Before taking out a car title loan, it’s important to understand the risks involved. One of the biggest dangers is that the lender can take your vehicle away from you if you don’t make your payments on time.
This type of loan can be especially difficult to repay, so make sure you understand the terms before signing anything. Otherwise, you could end up losing your transportation and being stuck in a difficult financial situation.
What are car title loans?
When you take out a car title loan, or “pink slip loan,” you are borrowing money against the value of your car. The lender will hold onto your car title as collateral for the loan. These loans are typically for small amounts of money, starting at $100, and have short repayment periods of 15 to 30 days.
There are many reasons why people may need to take out a loan. Some have poor credit and need fast cash, while others simply don’t have the time to go through a lengthy application process. For those in need of quick cash, car title loans are a great option. Most lenders have little to no credit requirements and the application process is usually simple. Funding can be received as soon as 24 hours later, sometimes even sooner.
There are many loan products available that are easy to access but come with high-interest rates. Some states have restrictions on how much interest lenders can charge, while others have no such limitations. In some states, car title loans are not allowed.
Owning your car outright is generally necessary to obtain a car title loan in states where they are available. Some lenders may provide these loans even when your vehicle is nearly paid off, but this is less common.
How do car title loans work?
There are two main types of car title loans: single-payment and installment. With a single-payment loan, you borrow the full amount of the loan plus interest and fees and then pay it back within a month or so. An installment loan can be paid back over three or six months, depending on the lender.
Title loans can be used for cars, motorcycles, boats, and recreational vehicles. To apply, you’ll need to visit a physical location and show your vehicle to the lender. You’ll also need to provide a clear title, proof of insurance, and a photo ID. The lender may also want a set of keys for your vehicle. During the repayment period, you’ll keep possession of your vehicle unless you default on the loan.
Car title loans are a type of loan that allows you to borrow money using your car as collateral. These loans can be helpful in times of emergency when you need quick cash, but they come with high fees and the risk of losing your car. Here’s how they work:
Say you own a car worth $5,000 and find yourself in an emergency where you need $1,000. A car title loan would let you borrow against your vehicle so you could get the $1,000 quickly.
Borrowing money can be expensive, especially when you factor in fees and interest charges. Many lenders charge a monthly finance fee, which can add up to a high annual percentage rate (APR). For example, a $1,000 loan with a 25% monthly finance fee would have an APR of 300%. This means that even if you repay the loan in full within 30 days, you would still owe an additional $250 in interest.
Late payments can also result in costly penalties, making it even more difficult to repay the loan. Some lenders also charge origination, processing, and document fees, which can increase borrowing costs even further. You may also be required to obtain and pay for a roadside service plan for your vehicle.
Disadvantages of car title loans
When you take out a car title loan, you may be able to get the money you need quickly and easily. However, this convenience comes with serious costs and risks, as Graciela Aponte-Diaz, director of federal campaigns at the Center for Responsible Lending, explains.
“Rolling over the loan into another cycle with additional fees is common when people can’t pay back the loan on time,” says Bruce McClary, senior vice president of communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “This creates a very difficult situation for those who are already struggling to repay—it’s the definition of a debt trap.”
The biggest downside to taking out a car title loan is that you could lose your car. This happens when you can’t repay the loan and the lender seizes your vehicle to recoup their money.
A title loan can be a very stressful experience, given the very real risk of losing your main means of transportation. This is especially true when “some car title lenders install a GPS device – nicknamed a ‘kill switch – that can prevent the borrower’s car from starting, using this practice as a means of collecting a debt or making it easier to seize the car,” as Aponte-Diaz points out.
Alternatives to car title loans
There are some serious downsides to using payday loans. McClary recommends talking to traditional banks and credit unions to explore less costly lending options. You can also use a credit card, which may have lower interest rates, to meet your short-term cash needs.
It’s never too late to improve your financial situation. No matter your previous history, there are always options available to help you get back on track.
“There are a lot of credit unions and other traditional lenders who are willing to work with customers who may have struggled in the past,” McClary says. “It’s worth investigating all of your alternatives.”
Apply for a personal loan
Even though it may be difficult to get approved for a personal loan with bad credit, there are still some options available. Some online lenders specialize in loans for people with bad credit, which you may be eligible for.
As a credit union member, you have access to a variety of financial services that can help you in times of need. One option is to apply for a loan with a cosigner. This can increase your chances of approval and help you get the funds you need. Another option is to explain your situation to a banker and ask for their help. They may be able to approve you for a loan based on your good banking history and strong relationship with the credit union.
Seek a payday alternative loan
There are several alternatives to traditional loans that can be considered when you need money. One option is a loan from a credit union. These loans, called “payday alternative loans,” are available through some credit unions and may be a more affordable option than other types of loans. Loan amounts typically range from $200 – $2,000, and can be paid back over one to twelve months. The application fee for these loans is usually capped at $20, and the interest rate is typically lower than with other types of loans, making them more affordable overall.
Use a credit card
There are a few options available to those who find themselves in a dire financial emergency. One option is to use a credit card. Another option is to pull funds from your credit card through a cash advance.
As you use your credit card, keep in mind that the cash advance rate is usually higher than the purchase rate—it could even be up to 30% variable. Also, there’s no grace period for cash advances, so interest will start accruing immediately. Finally, remember that you’ll likely have to pay an ATM fee to withdraw these funds.
It’s generally not a good idea to add to your credit card debt. But, McClary says, it’s usually better than taking out a car title loan.
The bottom line
Car title loans can be a helpful way to get quick cash. However, the costs are often not worth the risk, and you may end up in a worse position than before taking out the loan. Consider more affordable alternatives, like credit cards, personal loans, or payday alternative loans, before resorting to a car title loan.
But, if you have no other options and must use a car title loan, be sure to carefully read the fine print. Auto title lenders are required by federal law to show you loan terms in writing before signing. They must also be honest about the total cost of the loan.