Buying your first car is a brilliant feeling, and one which most people only experience long after they’ve actually learnt to drive, because their early experiences behind the wheel will be onboard a vehicle purchased by their parents.
Today, the prospect of financing a car purchase rather than paying for it outright is more appealing than ever. In fact first-time drivers have a real opportunity to take on the responsibility of ownership straight away, rather than being beholden to family members.
That said, you shouldn’t rush into snapping up a car on a finance deal without doing a bit of research first, so here’s an overview of what you need to know ahead of pulling the trigger.
Your credit score matters
The problem younger drivers face is not having much of a credit history in the first place, so it can help to sign up for a credit card and use this responsibly, making purchases and paying off the balance as soon as possible, so that there’s evidence that you’re on top of your finances.
Age is a factor
The older you are, the greater your chances of being approved for an auto loan, or any kind of finance product.
Below a certain age, usually 18 or 21, you might not be eligible for any kind of deal with a mainstream provider, so take this into account when planning your car purchase.
Should you finance your first car?
Generally speaking, financing a car is a good idea, and it can make sense for first-time drivers if they can afford the repayments, and they are up to speed with the terms of the deal.
The main reason to sign up to this type of arrangement is that it allows you to purchase a more modern car than might otherwise be within your budget. Along with that you’ll get better safety features, better in-car entertainment tech, improved fuel economy and all the other bells and whistles you’d expect.
Interest rates are influential
The affordability of car financing is largely determined by the rate of interest that’s charged on the loan you take out to cover the cost of the vehicle.
You shouldn’t just look at the monthly repayments, but also at the total interest you’ll pay over the lifetime of the deal.
Higher rates will cost you more month by month, but lower rates stretched over a longer repayment period could be more expensive over time.
That’s why it’s so important to compare packages carefully, and don’t just get hypnotized by smaller monthly repayments, because these usually mean your cumulative interest costs will be steeper and it’ll take longer to repay everything.
Having financing in place before you visit a dealership is useful
It’s perfectly possible to walk into a car dealership, choose a vehicle you want to buy, sit down with the salesperson and sign up to one of their in-house financing offers.
The problem with this is that it won’t always give you access to the most suitable, affordable loans. It’s far better to get your financing organized before you set foot in a dealership, with loan pre-approval offered by a number of providers. That way you’ll be in a position of power, rather than having no choice but to go with what the dealership puts on the table.
Picking the right car is key
There’s no point getting a great rate on a car financing package if the vehicle you choose to buy with it isn’t fit for your needs.
Researching the available models in full is advised, as you need to think about things like how many seats you need, how much storage space is available onboard, and what kind of servicing costs you’ll have to fork out to keep it running.
There’s always more to learn about car financing, but hopefully any first-time drivers out there have now got enough knowledge to navigate this marketplace more easily.