Buying a new car is exciting. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly drive, or a two-seater sports car, finding a new set of wheels can be fun.

However, a car is also likely to be expensive. In fact, after a house, a car is probably the second highest expense you’ll ever face. Car finance gives you the option of breaking down that expense into manageable chunks.

There are plenty of different types of car finance agreements available. With our wide range of lenders, you are sure to find one that accommodates your needs and circumstances – even if you have a poor credit score.

This article will break down what a balloon payment is, as well as what happens and your possible options if you can’t afford to pay it.

What is a balloon payment?

In order to understand what happens if you can’t pay a balloon payment, it’s worth outlining what these are. You can also check out our guide to how balloon payments work for more detail.

In car finance terms, a balloon payment is a one-off lump sum plus an option to purchase and possible admin fees, that you owe at the end of your agreement if you wish to own the car.

Not all car finance agreements have a balloon payment. For both Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) and lease agreements, you’ll face a balloon payment at the agreement’s end. Because you’re making this final balloon payment, you’ll benefit from lower monthly repayments during the term of your agreement. By making this payment at the end of a PCP agreement, you’ll own the car outright. On the other hand, it simply makes monthly payments lower for a lease agreement with no option to own the car.

A balloon payment is optional with PCP, but not optional with a lease agreement. If you don’t want to own the car at the end of your PCP agreement, you can hand it back or choose another finance agreement with the same lender as long as the vehicle is in good condition, in line with the contract terms and within the agreed mileage.

What happens if you can’t pay your balloon payment?

There are a number of eventualities if you can’t afford your balloon payment.

Late fees or penalties

In some instances, you may face late fees or penalties by the lender. These are additional charges on top of what you owe for the balloon payment.

Default and repossession

If you don’t confirm to your lender what end-of-deal option you want, they may automatically try to take the payment. If you don’t have the available money, you may therefore end up defaulting on the finance agreement.

There are any number of steps that a lender can take if you default on a loan. Your account may be sent to a debt collection agency to try and recover outstanding payments. This will have consequences for your credit score and future loan viability.

Alternatively, the lender may try to initiate repossession of your vehicle. This essentially means they reclaim the vehicle as collateral for the debt. This also has consequences for your credit score.

Legal action

In more extreme instances, you may face legal action, which could lead to a court judgment against you. Depending on the court order, the lender may be allowed to seize collateral to make up for the debt. Alternatively, you may be subject to wage garnishment, where an employer is required to deduct money from your salary until your debt is paid off.

Impact on credit score

In any of the above instances, your credit score will suffer. Defaulting on your car finance agreement and experiencing repossession will negatively impact your credit rating. A lower score then reduces your future loan viability, making it harder to obtain agreements. You’ll also likely face higher interest rates and less appealing terms for any future loans.

What to do if you can’t afford your balloon payment

If you can’t afford your balloon payment, you have some options.

Refinance your balloon payment

My Car Credit offers balloon payment finance. This works like any other finance agreement. You’ll break down the lump sum of the balloon into manageable monthly repayments.

We can help individuals with all credit profiles, using our large panel of lenders to find an agreement that’s right for you.

Negotiate with the lender

If you think you can’t afford your balloon payment, contact your lender sooner rather than later. You may be able to renegotiate the terms of the loan, benefiting from an extension or refinancing the balloon payment.

Hand back the vehicle

With PCP car finance, you don’t have to make the final balloon payment. You can hand the vehicle back at the end of the agreement as long as the vehicle is in good condition, in line with the contract terms and within the agreed mileage.

However, this isn’t suitable for those who need their car on a daily basis. Plus, you’ll have to shop around for a new finance deal for your next set of wheels. By making the balloon payment, you’ll own the car outright, and can use it as you please.

Sell or trade the vehicle in

Depending on your circumstances and the agreement, you may be able to either trade in or sell your vehicle if you can’t afford the balloon.

Remember that you’ll only be able to do so if its market value is enough to cover the outstanding balance on your loan.

Discuss balloon payment refinancing with My Car Credit

You have options if you can’t pay your balloon payment.

At My Car Credit, we work with individuals with all credit profiles to help them find the right balloon payment refinancing. Use our online calculator to get an instant, no-obligation quote for your expected monthly payments, rate of interest, and total payable amount. Please note that should you progress, some lenders may perform a hard search on your credit file.

Rates from 9.9% APR. Representative APR 12.4%

Evolution Funding Ltd T/A My Car Credit

My Credit Rating


  • You are a home owner
  • You have been on the electoral role for a long period of time
  • You have current credit arrangements and mortgage with no defaults
  • You have no CCJs, credit arrears or missed payments
  • You rarely apply for credit
  • You are employed or self-employed


  • You are on the electoral role
  • You are a home owner or long standing tenant
  • You have a stable employment history
  • You have current credit arrangements with occasional missed payments
  • You have no CCJs


  • You are or have recently been on the electoral role
  • You may have recently changed address
  • You may have occasional missed payments
  • You may have an old CCJ
  • You may have regularly applied for credit


  • You may have had frequent changes in address
  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • You may have exceeded credit card limits
  • You may have missed payments on current agreements
  • You may have had a CCJ in the past


  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • Your credit cards are over their limits
  • You have recent CCJs
  • You may have been refused credit elsewhere
  • You may be in a debt management plan

X monthly repayments of

Typical rate

Loan amount

Total payable




*for illustration purposes only

No impact on your credit score*

Representative Example

Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 12.4%, annual interest rate (fixed) 12.36%, 47 monthly payments of £196.44 followed by 1 payment of £206.44 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £1,939.12, total amount payable is £9,439.12.

Evolution Funding Limited, trading as My Car Credit, is a credit broker and not a lender.

Please ensure you can afford the repayments for the duration of the loan before entering into a credit agreement.

*Initial application is a soft search. Should you progress, some lenders may perform a hard search on your credit file.

Require more help?

Got a question you can’t find the answer to, or need some advice and guidance around taking out car finance? Our Car Credit Specialists are friendly, experienced, and here to help so get in touch today!