What is a secured car loan?

A secured car loan is a personal loan that is guaranteed against the value of an asset, usually the car itself. This means that something valuable will act as ‘security’ against your loan in case you can’t pay it off, in which case the lender may seize the asset to cover their losses.

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How does a secured car loan work?

Putting an asset up as collateral on a loan reduces the financial risk to the lender, so secured car loans typically have more competitive interest rates than unsecured car loans. Additionally, lenders may be prepared to offer a higher loan amount on a secured loan compared to an unsecured loan.

What are the benefits and risks of a secured car loan?

As a secured car loan is guaranteed against the value of your car or another asset, lenders won't generally lose money if you default. This means they will charge lower interest rates compared to unsecured car loans. 

Secured car loans may be a competitive option for borrowers with less stable finances such as contractors or the self-employed, as they may be more likely to be get approved finance.  Those with poor credit history too have a higher chance of receiving approval for a secured car loan. This is because the security of the car reduces the risk to the lender. However, be aware that if you default on your secured car loan, you can lose the car itself.

There may also be limitations as to what kind of car you can buy with your secured loan. As mentioned above, some lenders only offer secured car loans for brand new cars, or used cars under a certain age. Others may refuse to offer secured loans for certain car models or sports cars.

How do you choose a secured car loan

The best way to compare secured car loans is to look at their rates, features and fees. Use RateCity’s comparison table to examine the following loan characteristics: 

What to look for About
Loan amount How much you want to borrow for the vehicle.
Loan term How long the loan will be. Typically around 5 years but can go as high as 10.
Loan type Choose between secured or unsecured loans.
Interest rate The lower the rate, the less interest you’ll pay over the life of your loan. This is important, but not the only thing to consider when comparing loans.  
Interest rate type Choose between a fixed or variable loan. Fixed rates allow for easier budgeting as your repayments won’t change. Variable rates mean if your lender passes on a rate cut, you’ll pay less. However, if there’s a rate hike, you’ll have to pay more. 
Fees Can include upfront, annual, ongoing or early exit fees.
Features Some loans come with helpful features. These can include the ability to make extra repayments and a balloon payment, or a  lump sum that you pay at the end of your car loan.

What documentation do you need for a secured car loan?

Before you apply for a secured car loan, make sure you’ve organised your paperwork.

This may include, but is not limited to:

  • Personal identification such as a driver's licence or passport
  • Proof of income
  • Copies of bank statements
  • Copies of bills
  • Information on any debts you may have (such as credit cards) 
  • Information about the car you want to buy

Secured versus unsecured loans

There are a few differences between secured and unsecured car loans. Most significantly, unsecured loans are not guaranteed against the value of your vehicle or another asset. This means that if you default, the lender can’t possess your car to minimise their losses, so they are riskier for lenders.  Because of this, unsecured loans tend to charge higher interest rates than secured loans. 

Unsecured loans offer greater flexibility in terms of how you can spend the money. They can be used to pay for your car registration, insurance and other costs, for example. Secured loans are limited to the value of the vehicle itself. 

What about encumbrance/PPSR check fees?

It pays to confirm a car’s financial history before agreeing to a purchase. This is just in case the vehicle still has money owing on it. You can confirm a car’s history with a report from the Australian Government’s Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), formerly known as REVS. Some lenders can organise this check for you as part of their service, though this may cost you extra.

Frequently asked questions

What is a secured car loan?

A secured car loan is a loan that is connected to a form of security, or collateral. Generally, the security for a car loan is the car itself. If you fail to repay the loan, the lender might seize your car, sell it and then use the proceeds to recover their debt.

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.

Where can I get a student car loan?

Student car loans are not a necessarily a product in and of themselves, but what you may be looking for is a guarantor car loan.

A guarantor car loan has a third-party act as a form of guarantee for your loan application, telling the bank or lender that if you default on your loan, someone will pay the loan repayments.

