For consumers in need of immediate financial assistance, title loans have long been one of the most common solutions. In June 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed several new regulations to make it less likely that consumers would end up trapped in a continually worsening cycle of debt. If you’re considering a title loan, here’s what you need to know about them and what’s new about them as of 2017:
Title Loans: How They Work
The title loan process is simple and quick, which are two of the main reasons these types of loans are so attractive to consumers facing financial hardships. To obtain a title loan, you bring your car to the title loan company’s location, where the lender inspects it. After determining the current market value of your car, the lender can issue you a loan based on that amount (usually anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of your car’s trade-in value). You provide the lender with your car title to obtain the loan.
Many title loan companies offer an online application process where you enter a few basic pieces of information and get preapproval for a title loan. Since the lender needs to examine your car before issuing you the loan, you still need to go in to a title loan company’s office. However, some online applications can provide you with an estimate of how much you could get with a title loan, based on the vehicle information that you provide.
Each title loan has a repayment period specified in the contract. You keep your car throughout the repayment period, and you get your title back when you repay the balance on your loan. Title loans have interest charges and sometimes fees, and if you’re unable to repay the loan in the designated time period, it rolls over and incurs further interest charges and fees. If you default on the loan, the lender can repossess your car.
Title loans don’t require a credit check, making them a popular option among consumers with bad credit. When you repay your title loan on time, you can improve your credit score.
The CFPB’s new regulations impose several restrictions on the title loan industry and the payday loan industry, as both types of loans tend to have high interest rates that can leave consumers facing more and more debt.
Title loan companies must now check whether the borrower has sufficient income to repay the loan within the designated time frame, while also having enough for any other bills and living expenses. One issue for many consumers that are unable to pay is that the title loan company debits their account, and then they get stuck with overdraft fees, in addition to their outstanding title loan debts. Lenders now have to provide consumers with written notice prior to debiting their bank accounts. If the payment fails on two separate occasions, the lender needs the borrower’s written authorization to charge the account again.
The regulations also put a cap on how many short-term loans, including title loans, that borrowers can have. Lenders can’t issue title loans to consumers who already have another short-term loan with an outstanding balance, and they can’t issue title loans to consumers who have spent more than 90 days over the last 12 months in debt for a short-term loan.
Title loans have their supporters and their detractors. The former point out that title loans provide a form of financial assistance for borrowers who are unable to get other types of loans. The latter criticize title loan companies for the high interest rates and fees they charge. Whether or not to apply for a title loan depends entirely on your own financial situation. While interest rates won’t be as low as they would for a bank loan, they’re much easier to get, and can be an excellent option when you need cash right away.