Tag: Car

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5 Steps to Take When Your Car is Repossessed

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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For the most part, you will know ahead of time when a car repossession is on the horizon. But, even when you have an inkling your car is about to get taken away, walking outside to find it missing is upsetting.

A car repo can jeopardize your mobility long-term. And if you don’t have access to public transportation or a friend to give you a lift, having no car to get to and from work could mean you’ll lose your job, which triggers other financial issues. If your car has been repossessed (or it’s a possibility it will happen soon) here’s what you need to know and the options for getting it back.

Step 1: Take a Record of Any Property Damage

There are laws in place to protect you when a repo company comes for the car. They can’t disturb the peace, use excessive force, damage your property or cause you harm in the process.

If you believe the repossession happened aggressively, you may have a case for reimbursement of damage or the return of your car. The repo agency may also get hit with a penalty for their actions. Take photos of the damage as a backup and get a second opinion from an attorney.

You should also have a record of what the car looks like and any damages before it’s repossessed. Otherwise, could turn into a bit of a “he said, she said” debate.

Step 2: Find Out Why Your Car Was Taken

Technically, a car isn’t “yours” until you pay off the car note. If you default, in most states the company financing your car has the right to take it back without warning you. The same applies if you’re leasing a car. Miss a few payments and the lessor can take back the property.

When a repo occurs, contact the creditor as soon as possible. Unlike when a contractor tows your car for minor offenses like unpaid parking tickets, after a repo, your car doesn’t wait patiently on a lot until you bring your bills current. The car can be sold to recover the financial loss.

Fortunately, many states require that you’re notified of the pending auction or sale of your vehicle beforehand, so you have a reasonable time to act. Ahead of the sale, you may be able to reinstate the auto loan, pay off the loan entirely or buy the car back. We’ll talk about each option for reclaiming your car in the next section.

Besides defaulting on a loan, in some states, your car may be repossessed when your insurance lapses. If you’ve stopped paying your car insurance, find out from your creditor or DMV if that’s the reason your car is missing and ask what the penalties are for not keeping insurance.

Step 3: Explore Options to Reclaim the Car

The rules for getting your car back when your payments are in default vary by state and contract, but according to the Federal Trade Commission, there are generally three options to discuss:

Reinstate Your Auto Loan: This will probably be the most affordable and less cumbersome option if it’s available to you. Reinstating the loan is when you pay the amount you’re behind plus all of the fees associated with the repossession including towing and storage to get it back.

Redeem Your Car: Redeeming the car means paying off the entire balance of the loan to get your car back. Going this route may not be feasible or smart if your car is worth less than you owe. Besides the entire loan amount, you’re also on the hook for the repossession fees.

Buy Your Car Back: Again, this option may not be possible if you’re having a hard time just making car payments. When you get the date and time of the auction your car will be in, you can attend and try to buy it back.

Step 4: Decide if You Can Afford to Get the Car Back

After going through each of your options, you may find you’re not financially stable enough to retrieve your car. Even in the best case scenario of reinstating your loan, you’ll need to have the means to make regular payments and maintain the car. If you can’t handle it, you may have to let the car go. There are some financial implications when giving up on the car as well.

When a creditor sells your car, it has to make a reasonable effort to get a fair market price for it. If the fair market price is less than how much you owe, you can be sued for deficiency; the difference between how much you owe and how much the car sells for.

Fortunately, if the car sells for more than what you owe, you also get to pocket the difference. You should get a notification of whatever you owe or if money is owed to you. Follow up on the resale yourself if you don’t. Unpaid deficiency can end up in collections.

Lastly, if you plan to wash your hands of the car loan, you could be in a deep financial hole all the way around and in the process of filing bankruptcy. If so, you may be able to include the car in the agreement and get it back. In this case, contact the attorney handling your bankruptcy right away.

Step 5: Get Your Belongings

Regardless of how you intend to resolve the repossession, you’re entitled to all of your belongings in the car. Whoever has your car should make a reasonable effort to protect your belongings from damage and theft. It’s a good practice to not leave any valuables in the car if you’re on the verge of repossession to avoid theft or damage.

