Paying off a car loan often takes a few years and a lot can change in the time between setting up your car finance and settling it. The best deal when you signed on the dotted line might stop delivering value as time passes.
Do you take time out to review your car loan regularly? It’s a simple way to make sure your finance is still performing at its best. Here’s our list of four things that might be worth a closer look when you’re taking stock of your car loan performance.
1. Do you have money to spare?
When you set up your car finance, you would have worked out the best budget for repaying your loan. But as time passed, you may have discovered that you have some money to spare. Perhaps you’ve had a pay increase, or you were more cautious that you realised when you calculated your living costs and the cost of running your car.
Now that it’s time to review your finance, you may want to increase your repayments to reduce the duration of your loan. Shortening your car finance term could save you money. Why? Because it will reduce the total cost of interest.
2. Time to tighten your budget?
Unfortunately, despite best efforts, our finances don’t always improve. Since signing up for car finance you may have found that you face additional costs or your income has reduced.
If this is the case, a review may be an opportunity to reduce your repayments – either by getting a lower interest rate or by increasing the term of your car finance. Remember, if you do decide to increase the length of your loan to reduce your regular repayment amount, this will have an impact on the total cost of interest. While staying in control of your budget and expenses is absolutely essential, it’s also important to weigh up the total cost of reducing your repayments: a little less each month could cost you quite a bit more over time.
3. Interest rate opportunities
Just as your financial position changes over time, so does the state of the market. You may find that there’s been some movement in interest rates since you first signed up for your car finance. That could mean that it’s time to talk to your provider and others about whether you could get a lower interest rate.
Also, if you had bad credit or didn’t have a credit history when you initially took out your car loan, it could now be a good time to explore your position. Providers often charge a higher interest rate if you don’t have a proven history of making repayments. Now you’re further along with your car finance, you might be able to ask whether you could get a lower interest rate.
4. Is it time to switch?
If you take stock of your car loan and conclude that it really isn’t performing, it could be time to make a move. The first thing to do, is to find out if there are penalty costs and fees involved in exiting your current loan. Then, think about a few key questions: Do you want to pay it off faster? Are you able to make a lump sum payment and reduce the balance on your car loan? Would you like flexibility when it comes to additional payments or increasing your repayment rate?