According to credit reporting company Experian, a whopping 85% of new passenger vehicles are financed . Leases constitute 30% of car financing deals.
As for used vehicles, about 55% are financed.
It’s no surprise that auto financing is so popular – not many people can afford to pay the entire cost of a car upfront. If you are looking for a car loan as a senior, our guide will help you prepare documentation and set the right expectations.
Car Loan VS Lease VS Upfront Payment
When it comes to buying a car, you have three options:
- Cash payment upfront.
We can’t say that one of these options is clearly better than the other – it all depends on your needs and financial situation. Terms also vary between lenders, so you may want to shop around.
Nonetheless, let’s try to understand which financing method would be the best for you .
Seniors often have a long history of loan payments and a good credit score, which gives them access to lower rates.
Aside from that, if you live on a fixed income, you can easily calculate how much money you have available and choose a lender and a car from there.
With that said, if you don’t have a good credit score, you may not be able to get a good interest rate. Besides, the needs of seniors can change quickly – new cars depreciate rapidly, and if you decide to get another car before the loan is repaid, you may end up owing more than the worth of your vehicle.
With leases, you aren’t actually paying for the vehicle’s ownership – instead, you’re basically renting a brand-new car for a certain period. Because of this, leases are almost always less costly than loans.
Leases are shorter than loans too, often ending before the car’s warranty expires. And when you are done, you may either pay a fee to obtain ownership of the car or sign another lease for a new one.
Such a model of financing allows you to adapt your car to changing needs, and you get the chance to enjoy the latest technology and safety features.
Leases are not perfect, however. Most importantly, over the long term, leases can be more expensive than loans or upfront payment. Some lenders also put an annual mileage limit on leased cars – typically, around 10,000 miles per year.
Finally, we have upfront payments. If you do have the budget, upfront cash allows you to avoid monthly payments and interest rates. Besides, budgeting for one big purchase is easier than for monthly payments through years.
But after your warranty expires, you’ll need to take care of maintenance and repairs out of your pocket. And let’s also not forget that a big cash payment could deplete your budget.
Do Car Loans For Seniors Offer Special Terms?
There’s no such thing as car loans for senior citizens with special terms, unfortunately. No matter your age, your car loan rate will depend on the following factors :
- Credit score. The higher your credit score, the lower your rates will likely be.
- Income. High-income pensioners will have an easier time getting a car loan, especially when looking for high-value vehicles.
- Term length. Longer terms translate into lower monthly payments but higher interest costs in the long run.
- Down payment/trade-in. If you can make a down payment or trade your old car in, you will lower your outstanding debt and likely get a lower rate.
- The dealer’s margin. If you are financing through a dealer, know that they will add an extra percentage on top of the lender’s rate.
- Pre-approval. Loan pre-approval allows you to roughly know the terms you qualify for. If you pre-approve at several different lenders, you will get leverage for negotiation.
How To Get A Car Loan As A Senior
To get a car loan – hopefully, with a good rate – you’ll need documentation, most importantly:
- Documentation of your sources of income. Make sure to gather documentation on all of your income sources, whether it be your pension, Social Security, or retirement account.
- Documentation of your debts to show that you have a history of making payments on time and that your debt-to-income ratio is low.
- Your credit score and credit reports. In the US, you may request a free credit report from each of the 3 nationwide credit reporting companies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – once a year .
If your income is limited or you have a poor credit score, consider a co-signer. This could allow you to get much better rates, though do keep in mind that your co-signer will be legally responsible for loan payments.
“Auto Loan Debt Sets Record Highs”, Experian, https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/research/auto-loan-debt-study/.
“Auto Loans and Transportation Options for Seniors and Retirees”, MoneyGeek, https://www.moneygeek.com/auto-loans/transportation-mobility-options-for-seniors/.
“6 Factors That Affect Car Loan Rates”, I Drive Safely, https://www.idrivesafely.com/defensive-driving/trending/6-factors-affect-car-loan-rates.
“Free Credit Reports”, U.S. Federal Trade Commission, https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports.