Finance Jargon Buster

Car finance jargon

Do you know what a balloon payment is? How is the GMFV calculated?
Make sure you know what you are signing up to!
Don’t get a loan without understanding the car finance jargon.

Administration fee

Also known as the Documentation Fee, this is the charge for arranging the car finance, the cost of this fee is allowed for in the APR (Annual Percentage Rate).

Agreement term

This is the period over which you agree to repay the loan.

(APR) Annual Percentage Rate

The APR is the cost to you of borrowing the finance and will include the finance agreement interest rate charges and administration fees. The APR is the best way to compare the cost of car loans.

Annual mileage

Most finance agreements, such as a Personal Contract Purchase or Personal Contract Hire, require you to estimate your annual mileage at the beginning of the contract, this is part of the information that goes to make up the (Guaranteed Minimum Future Value), the value of the car at the end of the contract. If you under-estimate your mileage you will have to pay for the excess miles at the end of the agreement.

Bad credit history

When you apply for a loan or car finance the Lender will usually want to check your credit history with a credit reference agency, this will tell them how you have performed in the past and indicate how likely you are to make the repayments.

If your credit history is good and you do not have any defaults or CCJ’s against your name you will probably get the loan, but a poor credit score will affect the chance of you receiving credit. Your credit score is something to actively protect for the future and can be checked with a credit reference agency such as Experian.

Balance financed

You may have a cash deposit towards your new car or maybe you are going to part exchange your existing car; the balance financed is the actual amount you end up borrowing for your next car purchase.

Balloon payment or (GMFV)

A balloon payment also known as the (Guaranteed Minimum Future Value) is the sum that is deferred until the end of some car finance agreements, for instance on Personal Contract Purchase and Personal Contract Hire contracts. Deferring the payment means you will make lower monthly repayments for the duration of the contract, at the end of the agreement you will have the option to pay a balloon payment to buy the car outright.

Conditional Sale

A Conditional Sale is a finance agreement which providing you have paid in full and met the terms of the agreement, the the car will automatically belong to you. Similar to an HP agreement except with the HP an “Option to Purchase” fee has to be paid before ownership of the car transfers to you.

Credit agreement

This is the legally-binding contract containing the details of the finance agreement between the finance company and you, the borrower. The credit agreement includes the terms including the amount borrowed, period of the loan and the fixed APR, as well as your rights and responsibilities.

Credit rating

The scoring system used by the finance companies to determine your credit history when making a decision on a car loan application.


Deposit contribution.

As part of a promotional or marketing campaign some car dealers will often be prepared to make a contribution towards the minimum deposit payment required under a finance agreement.


Depreciation is the amount a car will devalue over a period of time.

Documentation fee

Otherwise known as the Administration fee, this is the charge you will need to pay for the setting up of the finance contract and the issue of documentation. This fee is included as part of the cost when the APR is calculated.

Early settlement

If you want to repay a loan or finance agreement before the end of the contract, you will need to request, from the Lender, an “early settlement” figure. By paying the finance company early you may save on the interest that would have been charged for the remainder of the agreement.


The difference between the amount of the loan remaining and the agreed market value of the car is the “Equity”. When the market value is higher than the outstanding finance the customer has equity in the car, but if the value is less than what is still owed you will have “negative-equity”.

Final payment

This is the final payment under finance contracts; with a Hire Purchase agreement it is known as the (option to purchase fee) whilst with a Personal Contract Purchase it is called the (the balloon payment).

Fixed rate

This means the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) that will remain fixed for the length of the contract.

Flat rate

Car dealers will often quote a flat rate of interest (on a monthly or annual basis); this is the base interest rate charged on the finance and does not include other charges like admin fees. To compare finance deals on a like for like basis you should always request the APR and not the flat rate.

GAP insurance (Guaranteed Asset Protection)

Your insurance company will only pay out the current market value if your car is in an accident.

