Can I get an instant decision on a car finance application?

When you apply to get a car finance quote, you can expect to receive a decision almost instantly. It can take just a few minutes to receive an approval in principle, based on the details supplied in your application form and a soft credit check. However, there are factors that can slow your approval down as well as steps that you can take to help it move faster.

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Yes, you may be eligible for instant decision car finance. When you get a quote for car finance, you’ll usually need to enter a few details into an online form. Prospective lenders will use these details to run a soft credit check – which won’t affect your credit score – and determine whether they might be able to offer you an approval in principle.

If you choose to continue with your application, the final decision won’t be completely instant, as the lender will need run a hard credit check and take your individual circumstances into account. The process can still move quickly, but it may take longer if additional details or paperwork is needed.

What is instant decision car finance?

Whether you’ve just found your dream car and can’t wait to hit the road or your old reliable has broken down unexpectedly, there are many reasons why you might want to find instant decision car finance. Typically, this means you won’t need to wait around to find out if your car finance application has been approved in principle.

When you request a car finance quote, potential lenders will consider several factors, including your credit score, income, and the amount you’d like to borrow. This means that, while the decision won’t be instantaneous, it could only take between 30 seconds and a couple of minutes to come through.

How does instant decision car finance work

It can all start with a quote. To find out if you’re eligible for car finance and receive your initial quote, you’ll typically need to complete an online form.

Different providers may request different information, but you should expect to enter a few personal details, information on your employment history and income, your current and past addresses, and how much you’d like to borrow to buy a car. Finance providers will use this information to conduct a soft credit check. This type of credit check won’t be visible on your credit report and won’t affect your score in any way.

No matter whether the lender approves your loan in principle or decides to reject your application, you’ll receive a notification. This entire process can be completed in a matter of minutes.

If you’ve been approved in principle through Ocean and are happy with the terms offered, you can choose to proceed. Your dedicated account manager from our trusted partner will then help you with all the paperwork, support you with your car search, and liaise with the lender on your behalf. A hard credit check will also be carried out at this stage. If everything goes through without incident, you can then sign your car finance agreement and pick up the vehicle’s keys!

Can I get guaranteed car finance?

In the UK, it’s against the law to claim to offer guaranteed car finance. While there are lenders that specialise in helping people with poor credit scores find a loan, each will have different eligibility criteria that must be met to qualify. Guaranteed car finance claims may be used to entice more vulnerable customers who are experiencing financial difficulties.

Ocean is a responsible broker and every lender that we work with takes different factors into account. While we’ll work hard to find the right loan for you, we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to help. It’s also important to remember that an approval in principle isn’t a definite yes. As each car loan is tailored to your individual circumstances and the vehicle you want to buy, the lender’s position may change depending on the documentation supplied and the car you choose.

How long does it take to get car finance?

The time it takes from completing an application form to signing your agreement depends on your individual circumstances. On average, it can take up to two days for an approved application to be finalised. However, you’ll need to provide additional paperwork and undergo a hard credit check as part of this process.

If you have bad credit, are receiving benefits, or are self-employed with an unpredictable income, it might take longer to get your car finance sorted, as a more thorough review will likely need to take place. Affordability is also a factor, as lenders need to be sure that you’ll be able to comfortably afford your car loan and it won’t put you in a difficult financial situation.

What checks are done for car finance?

Each lender may require different checks, but most car finance providers will conduct both a soft and hard credit check of your credit report. While the soft credit check won’t be visible to other lenders and shouldn’t affect your credit score, a hard check will be recorded on your credit report. Having too many hard searches on your report in a short period of time may decrease your chances of being approved for a loan, as it could indicate that you’re relying on credit. That’s why it’s important to use an eligibility checker to find out your chances of approval before you apply, and space out any credit applications.

An affordability check is also an important part of the process. Lenders will determine whether you can comfortably afford your loan repayments by looking at how much disposable income you have left over once you’ve paid all your essential bills. If you would have very little money left to live after making your monthly car finance repayment, you may be rejected on grounds of affordability.

You may also be asked to provide additional documentation to support your car finance application, including:

  • Proof of identity – such as a government-issued passport or driving licence
  • Proof of address – such as a recent utility bill
  • Proof of income – such as three months’ bank statements or payslips

How can I speed up the car finance process?

While every car finance journey works slightly differently, there are steps you can take to help the process move as smoothly and quickly as possible.

  • Prepare your documents – having your payslips, utility bills, and driving licence ready to share - and sending these across as soon as they’re requested - could help you obtain quick car finance.

  • Apply in working hours – while online sites allow you to apply for car finance 24 hours a day, applying in working hours means any checks can be carried out straightaway.

  • Check your eligibility – in the UK, you must be over 18 to take out a car finance loan. Lenders will often also ask for three years’ address history and a full UK driving licence. You could check the lender or car finance brokers’ website to find out if any other terms and conditions may apply before submitting your form.

  • Have a vehicle in mind – if you’ve already found your dream car and put down a deposit, you’ll be able to move much faster than if you’re still searching for the right model .

Can I get a quick loan for bad credit?

You can make an application for a quick loan for bad credit. However, it might take longer to receive a definite approval or rejection if you’ve had problems making payments in the past, have had a CCJ, or been subject to an IVA.

A bad credit score can indicate to lenders that you pose more of a risk as a borrower and so they may need time to make a considered decision. Be prepared to supply additional paperwork if requested. But don’t worry, your credit score is only one of the factors considered and there are lenders that specialise in providing car finance loans to people with poor credit.

Are no credit check car loans available?

A credit check will be required when applying for a car loan, but it won’t be the only factor considered by prospective lenders. We know that people face different circumstances in life and may have fallen behind with payments or needed to enter a debt management plan or IVA in the past.

If this sounds familiar to you, then it’s completely understandable that you might be hoping to find a no credit check car loan. However, credit checks are an important part of the process and help responsible lenders to ensure you receive a loan that’s affordable and suitable for your circumstances.

Checking your credit score regularly could give you extra peace of mind. There are several free services available, including CredAbility, which provides free access to your report so you can see exactly where you stand. 

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*Representative example: Borrowing £6,500 over 5 years with a representative APR of 19.9%, an annual interest rate of 19.9% (Fixed) and a deposit of £0.00, the amount payable would be £166.07 per month, with a total cost of credit of £3,464.37 and a total amount payable of £9,964.37. Rates may differ as they are dependent on individual circumstances. Subject to status. We're a credit broker, not a lender.

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.