Often, you’ll be contacted with the location where you can pick your stuff up. If you find anything missing or damaged, take notes. You may be able to reduce your deficiency bill with proof that you experienced property loss.

Final Word: Act early

If you know making future car payments is going to be a struggle, you’ll benefit the most from acting early to avoid the costs of repossession. Here are a few steps you may be able to take:

  • Negotiate: If you’re going through a temporary hardship, you may be able to work out a short-term deal of reduced or excused late auto payments. You won’t know unless you ask. Be sure to get any form of agreement in writing.
  • Sell your car: Selling a car with a lien can be difficult, but not impossible. You have the best shot at selling if the car is worth more than you owe. Once sold use public transportation or a carpool for the time being.
  • Refinance the loan: You may be able to refinance to a lesser monthly payment before things go south. Keep in mind, refinancing may come with processing fees and other costs, so you need to factor them into the equation.
  • Surrender the car yourself: If you’re already in default and know the repossession is coming, you can give up the car on your own terms. No dramatic car tow scene necessary and you can clear the car of your belongings. Then if you decide to redeem your car or reinstate the loan, you won’t have to pay some of the repossession fees.

Having your car repossessed is scary, but even when you hit rock bottom, there are solutions. If you put aside the emotions and think logically, you can recover. Your best move is to prevent it and keep the lines of communication open with the company servicing your auto loan.
If it’s too late for that, your main choices (depending on your contract and state) are to bring the loan back current and fork up repossession costs, pay-off the loan, buy the car back or give up the car entirely.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor at taylor@magnifymoney.com

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Auto Loan

11 Things to Know Before You Lease a Car

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Nearly one quarter of new cars in America are sold under lease agreement, and low monthly payments entice buyers who want to drive new cars, but don’t want to deal with a large cash outlay.

Lessees don’t build equity in their vehicle, but for the right person, a lease can be a good option. These are things you need to know before you consider a lease.

1. The best way to think about a lease

It’s best to think of a lease as a pay for use contract. A lease allows you to pay for the depreciation you put onto a vehicle at a reasonable interest rate. You get to drive and depreciate a vehicle for a certain period of time then you can walk away.

Due to higher markups, higher interest rates and additional fees, leasing tends to be an unfavorable financing mechanism, but if you don’t care about owning the car, a lease may be a good option for you.

As a lessee, you will drive the car during its most rapid depreciation phase, so in the long run, continuously leasing a vehicle is the most expensive way to drive, but if you always want to drive a new car, leasing can be a low hassle way to make that happen.

2. Leasing affects your credit score

Taking on a lease affects your credit the same way that taking on a car loan affects your credit. Applying for a lease triggers a credit inquiry on your report, which has a small adverse effect on your credit score. Taking on a lease increases credit utilization which also adversely affects your credit score. Over time your credit utilization will fall, and timely payment history will cause your score to increase again.

Leases are considered installment loans, and having a high utilization rate on installment loans does not have as much of an adverse effect on your credit score as having high utilization on credit cards or other forms of revolving credit. As with any form of credit, late or skipped lease payments drag down your score

Further Reading: Credit Score Guide

3. Leasing terminology

Manufacturers and salespeople shroud leasing in complex jargon. To understand the terms of your lease, these are the definitions you need to know.

  • Capitalized Cost: The price of the vehicle. This could be MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price), or it could be reduced based on your negotiations.
  • Capital Cost Reduction: This is a down payment. The most favorable leases (for those who don’t intend to purchase at the end of the lease) should not include a capital cost reduction unless it’s an incentive.
  • Residual Value: This is the estimated value of the car at the end of the lease. The higher this price is relative to the capitalized cost, the more favorable it is to lease a car. Cars.com keeps a database of residual values on file that you can use to understand if you’re getting a fair residual value.
  • Factor, Money Factor or Rate: This is the interest rate of your loan, but it’s not expressed as an annual percentage rate. The number expressed needs to be multiplied by 2.4 to get to an APR. For example a 1.35 money factor is a 3.24% interest rate. LeaseHackr.com keeps an up to date list of “official” factors (column entitled MF) that you can use in negotiations. Interest rates on leases range from 2-3 times as high as interest rates on traditional car loans, but it is possible to negotiate this rate.