So you have a car finance credit agreement it can be wise to obtain GAP insurance, it can help to cover the difference between the market value (paid out by your insurer) and the amount you have outstanding on your car finance (Finance GAP), or the original purchase price of your car (Return to Invoice GAP).

Gross income

Your income before deducting tax and National Insurance is your gross income. You may be asked for your this when applying for finance.

Guaranteed Minimum Future Value

The GMFV occurs in agreements such as a Personal Contract Purchase where the cost of a percentage of the car is deferred until the end of the agreement. The future value of the car is assessed, by the Lender, at the beginning of the contract and this is known as the Guaranteed Minimum Future Value. (See also Balloon Payment). The GMFV is based on a number of factors including the estimated annual mileage you will drive and the length of the agreement.

Hire Purchase

With Hire purchase (HP) you normally pay a deposit followed by monthly repayments over an agreed term. You are the ‘registered keeper’ of the car, but not the owner, that remains with the finance company until the final payment and any option fee to purchase have been made.


A legal requirement in the UK for drivers, any finance agreement will insist your car has comprehensive cover at all times.

Interest rate

The amount you are charged to borrow money on a finance agreement is known as the interest rate. The level of interest you pay can be determined by your credit rating. (See also APR).

Lease Purchase

A Lease Purchase is a form of Hire Purchase agreement. An amount of the car’s value is deferred until the end of agreement, this sum is calculated by the projected mileage and age of the car.

Monthly rentals

Under some car finance such as, a lease, the repayments are referred to Monthly Rentals, instead; this is because generally when you do not have an option to own the car, you will always be renting until the end of the contract.

Net income

This is your income after the deduction of income tax and national insurance.

Option to purchase fee

Occurs on some car finance contracts such as an HP agreement, it is a voluntary final payment that when paid will transfer the ownership of the car from the Lender to the customer.


When you buy another car and you trade in your existing car towards the cost of the new cars value, this is a part exchange.

Personal Contract Purchase

A Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) is similar to an HP except, instead of paying off the total value of the car, you only pay the amount the car will depreciate followed by an optional balloon payment (the GMFV) This final amount, the future value of the car, is based on age and estimated mileage.

Monthly repayments for a PCP agreement are lower than for a comparable HP agreement because of the deferred future value. With this form of contract, the GMFV payment of the car is optional, to buy the car outright you have to pay this but you could just hand the keys back and walk away.



A quotation will give you the costs of a finance agreement, and asking for a quotation does not commit you to going ahead nor will it leave a trail on your credit rating.
By law the quotation must include any deposit required, monthly repayments, APR Annual Percentage Rate, any balloon payment, all other charges and the total amount payable.

Residual value

The value of the car at the end of the finance agreement is the residual value; the finance company may or may not guarantee this value subject to the terms of your contract. The residual value is calculated by the anticipated future resell value of the car based on such things as the estimated mileage and age of the car at the end of your agreement.

Secured loan

Most car finance deals are secured against the car; this means less financial risk to the lender because in the event of repayment problems with the borrower, the car can be taken back by the Lender. The advantage to the borrower of the Lender having the car secured on the loan is that this allows them to be more flexible with the terms and conditions they can offer you.

Secondary rental

A secondary rental is when you lease a car and at the end of the agreement you decide you want to continue to keep renting the car. You can usually arrange a second agreement for the same car; as an annual rental or monthly repayments and this is often called a secondary rental.


The length of the agreement you signed up for to finance your car.

Trade value

The amount the car is worth when bought by a car dealer or sold at auction. Most non-prime finance companies will only lend up to a maximum of a car’s trade value.

Unsecured loan

With car finance the loan is normally secured against the car or an asset. With an unsecured loan there is no security which means the risk to the lender is greater and so the cost of the loan will be higher than with a secured loan.


Every car has a unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) that remains with the car for its lifetime, the VIN is used to track the cars identity and prevent fraud.


Car manufacturers provide a warranty on new cars, usually for 3 years, to cover unexpected mechanical problems; warranties are also available for used cars.

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