How Long Should Your Car Loan Be?

When it comes to car loans, no matter if they’re regular, bad credit, bankruptcy, slow credit or any other kind of loan, it’s best to focus more on the length of the loan instead of the amount of monthly payment that you’ll be able to afford. This might sound a bit counterintuitive, but focusing on the bigger picture comes with bigger and better advantages.

While getting a good interest rate and monthly payments that you can easily afford are important when it comes to auto loans, a loan might come with a monthly payment that you just can’t quite afford. If this is the case, then you may apply for a longer term loan so that you can get a monthly payment that you can afford. The danger with this strategy is that you might actually wind up paying even more down the road.

A seven-year loan might come with lower monthly payments, but the overall interest rate will more than likely be higher than that of a five-year loan. It’s not unusual for someone to pay more than double the cost of finance charges for a seven-year loan than they would a five-year loan. Something else to think about is the fact that you’ll have two more years of car payments with a seven-year loan than you would a five-year loan.

Something else to think about with longer auto loans is that it can take you longer to build up equity, which is defined as your car being worth more than you owe on it. Having negative equity or being “upside down” on your vehicle essentially means that you owe more on your car than it’s actually worth. To keep from being upside down and to build equity, you’ll want to pay as much as you can on the original down payment for your quality used vehicle.

Before you get swept up in the idea of getting a new car, make sure that you are fully aware of what you’re getting into and the terms that you’re agreeing to. A short-term car loan can come with several long-term benefits.