Despite over three quarters of cars being sold with some form of finance attached, research shows that few people fully understand what they are signing up to. At FairSquare, we hope to help you get a better understanding of the details, benefits and risks of all car finance products available to you. We also recommend you do as much research as you can before you choose a finance product.
Selecting the right way to pay for your car is just as important as choosing the car itself.
It makes sense to calculate what you can really afford each month on a car, not forgetting you need to factor in all the running costs such as insurance, car tax and maintenance.
Affordability is the key criteria all lenders use to evaluate if they should make you a finance offer. You may well be asked by a lender to provide proof of income and outgoings to secure your car finance, depending on your credit rating. Most people – and the car industry in general – tend to focus almost entirely on the monthly payment. However, you should pay much more attention to the full implications of entering into a finance agreement, considering a complete breakdown of all the potential charges during and at the end of the agreement, taking time to consider the suitability of that product to your needs.
Understanding Conditional Sale
- A Conditional Sale agreement is very similar to Hire Purchase (HP) in that it is a credit to fund the purchase of your vehicle but the only difference is that rather than having an option to purchase for a small fee at the end of the agreement, like HP, you will automatically own the vehicle once your final installment has been paid in full. Different Lenders offer either of these products
- You get to choose what amount of deposit you wish to pay up front. However, you should be aware that the lower you set your deposit, the greater the risk that you might find yourself in negative equity (i.e. the car is worth less than what is owed on your credit) should you decide to repay your credit early or wish to change your car before the end of the agreement
- Ideal for those who like to budget as it provides for a fixed repayment amount each month throughout the agreement
How Conditional Sale Works
You can either borrow an amount equal to the full purchase price of the car or put a deposit down and take a Conditional Sale credit to cover the balance
Your first monthly installment is usually taken one month after the credit is granted and most contracts are set up over either 36, 48 or 60 months.
You get full use of the car throughout the agreed period, as if you owned it (including you being the registered keeper on the V5 registration document) but the lender remains the actual owner until the end of the agreement when you have made all your repayments. You can make overpayments or early repayments free of charge should you wish.
Conditional Sale Key Facts
- Can be used to finance both new and used cars
- Spreads cost of car in fixed equal monthly installments
- You get ownership of the car at the end of the agreement (as long as the final repayment has been paid)
- You can make lump sum repayments during the contract without charge
- You need to maintain suitable insurance cover throughout the term of the agreement
- Your car is at risk of repossession if you do not maintain your monthly payments or breach any other terms of the agreement
- You can sell the car during the agreement term
- Unlike PCP you are not limited to an annual mileage or other conditions (such as wear and tear). However, as the lender owns the car until you pay the balance in full, you are required to keep the vehicle in good repair and condition as well as properly maintained and serviced and pay the necessary costs to do so
What Happens if my Circumstances Change?
If your circumstances change, we recommend you contact your lender immediately (keep records of all correspondence) and talk to them about the options available to you. This may involve restructuring your agreement in some way, to help you with the repayment of your debt. We can assist you with lender correspondence, should your circumstances change.
If you wish to settle your agreement early, you can do so by contacting the lender and pay the full outstanding balance, less a discount for early settlement providing you have maintained your monthly repayments throughout the life of your agreement.
Your Right to Terminate
You have the right to end your finance agreement. You can do so at any time and for any reason. It might be that you decide to end your agreement in the event that you are unable to make the monthly payments. In order to do so however, you should write to the finance company that you make your payments to. They will then be entitled to 50% (half) of the total amount payable, which will be shown on your agreement AND to the return of the goods. If you have already paid at least this amount plus any overdue payment and have taken reasonable care of the Goods, you will not have to pay any more. You will not receive any refund of any payments you have made up to or beyond that point.
Your Repossession Rights
If you are unable to make the monthly repayments and you’ve paid less than a third of the total amount of the agreement, the lender is able to take the car back without getting a court. The agreement will show the amount that makes up a third within the body of the agreement. In Scotland however, the lender may need to get a court order at any time.
However, if you are unable to make the monthly repayments and you’ve paid a third or more of the total amount of the agreement, then the lender is legally required to obtain a court issued order to reclaim the car at the point when your credit defaults.
In both cases, if the lender is unable to sell the car and recover the remaining value of the credit then you will be liable to repay any remaining balance on the credit as well as any costs incurred.
The lender will also report your default to a credit reference agency. Your default will be recorded on your credit file and can be viewed by other lenders and agency users who search your credit file. This may make it difficult for you and other members of your household to obtain credit in the future.