How to find the best loan to buy a car
To get the best car loan, consider:
How much you need to borrow: Find a loan for the amount you need to purchase your car. Some companies offer loans up to Ј100,000.
How long you need to pay the loan back: Look for a loan that offers a suitable term. Most car loans can be repaid over 1 to 5 years.
The representative APR: This is the interest rate you will be charged for your loan. Look for the lowest APR so it costs you less to pay it back.
Some loans are secured against the vehicle you buy, so your car could be at risk if you do not keep up your repayments. Check if the loan is secured before you apply.
Think about whether you want a secured or unsecured car loan before you apply. Here is how both types of loan work.
This comparison includes car loans, and shows what loan amount, term and representative APR each lender offers.
When you have found a loan that suits your circumstances you can apply online through the lender's website, over the phone or by post.
After you have applied you will get a decision from the lender confirming whether they can offer you a loan, and at what interest rate.
To complete an application form you need to confirm:
How much you want to borrow and for how long
Your personal details including your name, address and date of birth
Your employment details
The lender will run a credit check to see how risky it would be to lend to you. Here is more on how your credit record affects the loan you get.
There are other ways to pay for your car, including:
Personal contract purchase (PCP)
Personal contract hire (PCH)
You could also use a normal personal unsecured loan to buy your vehicle.
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Auto Loan Calculator: Estimate Your Monthly Car Payment
Estimating your auto loan payment before going to the car lot can boost your negotiating power and help you choose the best loan term and down payment for your car budget.
While you can’t calculate your monthly auto loan payment to the penny, having a good estimate will put you in the driver’s seat at the dealership. Here’s how to use this calculator and a look at the different numbers that will make up your monthly car payment.
Car price: In this field, put in the price you think you’ll pay for the car after negotiations. As a starting point for new cars, you can put in the vehicle’s sticker price (also called the MSRP). In most cases, you’ll be able to negotiate a discount from the sticker price. Manufacturer rebates also may lower the price. Remember to include the cost of options and the “destination fee” that is charged for all new cars.
If you’re buying a used car, estimating the sale price is a bit trickier. You can start with the seller’s asking price, but keep in mind that you may be able to negotiate it lower. To get an idea of a fair price, you can use online pricing guides or check local online classified ads for comparable cars.
Trade-in and down payment: Here, put in the total amount of cash you’re putting toward the new car, plus the trade-in value of your existing vehicle, if any. You can use online sites for appraisals and pricing help. When using a pricing guide, make sure you check the trade-in value and not the retail cost (the price at which the dealer sells the car). If you have no trade-in, just enter your down payment amount.
For new cars, it’s smart to have a down payment of at least 20%. This prevents you from being “upside down” — owing more than the car is worth.
Interest rate: If you know your credit score, you can estimate the interest rate you’ll be offered. You can also check the car loan interest rates offered by online lenders. Rates on new cars will be lower than for used cars. Sometimes, carmakers’ finance companies offer 0% financing.
Number of months: Enter how long you plan to take to pay off the loan. Car loans commonly range from two years up to six years, but the longer you stretch it out the more you’ll pay in interest overall. Think twice before taking a car loan longer than 60 months.
Results: There’s no need to search for a “calculate” button. Simply put in your numbers and the results will update immediately. In addition to looking at the monthly payment result, be sure to face the cold, hard reality of how much you’ll pay in interest. If that’s not sobering enough, look at the total amount you will spend on the car loan (this excludes the down payment).
You have a car payment estimate. Now what can you do with it?
Understand, this calculation doesn’t include taxes and fees. You’ll have to pay state and local sales tax, a documentation fee (which varies widely) and registration costs. The simplest way to handle this: Add 10% to the loan payment you came up with.
Even though this is only an estimated loan payment, it will give you valuable information before you sign on the dotted line:
- You can see if the car you want fits into your budget. Remember, your monthly car payment is just a portion of your total car costs each month. A useful rule of thumb is that your total car expenses shouldn’t be more than 20% of your monthly take-home pay.
- Having an estimate in hand can protect you from overpaying at the dealership. If the salesman hits you with crazy-high payments, you’ll know that something is wrong — or that you’re shopping at the wrong dealership.
Use this calculator as you begin the journey of shopping for a new car. Revisit the calculator as you get quotes from dealers or after getting a loan offer from a lender. Try entering different down payment amounts and loan lengths to see what fits best in your car budget. As your numbers become more specific, your monthly auto loan payment will become more accurate. If you run these simple calculations ahead of time, you’ll wind up with a loan you can live with.
Source for credit range information in calculator: State of the Automotive Finance Market, Experian Information Solutions, Inc.
or $100 is yours!
After receiving your loan from us, if you are not completely satisfied with your experience, please contact us. We will email you a questionnaire so we can improve our services. When we receive your completed questionnaire, we will send you $100. Our guarantee expires 30 days after you receive your loan.
We reserve the right to change or discontinue our guarantee at any time. Limited to one $100 payment per funded loan. LightStream and SunTrust teammates do not qualify for the Loan Experience Guarantee.
Learn more about how LightStream loans can be used to finance:
- Vehicle Loans
- Auto Refinance
- Classic Car Financing
- Lease Buyout
- Motorcycle Loans
- New Car Loans
- Private Party Auto Purchase
- Used Car Loan
- Home Improvement Loans
- Basement Remodel Loans
- Home Improvement Loans
- Hot Tub Financing
- Kitchen Remodel Financing
- Landscape Financing
- Solar Financing
- Swimming Pool Financing
- Recreation Loans
- Boat Loans
- Boat Refinancing
- Boat Repair Financing
- Destination Club Financing
- RV Loans
- RV Refinancing
- Timeshare Loans
- Family Life
- Adoption Loans
- Dental Loans
- IVF/Fertility Treatment Financing
- Medical Financing
- PreK-12 Financing
- Wedding Loans
- and Anything Else!
- Aircraft Financing
- Credit Card/Debt Consolidation
- Horse Loans
- Horse Trailer Loans
- Jewelry Financing
- Land Purchase Loans
- Tiny Home Financing
- . or other financing needs!
* The APR listed is for an unsecured dealer used auto loan between $10,000 and $24,999 with a term between 24 and 36 months, for applicants with excellent credit. Your APR may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount, which is only available when you select AutoPay prior to loan funding. Rates under the invoicing option are 0.50% higher. If your application is approved, your credit profile will determine whether your loan will be unsecured or secured. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice.
Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 2.19% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $287.26.
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Lending services provided by SunTrust Bank, member FDIC.
At LightStream, we care about the environment and, more importantly, we try to do something about it. For one, we have created a paperless consumer loan experience at LightStream. By eliminating paper almost entirely from the LightStream loan process, we not only save our natural resources but we save on expenses as well, better enabling us to offer you highly competitive interest rates.
In addition, for every loan that we fund for our customers, we will have a tree planted in one of our country's fragile habitat communities currently under restoration.
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