Should You Consolidate or Pay Bills with a Car Title Loan?

There are many ways to pay off or consolidate a few bills and credit card debts, but is getting a title loan the best consolidation option? I’m going to explain how title loans work, their benefits and disadvantages, and provide some alternatives if you are considering borrowing against the value of your vehicle to deal with existing debt.

How do car title loans work?

Just as it sounds, a car title loan is a personal loan secured against the value of your vehicle. Applying for a title loan is easy, can often be done online, and may not even require a credit check, which is why car title loans are attractive to someone with low or bad credit.

As a secured loan, vehicle title loans use the value of your car to secure payment. The lender will register a lien on your vehicle, which will remain until the loan is paid in full.

To qualify, you must own your vehicle outright, have a valid driver’s license and car insurance. You do not however need a good credit score although the better your credit history the lower the rate will be on your loan offer. You will also need to provide the loan provider with proof of income or employment to show that you can afford the loan payments.

The lending company will ask for the make, model & year of your vehicle, and mileage to confirm what the car is worth. You can usually borrow 25% to a maximum of 50% of the vehicle’s estimated appraisal value.

Why would you get a car title loan?

There are many reasons why people apply for a vehicle title loan. As mentioned, it is an attractive debt consolidation loan option for those with poor credit. You might use the money to pay off overdue bills or pay down credit card debts or consolidate payday loans.

The problem is many people use title loans as an alternative to a more traditional payday loan when in need of quick cash. I would caution against borrowing against your vehicle because you need money to pay for everyday living costs or unexpected expenses. While cheaper than a traditional payday loan, this is still a temporary fix to a cash flow problem.

What are the disadvantages of title loans?

As mentioned, car title loans can be very expensive. Rates of 35% and even 49% are not unusual, and administration and valuation fees can add several hundred dollars to the amount you have to repay.

We have filed bankruptcies and proposals for people who have taken out a title loan on top of credit card and other debts, only to see them lose their car because they could not repay the loan. This was an unnecessary loss since the debts they paid off with the proceeds of their title loan would have been discharged by bankruptcy and in most cases, they would have kept their vehicle since it was worth less than the allowable exemption limit.

Another concern is what happens if you still owe money on the loan when you want or need to replace your vehicle. You will be required to pay off the balance or roll-over the remaining loan into your new loan, which can lead to further debt problems.

Car loan: Cost of goods: $25,995 Cost of borrowing: $18,297 78 month term Total owing: $48,768 Current black book value of car: $13,775

Alternatives to consolidating debt with a car title loan

You may want a loan to pay off existing debt or bills but refinancing your car may not be the best solution.

If you already owe more debt than you can pay, and all you are doing is buying time with a short-term title loan, a better option may be to talk with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee about real debt relief options like a consumer proposal. The sooner you talk to a trustee, the more consolidation options you have.

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