Minimum and maximum loan periods vary between 1 months and 10 years. Comparison interest rates vary between 6.55% and 60% p.a. Total interest repayments vary between R685.05 and R844.12 over the life of the loan. *Comparison rate is based on an unsecured loan of R20,000 for a term of 3 years. WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate. These rates can change without further notice. All rates quoted are per annum. For more information regarding fees click on "View fees & additional info +" for each product or contact the provider.
The essential guide to vehicle finance in South Africa
Would you like to own a car or any means of transport of your choice? The answer to this question for most of us is likely “Yes.” After all, an automobile is a status symbol that brings respect, satisfaction, easier transportation, independence, and time savings all in one purchase.
Yet, the majority of us can’t afford to buy a set of wheels without a little help. Car finance, therefore, becomes a critical part of the vehicle-buying process. However, a common mistake is to focus on shopping for the ride you want without considering things like payment or the right way to apply for car loan.
To help you avoid this, CompareLoans has done your homework for you. Our comparison table will help you choose the best vehicle finance in South Africa. At the same time, reading the detailed guide below will show you how to get the best car finance deals.
What is vehicle finance?
Vehicle finance covers but is not limited to secured car loans, motorbike loans, caravan loans, and boat loans. When you take out any of these motor vehicle loans, you will get money from a lender that allows you to buy the vehicle you want. This borrowed money can help you pay the full cost of the vehicle.
If you have some extra rand saved up, you can use the credit amount to add to those savings, so you have enough money to make the purchase. Afterwards, you repay your debt in monthly instalments over a set period of time.
Advantages of vehicle finance
When you apply for finance, you can benefit from the following:
- The extra money helps you to afford an automobile you could not afford before.
- You can pay for the car while driving it.
- You can take as much time as you need (as long as 10 years) to pay off the car.
- If you choose secured finance, you’re likely to get a lower interest rate compared to other finance options such as unsecured personal loans.
Disadvantages of vehicle finance
- You have to pay back the debt as agreed otherwise you risk losing the car, facing legal action, and getting blacklisted or having a poor credit score.
- You may not be able to buy the car you want since lenders will sometimes only approve your car finance application if it matches a specific type, year, model, and newness.
- The amount you borrow is limited by many factors such as your monthly income, credit score, and any existing debt you might have.
What is vehicle finance used for?
Getting a vehicle loan gives you all or some of the money you need to buy a:
How vehicle finance works
There are many steps involved before, during, and after you apply for finance. These steps can be summarised as follows:
- Shop around for the ride you want and can afford – See our tips and advice on finding the best set of wheels for you in the sections below.
- Compare finance options – CompareLoans.co.za features a popular list of vehicle lenders and what they offer. Whether you’re looking for cheap, easy, or used car finance, there are good options available.
- Apply for motor vehicle finance from financial institutions – After you have compared and identified the lender that suits your needs, click “Go to Site” to visit their website and to apply online.
- Enter into a purchase agreement – Once you have applied and been approved for finance, sign the purchase agreement documents from your seller. This is a legal contract between a buyer and the seller which states the terms of the car sale.
- Forward the purchase agreement to your lender – Once the lender has a copy of the purchase agreement, they pay the required amount to the seller.
- You drive your automobile while repaying the credit – When your car has been paid off, you can collect and use it while making repayments to the lender.
Familiarise yourself with these terms
Before you apply for a car loan, it helps to understand the language commonly used:
- Motor vehicle finance – This is a special type of credit that you get from some lenders offering registered financial services. You can use the cash to cover the full or part of the purchase price for either a new or used car.
- Interest rate or advertised rate – Interest is what lenders charge you for borrowing money so that they can make a profit. The rate is expressed as a percentage. APR (Annual Percentage Rate) refers to the total interest rate when accounting for other fees (monthly service fees, initiation fee, etc.).
- Loan term – This is the time you take to pay back the borrowed money. Depending on your situation, you can take anywhere from 1 month to 84 months (7 years) to repay the loan amount.
- Deposit – This is a lump sum of money that you pay to partly cover the cost of the auto. For example, if the car you want to buy costs R50,000 you can deposit R10,000. This then means you only need to apply for car finance for the remaining R40,000.
- Balloon payment – While a deposit is made before the loan term begins, a balloon payment is made when the term ends. In this case, you make monthly payments as usual, and afterwards, you pay a lump sum to finish paying off the credit.
- Trade-in – If you wish to buy a new car, you can use the equity in your existing one, as the deposit for the new car loan. Essentially you’re selling your old car to the dealer, to get a better purchase price on the new one.
Types of vehicle financing in South Africa
- Secured vehicle finance – This credit uses the car you’re purchasing as security. Using it as collateral means, you get lower interest rates because of the lower risk to the lender created by the higher resale value of the car. If you fail to pay back the car loan, the lender will simply repossess the vehicle.