4. You can negotiate a lease

Unlike car loans, leases come from car manufacturers rather than banks. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to negotiate a lease. Anyone who intends to lease should try to drive down the capitalized cost, and people with good credit should also look to reduce or even eliminate the money factor. Small fees like documents fees, tire fees and more can be waived completely if you take the time to negotiate.

Even if a dealership advertises a “Manufacturer’s Leasing Special”, you should negotiate the terms of the lease. Salespeople depend on getting you to drive away in a new car, so consumers hold upper hand in negotiations.

5. No money down

One advantage of leasing a vehicle is that it shifts depreciation risk from the customer to the manufacturer. A down payment (or a capital cost reduction) shifts the risk back onto the customer. In a lease, a down payment is a form of pre-payment. If you terminate the lease before the end of the lease period (if your car is totaled or stolen), you lose the benefit that the down payment purchased. Putting no money down is an important strategy for keeping the lease in the lessee’s favor.

6. Extra insurance costs

Leasing yields lower monthly payments compared to buying using traditional financing, but some of the monthly cash flow advantage is lost by increased insurance costs. To protect themselves financially, lessees should purchase “Gap Insurance” in addition to traditional car insurance.

Gap insurance covers the difference between the actual cash value and the amount owed on a lease. As soon as a lessee drives the car off the lot, the car is worth less than the lessee owes on their lease. If a car is totaled or stolen during a lease period, you need to be able to buyout the lease early, and gap insurance allows you to do that. Gap insurance should be purchased through a traditional insurer, and adds anywhere from 3-10% to the traditional cost of insurance.

7. Fees, fees, fees

Every lessee runs into at least three substantial fees during the course of their lease. The first fee is an acquisition fee (alternatively called a financing fee). This fee is not a down payment, but it runs anywhere from $500 for basic compact cars to nearly $1,000 for luxury vehicles.

Dealerships also charge a $300-$900 Delivery Charge which covers the cost of the vehicle being delivered to the dealership lot. Lessees need to be prepared to pay this fee upfront, but some companies try to sneak a second delivery fee into the contracts. The second delivery fee can be negotiated to zero.

The last fee every lessee will encounter is either a disposition fee or a purchase option fee. These fees run between $300-$400 depending on which option you choose. When a lease ends, you will pay a fee to the dealership unless you negotiate it away at the outset.

In addition to these larger fees, many lessees will run into mileage overage fees which range from $.15 per mile for basic vehicles to $.30 for luxury vehicles. Most people drive more than their lease allows, and these extra miles cause additional depreciation on the vehicle. Since a lease is a “pay for what you use agreement”, it’s fair to pay for those extra miles. Of course you can avoid overage fees by limiting the amount you drive or by purchasing the car at the end of the lease.

You should negotiate smaller fees like advertising fees, tire fees, document fees, vehicle preparation fees down to zero.

8. Repairs required

Lessees bear the financial burden of repairs and maintenance on their leased vehicles. Some dealerships offer free tire rotation and oil changes, but the lessee has to pay for other maintenance. New cars shouldn’t require much maintenance, but accidents, chipped paint and broken windshields need to be paid for, and longer lessees may need to buy new tires while they own the vehicles

9. Exit options

Turning in a leased vehicle early is akin to defaulting on a car loan. Your credit will take a hit, and you will still owe money. However, it is possible to “sublet” your car through websites like SwapALease and LeaseTrader.

If your lease is about to end, you’ll have to decide whether or not to purchase the car or return it. If you want to buy the vehicle, you may be able to negotiate the buyout price. If you have the cash on hand to pay for the vehicle, and the purchase price is lower than an equivalent used car, you can purchase the vehicle outright and sell it for instant equity. If you have to obtain financing, the additional fees may erase any favorable pricing you obtained.

