Car buyers are being warned about being stung by hidden fees in unregulated car finance deals that could leave them thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Unregulated car finance falls outside the Consumer Credit Act 1974 leaving those who want to end their car finance agreements early, part-exchange the vehicle or pay off the total value facing large penalties.
In one case reported to This is Money, a motorist was charged an early settlement fee of £8,550 when they ended a finance agreement for a Lamborghini.
Unregulated finance warning; Magnitude Finance said motorists need to be mindful of hidden exit fees as part of unregulated agreements
Magnitude Finance, which specialises in finance packages for high-value motors, advises those financing expensive cars in particular to be mindful and consider regulated and unregulated options before signing any contract.
It said the expensive exit fees for unregulated agreements can be equal to the full interest outstanding or in some instances a levy of up to five per cent charged against the remaining balance.
However CCA regulated agreements, which are ideally suited to those wanting to change cars regularly or end finance agreements early, receive a statutory rebate of interest charges and normally an exit fee equal to around just 58 days interest charge.
The worst case identified by the firm was an exit fee for a finance agreement on a Lamborghini Huracán Performante costing £220,000.
It included a five per cent charge on the outstanding balance of £171,000 and the customer having to pay a proportion of the monthly interest.
The finance provider warned that this level of penalty can wipe out any equity clients believe they have in their vehicles.
And it’s not just supercar owners who are at risk.
That’s because unregulated finance agreements are also being sold to motorists financing vehicles with a value of more than £25,000.
The worst case identified by the firm was an £8,550 exit fee for a finance agreement on a Lamborghini Huracán Performante costing £220,000.
Compliance director at Magnitude Finance, Mark Lloyd, said: ‘A growing number of people are coming to us for help saying their car finance provider did not tell them about exit fees and didn’t even offer the choice of regulated finance.
‘This fails to meet treating customers fairly guidelines set out by the Financial Conduct Authority.
‘Customers should be given the choice of regulated and unregulated finance agreements with both options clearly explained at the outset.
‘This is not happening with many clients being shoehorned into unregulated finance deals that are not fit for purpose.
‘Those selling these products do so because they are very lucrative due to high interest charges being front-loaded at the start of the agreement and expensive exit fees.
‘The more expensive the car, the harder hit people are.’
As most luxury car buyers change their cars regularly, Magnitude Finance says an unregulated finance agreement with high exit fees calculated against the outstanding balance, which is usually a large amount, is clearly unsuitable.
Be careful of business use disclaimers
Magnitude Finance also said that some providers were asking high-value-car buyers to sign a business use disclaimer when they were not a business user
The company also warned people to look out for being asked to sign a business use disclaimer when they are not a business user as this is how many finance companies are flouting the regulations.
Unregulated agreements were created for those using cars for business or high net worth individuals who have exemptions that apply to qualify for such.
HNWI are defined as people whose net income – their earnings after tax and national insurance – is more than £150,000 a year or who have net assets of more than £500,000 excluding their primary residence, redundancy payments or retirement benefits such as pensions.
‘If sold in the right circumstances – such as to those who keep their cars over the full period of the finance term allowing them to benefit from cheaper borrowing – then unregulated finance can be suitable,’ Mr Lloyd added.
‘However it’s those lenders that only offer unregulated products where the key problem exists.
‘There is a role for unregulated agreements but people need to be able to make informed decisions.
‘The key is being clear on your plans for the car and choosing the most appropriate option.
‘This is one of the key reasons we like to understand a client’s full requirements from the start and ensure they have the most suitable product from our panel of lenders.’
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