- Unsecured vehicle finance – With this type of credit, you can buy a car without security or collateral. This option is more flexible since you will not be required to buy a car that meets certain conditions. However, since the lender cannot repossess the car if you default, the borrowed amount comes with higher interest rates and stricter requirements.
- Car lease – The lender will lease a car to you, and you get to use it over a certain period of time while paying “rent”. At the end of the agreement, you can either buy the car at a lower price or return the car.
- Operating lease – Similar to a car lease, however, a company or commercial organization takes out the lease and makes the repayments.
- Car hire purchase – Here you reduce the balance owed on your car by making fixed monthly repayments over an agreed period. Usually, a deposit is required, and you will own the car at the end of the lease agreement. In commercial hire purchase, the credit is used to finance a business vehicle.
The above types of vehicle finance can also be combined with the following types:
- New vehicle – This loan helps you to cover the cost of a brand-new car.
- Used vehicle – Finance for second-hand or pre-owned cars.
- Private vehicle finance – Private car finance allows you to buy a car from a private seller instead of a dealership.
- Dealer finance – You can get finance through a car dealership that is linked to certain lenders and finance companies.
- Pre-approved vehicle finance – Here, you get the credit approved before you decide which car to buy. Afterwards, you shop for the car, and the car you get depends on the amount the lender has approved.
- Pensioner car loan – This allows pensioners to also apply for vehicle finance.
- Business vehicle finance – Applies to the purchase of business means of transport. Commercial vehicle finance is also available when you need to purchase a fleet for your business.
- Fixed-rate – You can enjoy a constant and fixed interest rate while you pay off your debt.
- Variable-rate – Can also be referred to as prime interest rate. The interest rate on this type of this loan can change at any time during the life of the credit.
How much can you borrow to buy a car?
Getting approved for a certain loan amount depends on your:
- Monthly income or salary – The more you earn, the more you can borrow.
- Employment details – These can affect the stability of your income.
- Assets – If you use your vehicle as security, you can borrow a larger amount depending on the value of the car or asset.
- Credit history – This indicates your ability to pay off your debt based on your past borrowing and repayment behaviour. Lenders are likely to let you borrow more if you have a high credit score.
In short, how much you can borrow depends mainly on whether you will be able to pay the monthly instalments or not. To see if you can afford the car payments, also calculate the total cost of other expenses such as car insurance, petrol, and car service and maintenance – in addition to your regular monthly expenses.
Vehicle finance interest rates
Factors that affect your interest rate (the fee for borrowing expressed as a percentage) and interest repayments (the actual amount you have to repay, in addition to the principle) include:
- Credit score – It is easier to get a low-interest rate when you have a high credit score.
- Deposit – Making a deposit before buying the car reduces the amount you have to borrow and thus, the size of your interest repayments.
- Balloon payment – On the same note, paying a lump sum at the end of the term reduces the balance and, therefore, the total interest repayments.
- Loan term – Taking longer to pay off your debt means you pay more in interest.
- Type of car – For example, unsecured used car loans may be charged a higher interest rate than if you were buying a new car.
Tips for getting a lower vehicle loan interest rate
Doing the following can help you access low-interest vehicle finance:
- Compare car loan rates for lenders featured on this page to get an idea of what the better interest rates are.
- Taking out a secured car finance reduces the risk to the lender. Hence, you will typically be charged a lower interest rate.
- Negotiate with the seller for a lower purchase price on your car. You may get a lower interest rate when you apply for a smaller amount.
- You can opt for dealer finance which gives you more room to negotiate a lower interest rate.
Tips for reducing your monthly car payments
- Check to see if the extra fees on your loan are affordable. Low-interest rates don’t always mean cheap car finance. Too many fees can increase the size of your overall monthly repayments.
- Borrow only the amount you need. Borrowing a smaller amount means you pay less in interest, which makes your monthly repayment more affordable.
- Consider a longer term to make your monthly repayments more affordable. However, keep in mind that you may have to pay more in interest.
Tips to help you when shopping for a car
Choosing the right car is just as important as learning how to get finance that suits your needs. Buying a car is a serious and expensive decision. Therefore, it is important to remember these tips when shopping around for the car you want:
- Do your research first – These days a simple search on the internet will give you important details about the car you want. You can find out about the engine size, fuel consumption, colour options and other features that matter.
- Compare prices – Whether you’re opting for used or new vehicle, the car you buy should have a purchase price you can afford.
- Negotiate where possible – You’ll be surprised that some sellers will actually lower the car’s purchase price and maybe throw in extra features, if you negotiate.
- Take a test drive – To make sure the vehicle feels right when you’re behind the wheel take it for a spin before finalising the deal. Consider hiring a mechanic to do a pre-sale inspection to identify the common problems you may not be of
How to compare vehicle finance lenders
At the product level
Which lender offers the best vehicle finance? When answering this question, it is important to remember that the credit you choose must be personalised to match your circumstances.
