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Can I get a title loan with no car title?

Learn about your options if your title isn't clear or it's missing.

Title loans are a quick way to cash in on the value of your car if you need money fast and more than a payday or installment loan can offer. These loans use your car’s title as collateral so you generally need one to qualify — and it often can’t be used as collateral for another loan. But you do have some options if you don’t have a clear title on hand.

Can I get a title loan if I don’t have a car title?

No, you can’t get a title loan if you don’t have a car title. Without using your car’s title as collateral, you’d have an unsecured installment loan instead and likely would only qualify for a smaller loan. Lenders typically ask you to bring in a copy of your title when you apply.

However, it’s possible to get a loan backed by your car if you’re already using your title as collateral or you simply can’t find it.

How to get a car title loan without a clear title

You generally can’t get a title loan unless you have a clear title — meaning it isn’t being used for collateral for another loan. However, you might be able to get an auto equity loan.

Like home equity loans, auto equity loans allow you to borrow against the value you currently own in your car. Say you’ve only paid off 70% of your loan and want to use it as collateral. An auto equity loan allows you to borrow against that 70% that you own.

While there’s a difference between auto equity and auto title loans, don’t count out auto title lenders right away. Some lenders use the terms interchangeably.

How auto equity loans work

How to get a title for a car with no title

When you don’t have your title or title information, you need to get a duplicate copy from your local DMV. How this works depends on your state.

In some states like New York, you can fill out an online form and have it mailed within two or three business days. In others like California and Texas, you might need to download and mail in a form to the DMV or apply in person.

Typically, you need to include the following when you apply:

  • Your application. If you’re applying by mail, you’ll need to include a completed and signed application. Some states might require you to have your form notarized.
  • Proof of identity. Any government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport is acceptable.
  • A title replacement fee. Some states might require you to pay by money order while others might accept a personal or cashier’s check.

Other requirements for title loans

In addition to having a car title, you typically need to meet the following requirements to get a title loan:

  • Be the age of majority. In most states, you must be at least 18 years old to get a title loan. In Alabama and Nebraska, the age of majority is 19, and in Mississippi it’s 21.
  • Have proof of income. Most title lenders ask to see recent pay stubs, bank statements or receipts of pensions, benefits or other types of income you receive. You don’t necessarily need to be employed.
  • Have a valid government-issued ID. Lenders typically ask to see your driver’s license, passport or other government-issued photo identification.
  • Have proof of residence. Some ask to see a copy of your lease, a recent utility bill or mortgage agreement to verify your current address.

No title? Consider these alternatives instead

If you don’t have a car title, there are other ways to get cash fast when you don’t have the best credit:

  • Payday loans. When you only need a couple hundred dollars, a payday loan can be just as fast — and nearly as expensive — as a title loan. You typically don’t need good credit for a payday loan.
  • Installment loans. Need a few thousand dollars? A short-term installment loan can be nearly as fast and give you more forgiving monthly repayments. You also don’t need good credit — though these loans are also costly.
  • Payday alternative loans. If you aren’t in a rush, you might want to see if your local federal credit union offers payday alternative loans (PALS). These loans are open to all credit types with APRs capped at 28% — title loans can easily top 300% APR — though you’ll have to become a credit union member to qualify.
  • Local resources. Anyone that frequently needs a little extra help might want to check out local government programs that can help you with expenses like food or childcare.

Ultimately, having your title will make it easier to get financing on your car. After you make your last car payment, you should receive the title in the mail. If you’ve lost your title document or want other information on the DMV’s procedures, read our guide on how car titles work.

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Bottom line

You need your car’s title to get a title loan. But it’s still possible to use that title as collateral even if it’s currently being used as collateral for another loan or you’ve lost it. Get an auto equity loan or send in for a new copy from your local DMV.

Check out our guide to title loans to learn more about how this type of short-term financing works.

Frequently asked questions

How do I get a title loan if I don’t have a job?

Many lenders consider any type of money coming in as income — including unemployment benefits. However, some might require you to be employed. Check to make sure you meet all of a lender’s minimum eligibility requirements before you apply.

What happens if my car breaks down when I have a title loan?

It depends on the lender, but generally you need to continue paying off the loan even if the car breaks down. If you’re unable to pay off the loan, the lender will eventually repossess your car — and damage your credit in the meantime.

What kind of bank account do I need for a title loan?

Many lenders require you to have a checking account. However, it’s sometimes possible to get a title loan without an account if you apply in person. Lenders don’t always advertise this online, so you might want to call ahead before you apply to make sure it’s not required.

Image source: shutterstock

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