage fairer car finance

A formal ban on car finance flex commissions has been introduced by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), to help protect financially inexperienced consumers from excessive interest charges on their car loans.

Flex commissions are paid by lenders to car finance brokers (typically car dealers), and are based on the car loan interest rates set by these brokers. The higher the rate, the larger the flex commission the broker receives. In some cases up to 80% of the flex amount (the difference between the lender’s base rate and the dealer’s interest rate) can go to the dealer.

Two previous rounds of ASIC consultations with industry bodies, lenders, car deals and consumer groups found that flex commissions create poor consumer outcomes, with borrowers potentially paying thousands of dollars more for their car loans than necessary. Based on approximately 25,500 contracts written by seven lenders in May 2013, ASIC found that about 15% of consumers (approximately 3800 people a month) were charged an interest rate of 700 basis points (7%) or more above the base rate.

ASIC deputy chair, Peter Kell, said that the industry-wide ban was necessary to create a more level playing field for both lenders and consumers, as while many lenders recognised the issues with flex commissions, ceasing to pay them would have put these lenders at a competitive disadvantage.

“Most consumers would be surprised to learn that when you are buying a car on finance, the car dealer can, for example, decide whether you will be charged an interest rate of 7% or one of 14% – regardless of your credit history. Flex commissions do not operate in a fair and transparent way, and ASIC’s action will ensure that consumers are not charged excessive interest rates.” 

The new ASIC legislation still provides car dealers with some flexibility in setting the interest rates for dealer finance, allowing them to discount the interest rates they offer and receive lower commissions so that their customers can enjoy lower credit costs.

Lenders and dealerships will have until November 2018 to update their arrangements to comply with the new law.

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Learn more about car loans

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.

What is CTP insurance?

CTP insurance, also known as compulsory third-party insurance or a green slip, is compulsory if you want to register a vehicle in Australia. If you’re responsible for a car accident, your CTP insurance will be used to pay any compensation due to anyone who might be injured or killed. However, CTP insurance doesn’t cover you for vehicle damage or theft.

What is a dealership?

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

What is proof of income?

Before giving you a car loan, lenders will ask for proof of income – documentary evidence that you earn as much as you claim you earn. Lenders will typically want some combination of tax returns, pay slips and bank statements. The reason lenders want proof of income is because they want to be sure you have the means to repay the car loan.

Can I get a car loan with poor credit?

Poor credit doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to get finance for your car purchase, though your options aren’t likely to be the same as someone with good credit.

In fact, a number of specialist lenders exist offering car finance for customers with poor credit, able to provide access to bad credit car loans.

However having a history of poor credit will likely mark you as a potential risk to lenders, so your car financing needs could see higher fees and interest rates. Alternatively, consider a secured car loan, which is a type of loan that uses the car you purchase as collateral, reducing the risk.

Other options include getting someone close to act as a guarantor for your car loan, or to talk to a broker about a personalised rate specific to your circumstances.

Can I get car finance on a pension?

 

Yes, as long as you meet basic criteria set out by lenders you are eligible for car finance. Your interest rate will be determined based on your financial history which can be found in your credit report, your income and any property you may own.

Comparing car loans for pensioners before you settle on one is important though, if you want to secure the best possible loan for your circumstances.

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. 

Where can I find lenders who offer no credit check car loans?

There are companies that claim to offer no credit check car loans. However, you may find that companies that offer no credit check car loans have high fees and high interest rates.

You might be better off finding a specialist lender who will look at your credit history and income, who will decide whether or not you are able to responsibility pay back the loan. Alternatively, you could contact a car finance broker.

What is a finance broker?

Finance brokers help borrowers organise car loans with lenders – that is, they act as middlemen between borrowers and lenders. While lenders will only recommend their own products, finance brokers recommend products from a range of lenders. Finance brokers need to be accredited with a lender to do business with that lender; a typical broker will be accredited with between 10 and 30 lenders. Finance brokers generally don’t charge consumers; instead, they receive commission payments from lenders.

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.

Where can I find lenders who offer no credit check car loans?

You can find lenders who offer no credit check car loans through comparison sites like RateCity or by doing an online search.

One thing to bear in mind is that lenders who offer no credit check car loans are likely to charge higher interest rates and higher fees than on car loans that include a credit check. Also, lenders who no credit check car loans might expect you to pay a higher deposit. You might also be expected to provide security.

Lenders regard no credit check car loans as riskier than other car loans, which is why it’s a niche product that often features special conditions.

How much is your car worth?

If you already own a car, you could potentially bring down the cost by selling your car in the process. Before that happens, though, you’ll need to find out how much your car is worth.

One of the first places to find this value is to research the value of your current car, giving you an idea of roughly how much it’s worth in its peak condition.

There are plenty of websites that offer a free online valuation, allowing you to enter your car’s make, model, year, badge and description, with results listing a price guide based on both selling your car privately and through a dealership.

Of course, dealerships will try to profit on your trade-in by buying it for less than they can sell it, making it highly unlikely that you’ll get the same price selling a car to a dealer as you would selling a car privately.

However, private car sales can be costly and can take months to sell, making car trading more convenient with a guaranteed return, even if you may not be able to realise the total value of your car’s worth.

Remember that everything is negotiable. If the dealership is offering you less for your trade than you wanted, try to negotiate elsewhere to gain that money back. Start by negotiating on the price of the trade and then ask them if they can give you a further discount on your new car.

Can I get a no credit check car loan?

You may be able to get a no credit check car loan in certain circumstances, although it’s important to weigh up your options before doing so.

Most lenders refuse to provide no credit check car loans, because they don’t want to give loans to borrowers without first confirming that they have a track record of repaying debts. So any lenders that do provide no credit check car loans would take measures to protect themselves against the risk of default.

That’s why no credit check car loans have higher interest rates than other car loans. Also, borrowers often have to provide security and put down a larger deposit.

What is an unsecured car loan?

An unsecured car loan is a loan that is not connected to a form of security, or collateral. Not all lenders provide unsecured car loans – and if they do, they generally charge higher interest rates for their unsecured car loans than their secured car loans.