If the vehicle is worth less than the purchase price at the end of your lease, you should probably walk away from the vehicle or attempt some strong negotiations. Of course, the beauty of a lease is that the termination of the lease means that you can hand the keys back to the dealer and move on. 

10. Consider leasing if…

Anyone with midterm vehicle needs (only needing a vehicle for a few years) may find that a lease is a good value and a good fit for their lifestyle. Likewise, anyone who loves driving new cars and doesn’t mind having a monthly payment may enjoy leasing long term.

Continuously leasing vehicles is more expensive than “driving a vehicle into the ground,” but many people don’t mind that they get what they pay for.  People who enjoy driving newer, fancier cars may find that leasing can be a reasonable lifestyle, especially if they can easily afford the payment.

11. Avoid leasing if… 

Avoid leasing if you’re trying to drive as inexpensively as possible. The low monthly payments are enticing, but leasing is the most expensive way to drive in the long run. Leasing has high interest rates and high fees. If you can’t afford the monthly payments associated with owning a new car, consider buying used or choosing a basic model. Both of these methods end up being cheaper than leasing.

If you drive a lot, or if you frequently drive in poor conditions, you’re a bad candidate for leasing. The additional depreciation may mean that you’re left paying extra fees at the end of your lease. Additionally, anyone seeking to own a vehicle should pursue paying cash or taking out a traditional loan rather than leasing.

If you decide to purchase your vehicle instead of leasing it, it is best practice to get pre-approved for your auto loan before heading over to the dealership. [Disclosure: LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney.]We recommend starting with LendingTree. There are hundreds of lenders on this platform. After filling out your application, you will be able to see real interest rates and approval information at once.

Keep in mind, some lenders will do a hard pull on your credit and this is normal within the auto lending space. Multiple hard pulls only count as one pull, so it is smart to have all your hard pulls done at once, which LendingTree’s tool can do for you.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah at hannah@magnifymoney.com

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Auto Loan, News

Should You Ever Lease a Car? Here’s What You Need to Know

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Lease a Car

If you’re in the market for a new car, you may be wondering whether it would be better for you to lease or outright buy new your set of wheels. While there are many factors to consider, we’ll put it out there upfront that most experts say that it makes more long-term financial sense to actually buy and keep a new car than it is to lease one.

Having said that, here are some of the factors that should go into your decision, either way.

1.What’s your monthly budget?

While it’s true that you may be able to lease a car for less money than it would cost for you to outright buy one, what you’re essentially doing in the case of leasing a car is renting it and paying interest on something you’ll eventually need to return. That means that once your lease is up, you’ll be left with the same decision you’re faced with right now — what’s the best option for a new car?

Also keep in mind that breaking a lease — for whatever reason — often comes with early termination fees and strict payback policies (meaning you could still be on the hook for the money that’s left on your lease). You might be able to work with your dealer on some of these things, but in most cases, if you want to break a lease early, you’ll be responsible for the remaining amount left on the lease, as well as the termination fee (which could be a couple hundred dollars).

2. Check for additional upfront fees

While your overall monthly fee to drive a car on a lease will may be cheaper than auto loan payments, there are additional fees to be on the lookout for before signing a contract. For example, often customers are asked to shell out hundreds or even thousands up front in order to get the best deals on leases. This extra money is usually put towards paying down a portion of the lease, but if something were to happen to the car early on (like an accident), insurance companies often agree to pay back the value of the car, while the amount that you paid upfront would most likely be forfeited.

3. Consider any mileage limitations

The problem with leasing instead of buying is that you don’t outright own your car, so there will still be rules — set by your leasing agent — to follow. Take mileage limits, for example. Most leases have limits on the number of miles you can drive while leasing a car (usually between 10,000 and 15,000 miles per year), and customers are penalized when they drive over that set amount. At a penalty that could be around 20-to-25-cents-per-mile, those fees can really start to add up, depending on how much you drive. Always do a little math before signing on for a lease to determine if you think your estimated mileage will be within what’s offered with your lease.

