Roughly nine in 10 of all new cars sold in the UK are purchased using finance, with personal contract purchase (PCP) loans accounting for a significant portion of sales, according to the latest data from the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA). With attractive interest rates, long repayment terms and the opportunity to get behind the wheel of your dream car faster, it’s no surprise PCP is one of the most popular car finance options in the UK.
Of course, it’s important to factor in your unique situation and develop an in-depth understanding of PCP loans before you commit. This guide is designed to help you understand all the advantages and disadvantages of PCP car finance. Armed with knowledge, you’ll be able to make an informed and educated decision about whether a PCP loan is right for you.
What is a PCP loan?
Before we get stuck into the advantages and disadvantages of PCP car finance, let’s take a moment to define what personal contract purchase means. The term describes a type of loan that sees you put down an initial deposit on a car (although there are no-deposit options), and then continue to make repayments.
It builds on the concept of hire purchase agreements and includes the option to purchase the car outright at the end of the loan. The main difference is that the final resale value of the vehicle is calculated at the beginning of the loan. This figure is known as the Guaranteed Minimum Future Value (GMFV) and is assessed using several factors, including the age of the car at the end of the loan, and expected mileage.
Most PCP loans start with a deposit of around 10% though this can vary depending on the lender, your credit rating and the unique terms and conditions of your contract. After making an initial deposit you’ll continue to pay monthly instalments plus interest over the lifetime of the loan. Most PCP loans span for two to four years – though again, this can vary.
When your loan ends and all instalments have been paid, you have the option to purchase the vehicle outright by making a balloon payment. The value of the balloon payment is calculated using the GMFV agreed on at the beginning of the loan. Alternatively, you can choose to return the car and start another PCP loan, which gets you behind the wheel of a new model. If the vehicle is worth less than the GMFV, you will need to pay the difference when returning the car.
Now you know more about the specifics of personal contract purchase, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of PCP car finance.
Advantages of PCP car finance:
- Upgrade to a new car frequently
PCP loans usually span for two to four years and offer the option to roll on to a new contract after the final instalment has been made. Many motorists choose this option as it’s an easy and affordable way to regularly upgrade your car.
- Low fixed monthly payments
The fixed monthly payments of PCP loans are generally lower than hire purchase (HP) contracts. This makes PCP loans an attractive option if you’re on a strict monthly budget.
- Affordable deposits
As well as low fixed monthly payments, PCP loans require small deposits, often as low as 10%. Our car loan affordability calculator makes it easy to get an idea of how far your deposit will go.
- Flexible options
Flexibility is one of the biggest advantages of PCP loans. Depending on the GMFV agreed on at the start of your loan, you can choose to roll over to a new PCP loan, make a balloon payment to own the car outright or simply hand back the keys with no more to pay. If you love the idea of flexibility and aren’t sure if you want to keep the car or return it at the end of the contract, PCP loans are a great option.
- Finance secured against the car
Unlike other finance options, PCP loans are secured against the value of the car. This means you don’t have to rely on other assets like a home or cash investments.
- Stretch your budget
With deposits as low as 10% and affordable monthly repayments, PCP loans stretch your budget much further than if you were to purchase a car with cash alone. This allows you to expand your search and consider cars that are newer or higher spec. In the long run, this can unlock big savings. For example, a PCP loan may mean you can afford a car with better mileage, which will significantly reduce your petrol expenses. Similarly, upgrading to a newer car with a PCP loan can slash maintenance and servicing costs.
Disadvantages of PCP car finance:
- Capped mileage
Most PCP loans feature mileage caps written into the contract. This is because mileage can have a big impact on the value of a car. If you exceed the mileage cap used to calculate the GMFV at the start of your loan you could face extra charges. These may be applied whether you choose to return the car or purchase it via a balloon payment. Excess mileage penalties can be expensive and add a significant percentage to the total cost of your loan. To avoid nasty surprises at the end of your loan, it’s important to be realistic about your expected mileage when calculating GMFV.
- Limits on wear and tear
Normal wear and tear is fine but if you plan to put your car through its paces on 4WD tracks or transport muddy pets on a regular basis, PCP loans can be a little restricting. Any damage that exceeds normal wear and tear can also see charges added to your final instalment or balloon payment.
Find out more about PCP car finance
Considering PCP car finance for your next ride? Our experienced team is always available to talk you through the advantages and disadvantages of PCP car finance. Get in touch by email or give us a call on 01246 458 810 to find out more.
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