Going guarantor on a car loan is no new thing, and before internet-based credit scores, guarantor car loan applicants would apply for loans with a guarantor or property owner who could vouch for the person borrowing the loan.

To get a guarantor car loan, you’ll need someone willing to act as a guarantor for your car loan.

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 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.

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.

What is a guarantor car loan?

A guarantor car loan is a type of loan that features a guarantor on the agreement. The guarantor is a third-party individual, often a friend or relative, who guarantees the loan will be repaid if the borrower defaults on the car loan.

Guarantor car loans are often geared at people who might otherwise struggle being accepted for a secured car loan when purchasing a vehicle. Some of the reasons might include a lack of credit history such as with a student or young person, if there’s bad credit, or age as a factor such as with pensioners.

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.

How to find a great car loan

Historically, finding a great car loan would require excess research ranging from visiting an excess of websites or making phone calls, but technology has moved on. Using RateCity, Australia’s leading financial comparison service, you can check out great deals from a range of lenders on the one site.

To start, select the amount you want to borrow and the length of the loan, narrowing your search to show just fixed or variable interest rate results.

Once you’ve indicated your search criteria, you’ll see an immediate list of lenders, ranked by interest rate or application fees. You’ll also be able to view the monthly repayment amount for each result, helping you to know what you can afford.

Up to six products can be compared side-by-side, complete with more information about each car loan, giving you more information about your options.

When comparing your car loan options, it’s ideal to keep in mind some points find a great car loan for your needs. Consider the following:

  • Choosing a low interest car loan can reduce costs
  • Selecting an option with low fees and charges is ideal, because these can really add up
  • Be aware of penalties, such as early exit penalties if you pay off the loan sooner than expected
  • Consider the features that best suit your situation

There are many ways to ensure that you get a great car loan. Ultimately, you’ll end up with the best deal by doing your research and selecting the most suitable product for you.

Can I get a discounted student car loan?

Being a student is tough enough, and while you might find the odd student discount on movies and technology, the same can’t be said about car loans, as you can’t really get a discounted student car loan.

Lenders make money on the interest and fees that they charge with loans, and the lowest interest and fees are given to the most reliable credit holders: people with excellent credit history.

As a student, you are unlikely to have enough on your credit report to warrant an excellent history. There are however, ways of getting a lower interest car loan if you can’t get an interest-free loan from the bank of mum and dad. One way of doing this may be through getting a guarantor car loan, which can get you a secured car loan by setting your parents up as guarantors.

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.

What are the pros and cons of guarantor car loans?

Like all things, there are positives and negatives to guarantor car loans, though one may outweigh the other depending on your needs.

Guarantor car loan pros may include that you’re more likely to be approved for a long if you have no credit or a history with bad credit, that you’re more likely to secure a car loan with a lower interest rate, and that because your guarantor car loan is based on a relationship, you will be more inclined to meet your repayment schedule.

However, there are negatives, as well. Guarantor car loan cons may include leaving a detrimental mark on a personal relationship with added strain if you don’t meet your repayments, and you may take out a loan that you can’t actually afford.

Weighing these pros and cons will give you a greater understanding of whether a guarantor loan is ideal for your circumstances.

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.

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.

Where can I get a guarantor car loan?

There are multiple lenders who are willing to provide loans secured by guarantors.

If someone is willing to go guarantor for you and they meet the requirements set out by lenders, you can apply for guarantor finance online, over the phone, or in person.

Some banks also provide guarantor car loans, though because they’re larger banks, they may have higher interest rates than smaller lenders.

You may want to compare guarantor car loans at RateCity, and find a guarantor car loan ideal for your purposes.

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.

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.

Can I buy a car as a student?

Buying a car is a huge financial decision, and shy of marriage and purchasing a house (or perhaps around the world travels), it may be the biggest financial decision you make. But if you’re looking at your empty pockets, don’t despair! Your dream of owning your own car could become a reality, if you look for and compare the right car loans for your circumstances.

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.

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.