2017 is set to be a bumper year for car sales with 45% of Irish consumers intending on buying*. It is also the year when a number of first round Personal Contract Plans (PCPs) are ending. Many will simply opt to roll-on their existing PCPs to finance the purchase of a new car. Others will face a final payment, known as a balloon payment, to buy out of the contract. Consumers considering rolling up should read all the small print, and they may find it’s time to burst that particular balloon.
Helen Courtney Power, Business Development Officer, for Killarney Credit Union says ‘Headline rates on some car finance deals such as PCPs can easily distract from a range of additional charges, and a great deal of inflexibility. With a personal car loan from Killarney Credit Union, you own the car from the outset. If you run into difficulty, you can talk to us about adjusting the repayment schedule and if you are in the happy position of being able to repay the loan early, you can do so without any complications or rescheduling fees."
PCPs are among the least flexible forms of finance. Essentially they are lease schemes which makes financing a new car seem affordable due to low monthly repayments. You have, in effect, hired the car for a particular period of time, usually 3-5 years, while you make these repayments. At the end of the agreement, you will have to make the balloon payment in order to own the car.
In addition, you need to be conscious of the mileage you are racking up on the car, because the balloon payment, or guaranteed minimum future value (GMFV), of the car will have been calculated with your annual mileage in mind. Crucially, with a PCP you are also restricted with what you do while you are still ‘hiring’ the car. Should your financial circumstances change and you find you can no longer afford the monthly repayments, you cannot sell off the car to pay your debt, as it is not yours to sell.
In contrast, with a personal loan from a credit union the consumer simply borrows the money to pay for a car, which they own immediately, and which they can drive as much as they please, and sell on at any time they wish.
PCPs can set up a situation where the easiest and simplest option is to roll over into a new car - and a new plan. PCPs are effectively a way of trying to ensure that you will come back and buy another car from the same dealer or manufacturer. All well and good, but what if you don’t like the brand of car or they range they have to offer any more?
Helen continued “If you arrange finance with Killarney Credit Union before going shopping for a car, you are in a much stronger position. You are effectively going as a cash buyer to the car dealer, and may well be able to negotiate a better deal. We also offer car insurance, through the credit union insurance website coveru.ie or Axa Insurance. So if you’re thinking about bursting that balloon payment, you should consider Killarney Credit Union.”
Some things to consider before signing a PCP
• To extend the term of a PCP you may be charged a rescheduling fee.
• Take note of the cap on the number of miles/kilometres you are allowed to clock up over the period of the contract.
• You may be requested to commit to certain car servicing agreements.
• Ensure you always enquire about additional fees and charges, you are entitled to a list of all additional charges so ask the garage for this before you sign any agreement.
For more information on PCP's and how they work check out www.consumerhelp.ie/pcp
*Carzone Motoring Report 2016