4. Get on the same page about “normal” wear and tear

Since you’ll be returning this car after your lease it up, most leasing companies want to ensure that they get cars back that are within a certain realm of wear and tear. If you return a car that the company deems above average use, you’ll likely be charged extra for it. To avoid that problem, make sure you chat with the leasing agent in depth about what’s expected in terms of the condition of the car when you return it, and take photos for back up if needed.

Remember that in some cases these stipulations will be negotiable, but again, you’ll likely have to pay more for any modifications or upgrades to the typical lease that you want to make.

While leasing a car may seem like a viable option right now — and it could be — it’s worth putting in a lot of thought about the type of driver you are, how much driving you do and how much flexibility you want with your car before going into a lease. If you can’t afford a new car and a lease doesn’t feel right to you either, you can always consider buying a used model. Check out this piece for six of the best auto loans for buying a used car.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock |

Cheryl Lock is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Cheryl at cheryl@magnifymoney.com

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Auto Loan, News

4 Ways to Make Owning a Car More Affordable in 2016

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Car_lg

Ah, to own a car. Let’s be honest — public transportation has its draws (the fact that we don’t have to worry about doing the actual driving, the environment, and all of that), but when it comes to convenience, nothing can beat your own set of wheels.

But can you afford your own set of wheels? This year we at MagnifyMoney want to make things as easy for you as possible, so we’ll walk you through the steps you should take prior to walking on that car lot to ensure that you’ll be driving away with the car that’s right (and affordable) for you.

1. Start with your budget

As with most financial decisions in life, the choice to buy a car should start with your current budget. Do you have leftover cash each month — or room to cut back on current expenses — so that you can make car payments each month? Starting with your monthly income will help you determine whether or not you can afford taking out a loan for a shiny new car (or even for a used one), or if buying something pre-owned and less expensive is the way to go. And remember — buying the car is just your first step. After you own it you’ll be in charge of paying for repairs, gas, insurance and more, all things you’ll need to factor into your current budget, as well.

If you need a little more help deciding whether an auto loan is right for you, check out this piece about the two times it makes financial sense to secure an auto loan.

2. Figure out your financing

If you’ll be going with a used car this year and paying for it in cash, in full, then you may need to figure out a timeline for when you’d like to purchase the car and try to break up your monthly savings to meet that monetary goal in time. If you’ll be purchasing a new car with a loan, though, you’ll want to do some shopping around. As with most loans, the better your credit score, the better your financing options will be. Online auto loans are a quick and popular way to get financing for your new car, but you’ll want to shop around. For example, check out this piece about the five best auto loans for a new car, or this one for the best loans for a used car. (P.S. You’ll also want to avoid the sub-prime auto trap at all costs … we can help you.)

Once you’ve figured out financing and know how much car you actually can afford, it’s time to head into step 3, the fun step …

3. Research your car

Are you interested in only American cars? Do you need all-wheel drive? What about those fancy add-ons like a sunroof, heated seats or satellite capabilities — how important are they to you? And safety reports — that’s got to factor in too, right? Start with the Kelley Blue Book to price out some of the vehicles you’re interested in, and then ask around for what people who have cars you’re interested in paid. A little research ahead of time will really help you when it comes time to head into step 4.

4. Negotiate like a pro

Once you’ve narrowed your list to a few car options and have a general idea of what you can (and should) pay, it’s time to shop. It should come as no surprise to you that negotiation is the name of the game when it comes to purchasing a car. Start with the fact that you’ve done your research and know how much the car is actually worth, be polite and don’t be afraid to walk away at first and come back if need be. Following up when the salesman is unlikely to make another sale for the day (and therefore would really appreciate yours!) is also a good idea, like on a weekend right before closing. If you can, you should also try purchasing your car at the end of the month or even the end of the year, when dealers are trying to move as much inventory as possible to make room for their new stock and are more likely to cut you a deal to do so. 

A lot goes into the decision of buying a new car, and a little research can really help a lot. If you’re still unsure of what your next move should be, check out this piece for eight more tips on how to score a car that you can afford and that you will love.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock |

Cheryl Lock is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Cheryl at cheryl@magnifymoney.com

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