Looking at the following things will help you make an informed decision:
Each loan type has different features. Do you want it to be secured or unsecured? Are you looking for a variable or fixed interest rate? The type you choose should offer as much flexibility as possible or your needs.
This affects the total cost of the credit and the monthly instalment amount. You should compare car loan rates from different lenders before applying to make sure you’re getting the best or lowest car loan interest rate available to you.
The average car loan term is between 6 and 72 months. Ensure you have as much time as you need without severely impacting your financial well-being. Keep in mind that longer terms mean you to pay more in interest and fees over the life of your credit.
Some lenders will require you to make a deposit at the beginning of the term or a balloon payment at the end of the loan term. Other factors to consider include how often you will make the repayments (weekly, monthly, etc).
At the lender level
Even when you get a low-interest rate on your car loan, too many fees can end up costing you. The main fees associated are as follows:
- Initiation fee – Also referred to as the application or establishment fee.
- Service fees – These are often paid every month.
- Early termination fees – These typically apply to debts that have an outstanding balance greater than R250,000. Early termination fees may not apply for amounts lower than R250,000.
- Balloon payment – This is a residual payment that is usually expressed as a percentage of the credit amount. For example, a R300,000 car loan with a 25% balloon payment will reduce your monthly repayment. However, you will need to pay a lump sum of R75,000 (25%) at the end of the term.
Overall, check to see if the fees are affordable and if there are no other hidden costs.
- Other and terms and conditions
Your contract may also contain other terms and conditions. For example, you may be required to also pay for car insurance.
- The reputation of the lender
It is best to apply for vehicle finance from registered credit providers that are regulated by the National Credit Act. Also, excellent customer service translates to easier car finance. The lenders displayed on CompareLoans are all registered credit providers.
Extra tip: Use our vehicle finance calculator
The car payments for your loan will potentially affect your budget for a long time. Our calculator will help you figure out what fits into your budget and what doesn’t. Simply input the required details, and it will show you the estimated monthly repayments based on the current vehicle finance interest rate for each lender.
Car loan requirements: What you need to apply
Typical requirements for when making an application for vehicle finance include:
- you should be 18 years and above;
- you should be employed or self-employed;
- your income should be regular and above a certain amount (this varies from lender to lender); and
- ideally, you should have a good credit score.
Car loan application documents may include:
- a valid South African ID;
- a driver’s licence;
- bank statements or payslips for the last three months;
- proof of residence, for example, electricity bill; and
- a purchase agreement from your car seller.
How to apply for vehicle finance online
You can make an online application by following these steps:
- Compare the different lenders featured in our comparison tables. Click “Go to Site” for the lender you have chosen.
- This takes you to the lender’s website or application page where you fill out an application form with the relevant details.
- Once you submit the online application, the lender will look at it and approve it if you qualify. The lender may also ask you to submit additional documentation such as bank statements before the final approval.
- After the final approval, you’ll need to sign a contract. These documents show that you have agreed to the fees, interest rate, repayment term, and other terms and conditions.
- When the contract is in place, the lender either transfers the money into your bank account or pays the seller directly.
More answers to vehicle finance questions
What other options are available when financing my car?
Besides a car loan, you can also finance your set of wheels through a personal loan.
Can I get a car loan if I’m an uber driver?
Yes. Some lenders offer uber vehicle finance.
Can I get a vehicle finance if I’m self-employed?
As long as you can verify that you earn a regular, monthly income that is above a certain amount, you can still get approved for your credit.
Can I get car finance if I’m a student?
Yes. Vehicle finance for students is available in South Africa.
What do I do if my credit application is not approved?
Find out the reason why your car finance application was rejected. Make sure you fulfill eligibility requirements that have to do with your credit score, income, and documentation.
Can I buy any type of car?
The lender can set limits on the type of car you buy. For example, second-hand car finance lenders can limit the age, model, and make of the car you could buy.
How do I make repayments after taking out a car loan?
You can permit the lender to place a direct debit on your account so that repayments are automatically deducted on due dates. Alternatively, you can make the payments on your own.
What happens if I fail to pay back my debt?
The lender will repossess the car if the credit is secured. With unsecured loans, you will not risk losing your car. However, your credit score will be negatively affected and you may face legal action or have future applications rejected.
Can I get finance if I have bad credit?
Yes. Bad credit vehicle finance is available. However, loans for low credit score usually requires security or a deposit and comes with higher interest rates.
Is vehicle finance for blacklisted clients available?
Blacklisted car finance can be also be obtained although there is no guarantee for this. But, again, it may require you to put up security or a deposit, and you may have to pay higher interest rates.
Is it possible to refinance my vehicle loan?
Yes. Refinancing your car loan allows you to switch to a different lender that offers lower interest rates, fees, and flexible repayment terms.
Do I need to make a balloon payment or deposit?
Check first with your lender to make sure what the requirements are and whether you can make either of these payments if you wish to.
Learn more about vehicle finance with this short video