Car Payment Calculator
Our calculators are intended to produce rough estimates provided solely for informational purposes. You should not take action based on the information provided through this calculator alone. When available, we recommend you use interest rate information provided to you by your dealer or lender.
With the average price of a new vehicle sitting above $35,000 and no sign of this number coming down, very few people can afford to pay cash for a new car. If you’re like most people, you’ll be financing the purchase of your next car or SUV, and that means taking out a car loan.
Auto loans are pretty simple once you break them down. You can apply for one from a bank, credit union, or other lending institutions – your car dealer can even help you apply. The car loan company pays the dealer a lump sum for the car, and they technically own it while you repay the loan over several years. Once the loan term is up, you’ve paid for the car plus interest. Interest is what the auto loan company charges you to borrow the money.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why your monthly car payment may matter more to you than a car’s MSRP. With our car payment calculator, you can quickly determine how much you’ll owe the loan company each month. That car payment has to fit in your monthly budget, so let’s get started and figure out just what it’s going to be.
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A down payment is the portion of the car’s price that you pay upfront. Because you’ve paid for part of the car with it, it lowers the amount of money you need to borrow and thus lowers your monthly loan payment. As a general rule, you should pay 20 percent of the price of the vehicle as a down payment. That’s because vehicles lose value, or depreciate, rapidly. If you make a small down payment or no down payment, you can end up owing more on your auto loan than your car or SUV is worth. That can come back to bite you if you need to sell the car or if it’s totaled in an accident.
Though putting 20 percent down is recommended, you don’t have to put that much money down. Some car loans don’t require any money down. However, if you have money saved for a down payment, enter that amount in the down payment box of the calculator.
Trade-in value is how much any vehicle you’re trading in for a new car is worth, minus any money you owe on it. When you trade in a car, the dealer buys it from you and applies that amount to the price of your new car. Depending on how much you owe, a trade-in can significantly lower the amount you have to borrow on a car loan and your payments or it can actually raise the amount you’ll need to borrow and the amount you pay every month.
Let’s say you have a trade-in that’s worth $20,000, and you owe $15,000 on it for an existing auto loan. The dealer buys the car from you and applies $5,000 (the difference between the car’s value and what you owe on it) to your new car’s price. That lowers your loan amount by $5,000. This is especially helpful if you don’t have money saved for a down payment.
On the other hand, if you owe $25,000 on that $20,000 trade-in, you have what is called negative equity; you owe more than your car is worth. The dealer will still take the trade-in, but instead of deducting $5,000 from your new car’s price, they’re going to add $5,000. That’s because they are going to pay off your full auto loan when they accept your trade, and they’re going to want that money back. Negative equity raises the amount you need to borrow and your monthly payment, as your new auto loan has to cover your new car and your old one. It’s not a great situation to be in. This is why it’s important to make as big a down payment as you can when buying a new car – it’ll help you avoid a negative-equity situation like this at trade-in, and you won’t get trapped in a cycle of adding old car debt on to new loans.
To find out how much to enter in the trade-in section of the calculator, check your trade-in value and subtract the amount you owe on your car loan. Then enter that amount in the trade-in value box.
Car Sales Tax
Car sales tax rates are set by your state, and unlike other parts of a new-car purchase, they aren’t negotiable. The car sales tax in your state is a percentage of the vehicle’s price, and the amount is usually added to your auto loan. Simply look up your state’s car sales tax rate and enter it in the field.
Car Loan Interest Rate
Your auto loan interest rate will have a big impact on your monthly car payment. The interest rate is how a car loan company makes money – think of it as a rental fee you pay for using their money to buy a car. It’s a percentage of the loan amount that accrues over the life of the loan.
Your interest rate is determined mainly by how much of a risk you represent to the loan company. If you have a low debt-to-income ratio, a steady employment history, and a good credit score, you’re considered more likely to repay them, making you a low-risk borrower in the loan company’s eyes. In this case, you’ll probably qualify for a lower rate. If you have a lot of debt, a history of nonpayment, and a bad credit score, you’ll have a higher interest rate and the loan will cost you more money over time. You can still get a car loan with bad credit. It just may take a few extra steps.
You can shop around for interest rates from different lenders, so don’t take the first rate you’re offered. Know your credit score before you shop, and know the ballpark rate you should qualify for. You can also work to rehab your credit in the months before you buy a new car to get a better rate, which can save you thousands over the life of your loan and get you a lower monthly car payment.
APR Range: 1.99% - 27%
Loan Term: 24 - 84 months
Loan Range: $8,000 - $100,000
At least 18 years old, resident of the U.S. (except Alaska and Hawaii), with min. income of $1,800/month and min. credit score of 500
Max mileage of 125,000 miles, 10 years old or newer
myAutoloan presents up to four offers from a variety of participating lenders based on your specific loan requirements, offering a wide variety of choice and selections.
APR Range: 3.34% - 17.49% (AutoPay Discount of 0.50% also included)
Loan Term: 24 - 144 months
Loan Range: $5,000 - $100,000
Must have good to excellent credit*
LightStream caters heavily to applicants with very strong credit scores, offering a streamlined application process and a Rate Beat program that guarantees they'll beat any other qualifying offers an applicant receives.LEARN MORE
APR Range: 3.99% - 10.08%
Loan Term: 36 - 72 months
Loan Range: $4,000+
$1,800/month minimum income requirements, resident of the U.S. (except Alaska or Hawaii)
Limited to vehicles available through the Capital One network of dealers
Capital One offers a pre-qualification, which allows you to take your offer to any participating dealer within 30 days.LEARN MORE
APR Range: 4.29% - 24.99%
Loan Term: 48 - 72 months
Loan Range: $4,000+
At least 18 years old
Limited to vehicles available through the Chase network of dealers, no older than 2008
After your application is approved, Chase will send the information to the dealer you choose. The offer is good for 30 days.LEARN MORE
|Bank of America|
APR Range: 3.49+%
Loan Term: 12 - 75 months
Loan Range: $7,500 - $100,000
At least 18 years old (19 in Alabama or Nebraska) U.S. resident
Max mileage of 125,000 miles, 10 years old or newer, valued at $6,000+, plus additional restrictions
Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients can receive an interest rate discount of 0.25-0.50% depending on their tier at the time of applying for an auto loan.LEARN MORE
Disclaimer: All information provided here is based on Annual Percentage Rate estimates from the websites of the individual lenders on 12/18/2018. It is not a binding or guaranteed loan offer. Individual auto loan rates will vary.
Notes: In compiling this data, we used new-car purchase rates for Virginia.
*To meet LightStream's standard for good credit, you must have several years of credit history with a variety of account types, including credit cards, installment debt (vehicle loans), and mortgages. LightStream also prefers to see few, if any, delinquencies and a history of savings, evidenced by things like deposit accounts and manageable revolving credit card debt. You'll also want to provide proof of stable and sufficient income to repay current debt obligations as well as any new loan with LightStream.
Car Loan Term
An auto loan’s term is how long you have to pay the loan back. Go for a long-term loan and you’ll have lower monthly payments, but it’ll take longer to pay the money back. That means you’ll also be at risk for owing more than the car is worth, and you’ll pay more interest because it has more time to accrue. Shorter-term loans are paid back more quickly and save you money on interest, but they have higher monthly payments. Play around with the loan terms in the calculator to find a balance between the monthly payments you can afford and one that gets your loan paid off quickly.
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