With an unsecured car loan you won’t risk losing your car and often can borrow more than the car’s value to cover other costs like registration. But they can be hard to find and you’ll need good credit to qualify.
How do unsecured car loans work?
An unsecured car loan works like a personal loan: You don’t have to put up any collateral and therefore can borrow more than the value of your vehicle. You can borrow more to cover insurance, additional costs or anything you need.
However, unsecured loans You may also be subject to stricter eligibility criteria, like good credit, but your car likely won’t need to meet any criteria.
The most important part of picking a lender is comparing the loans you’re offered. Here are some quick tips to help you focus your decision:
Check out the interest rate. Every loan offers a unique interest rate. Even if you have the best credit and a superb history, you may not be eligible for the lowest rates from certain lenders, so save yourself time and frustration by looking for preapproval to compare rates.
Consider the fees. Does your lender have an origination fee? A prepayment fee? These stack up and add to the total cost of your loan. Find a lender with minimal fees to avoid being nickle-and-dimed before you even set foot in a dealership.
Find the APR. The APR is the final cost of the loan. It includes the principal, interest and all the fees. By comparing the APR of different lenders, you’ll see how much one loan could cost you compared to another.
The benefits and drawbacks of an unsecured car loan
You don’t need to provide collateral against your loan, which means the application process is generally faster.
The loan amount is more flexible because you can use it however you like, including combining uses. For instance, you could take out a larger loan to cover debt consolidation and to finance your car.
The lender can choose to take your case to court if you default on your repayments.
The interest rates almost always are higher than secured car loans because there is more risk for the lender.
Because the loan has a higher risk, you may have to borrow a smaller amount than with a secured loan.
Be cautious of overborrowing
If you borrow more than the cost of your car, be careful not to apply for more than you can afford. Work out a budget to ensure you will be able to afford your repayments. These loans tend to come with higher rates than secured car loans, so take this into account when submitting an application.
Should I buy any dealer extras?
When you have an unsecured car loan, you can use your funds to purchase more than just the car. Dealer extras can be a good deal if you know what you’re getting and what you want to avoid. However, it’s often not worth it since you can often get the same service elsewhere for cheaper — if it’s even necessary at all.
You might want to avoid these dealer add-ons
Here is a list of common dealer extras and when you might not want to go for them.
Rustproofing. It may not be worth getting this done at the dealer unless you’re buying a used car. This is because many modern manufacturers will seal the car against wax and keep in under warranty for five to ten years.
Fabric protection. Generally not worth it. You can buy fabric protector and do the job yourself for much cheaper than the dealer’s price.
Paint protection. Much like fabric protection, you can do this yourself with a can of wax or have it done later for much less than what a dealer is offering.
Extended warranty. New cars usually come with a manufacturer warranty, but if you’re buying a used car, opting for an extended dealer warranty can cover any unexpected expenses after your purchase.
Prepaid maintenance plans. This depends on the car you’re buying. If you’re picking up a clunker or a car with an incomplete owner history, a prepaid maintenance plan may be worth the money. Otherwise, you might want to skip it.
Extra tinting. Most cars come with some tinting, and it’s usually cheaper to have extra tinting done elsewhere.
Extra insurance. Most policies, like GAP insurance, that are sold by dealers are usually unnecessary. Unless you’re prepared to pay a premium price for just in case, you may want to skip extra insurance.
Headlight protectors and towbars. If you know the dealer is offering a good deal, go for it. Otherwise, it’s likely to have them installed aftermarket.
Nitrogen inflation. Nitrogen inflation does have performance benefits, but you’re unlikely to notice. If you really want it, you can save money by having it done somewhere else.
An unsecured car loan can be a quick way to finance your next vehicle, but it comes with its own risks that you’ll need to understand before you borrow. Compare your rates and read up on personal loans so you can make the most informed decision.
Kellye Guinan is a seasoned financial writer with over 500 articles under her belt spanning all things loans from auto to personal to business and everything in between. With four years in the field and five years of research experience, she's able to make complex personal finance decisions easier for anyone to tackle. When she's not up to her knees learning about the latest trends in lending, she spends her time improving her own financial literacy and expertise — and maintaining a Duolingo streak of over 1,300 days.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.