How to apply for a car loan

So, you’ve saved, you’ve researched, you’ve found the car that will suit you and the best new car finance to fit your situation. What next?

It’s time to buy, baby!

Rest assured, applying for a car loan is simple and stress-free when you know what to expect and you’re prepared.

We recommend doing a few things before you apply for finance.

1. Health check your credit rating.

When it comes to getting a loan, it’s a numbers game. Well, a dollars game really. You need to show you are capable of repaying a loan by having paid any previous loans and lines of credit, have a history of saving. These behaviours suggest to a lender that you are a good candidate to lend money to .

Your credit rating may not be as good as you think it is if you have some old debts or late payments hanging over you. One thing to keep in mind is that every credit check you undertake negatively affects your credit score, as does getting rejected for a loan.

What is a credit score? Simply, a credit score is a number based on the data in your credit file, that helps lenders determine your credit worthiness. More on credit scores here, if you’re interested.

Tip: If you are guilty of any of the bad credit behaviours below, consider holding off on getting a credit check until you have demonstrated good credit behaviour.

Are you at risk of a bad credit score?

  • Unpaid or overdue loans or credit (including credit cards)
  • Numerous credit cards
  • Numerous credit applications and enquiries
  • Debt agreements or personal insolvency agreements relating to bankruptcy
  • High level of borrowed credit already
  • Multiple credit checks conducted

Once you have paid down debt, established a pattern of on-time payments, and can show regular good credit behaviour, obtain a copy of your credit rating.

2. Have your paperwork ready to rock’n’roll.

The lender needs to determine that a) you are who you say you are, and b) you are able to make repayments as per the loan requirements. In order to determine this, you will need to provide various documents.

The documents you will need are:

  • Proof of identity, like a driver’s licence or passport
  • Employment and income verification, like a recent tax return or payslips from recent months
  • Details of any assets or liabilities you may have (such as credit cards or personal loans) and possibly bank statements to show savings and repayments
  • Contact details of your employer, past finance lenders, and landlord or property manager if you rent
  • Details of the car you intend to purchase, if you know which car you intend to purchase

3. Want to move swiftly? Consider conditional finance pre-approval or loan pre-approval.

With your conditional loan pre-approval, you can move quickly to get the car you want. Imagine finding your ideal car, within your budget, only to be pipped at the post because you didn’t have the new car finance the day/hour/minute you needed it.

Keep in mind though that pre-approval does expire after a set period, usually 90 days.

Select your lender

You can get new car finance from various lenders – credit unions, banks, building societies, some car dealerships, finance brokers. It’s important to remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to car loans, so you need to shop around for the right loan for your situation.

Questions you should ask prospective lenders.

As with any big purchase, do your research and write notes before you meet with any lenders so you don’t forget what to ask. If this is your first, or second, loan it can be overwhelming. Questions we recommend asking:

  • Can I get pre-approval and how long will it be valid?
  • Is there a penalty fee if I pay off my loan early?
  • What is the interest rate and is it fixed or variable?
  • Can I qualify for a lower interest rate? If yes, how?
  • Are there any fees you haven’t mentioned, like application or monthly admin fees?
  • How do I need to make my repayments and how do I check how much I owe?

Tip: Want an easy way to stay on track with your payments? Queensland Country Credit Union’s bill paying tool for Members, SmartBudget may be able to help. Ask us about New Car Finance or SmartBudget here.

How to apply for a car loan

In today’s technological world, enquiring about a loan is super easy. You can live chat via the lender’s website, phone, book a face-to-face appointment via the website, or even apply online when you’re ready.

Once you’ve applied, your approval usually comes through within 48 hours, depending on your financier.

Find out more about our New Car Loan here.