How much can I afford to borrow for a car loan?

Get a car loan that works for you by finding out your borrowing limits.

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Your borrowing power is how much money you’re able to borrow without putting too much pressure on your finances. This guide will take you through how to work out your own borrowing power and how lenders determine your borrowing limits when you apply.

Why is it important to understand your borrowing power?

When you apply for a type of credit such as a car loan this will be listed on your credit report. It will be listed whether it was approved or not. If there are several enquiries for credit on your credit report it can be a red flag to lenders and can stop you from being approved for loans.

Understanding your borrowing power can help you limit the number of applications and enquiries you need to make as you’re only applying for loans that you can afford. It's important to compare a lot of different offers but you don’t want to apply for too many different loans. You also don’t want your credit history damaged by any rejections you receive.

Calculate your car loan borrowing power

You can use the calculator below to get an idea of your borrowing power.

How do lenders determine your borrowing power?

Most lenders use a formula called the Household Expenditure Method (HEM) to determine your borrowing power. This is the closest thing to a one-size-fits-all approach to calculating these factors. It involves dividing all household expenses into one of three groups: the essential (food, utilities, etc), the discretionary (entertainment, childcare, restaurants) and the luxury (vacations, household staff). The HEM is determined by looking at the median spending on essentials by Australian households, and the 25th percentile spending on discretionaries.

These two values are added together to get the HEM, a number that changes and is updated each year. The number is adjusted in a particular way depending on your location, whether you’re part of a single or partner household and whether there are any children.

  • The lender will ask you what your monthly expenditure is, and then look at the HEM. The higher of the two sums is used as your monthly expenditure when determining your borrowing power.
  • The HEM is based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics spending data. It is regularly updated based on the more recent information.

Not all lenders use the HEM. Some have their own formulas or use similar alternatives like the older Henderson Poverty Index (HPI).

How to work out your monthly expenditures

You will generally be required to provide your monthly expenditures to your lender when you apply, despite them making their own calculations as well. For car loans, most lenders will typically want you to give them a single figure, but some might want a more detailed cost breakdown.

  • Consider how much you spend on essentials. This includes housing, food, utilities, transport and other things you can’t live without.
  • Factor in how much you tend to spend on discretionary costs and luxuries each month. Resist the urge to exclude these from your calculations. An ideal loan won’t require you to make significant lifestyle adjustments, although this isn’t always possible.
  • Remember to consider the cost of owning and maintaining a car. There are numerous one-off expenses as well as ongoing costs. These include vehicle registration, licensing, compulsory insurance, additional insurance, petrol, repair and maintenance costs and countless others. However, do not include these in your monthly expenditures unless you already have and are paying for a different car, because your lender will factor them in for you. Do bear this in mind, however, and leave yourself some financial leeway for the costs.

Compare your car loan options

Wisr Secured Car Loan

Wisr Secured Car Loan

From

5.19 % p.a.

fixed rate

From

6.08 % p.a.

comparison rate

  • Borrow up to $50,000
  • No monthly fees
  • No early repayment penalties
Security Logo

100% confidential application

Wisr Secured Car Loan

A Wisr car loan is a flexible loan that can be used to purchase new or used cars, as well as motorbikes, boats, caravans and other expenses.

  • Interest rate: 5.19% p.a.
  • Comparison rate: 6.08% p.a.
  • Interest rate type: Fixed
  • Application fee: $655
  • Minimum loan amount: $5,000
  • Maximum loan amount: $50,000
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Promoted
Updated January 30th, 2020
$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Service Fee Monthly Repayment
Wisr Secured Car Loan
From 5.19% (fixed)
6.08%
$5,000
3 to 7 years
$655 (Includes PPSR registration and private sale fee, if applicable)
$0
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.19% p.a. to 16.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $50,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.

Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From 4.69% (fixed)
5.64%
$10,000
3 to 7 years
$700 (for private seller vehicles this fee is $608)
$9
You'll receive a fixed or variable rate depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $100,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
IMB New Car Loan
5.45% (fixed)
5.8%
$2,000
1 to 7 years
$250
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.45% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.
RACV New Car Loans
From 5.69% (fixed)
6.39%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$499
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.69% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan
5.49% (fixed)
5.73%
$25,000
1 to 7 years
$175
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.49% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From 4.79% (fixed)
5.34%
$10,000
1 to 7 years
$400
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.79% p.a. with a comparison rate of 5.34% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.

Australian Military Bank Car Loan
From 5.71% (fixed)
6.57%
$1,000
1 to 7 years
$500 (from $100 to $500)
$10
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.71% p.a. and 8.66% p.a. based on your personal credit history
A flexible loan to help you finance a car, motorbike or boat up to five years old.
NRMA New Car Loan
From 5.69% (fixed)
6.39%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$499
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.69% p. a.
Purchase a new car with this loan and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
MyState Bank Secured Fixed Rate Personal Loan
From 5.99% (fixed)
6.63%
$10,000
1 to 10 years
$200
$5
You’ll receive a fixed rate of 5.99% p.a. ( 6.63% p.a. comparison rate ).
Apply for up to $75,000 available with asset security. Only good credit applicants can apply for this loan.
Westpac Car Loan
8.49% (fixed)
9.67%
$10,000
1 to 7 years
$250
$12
You'll receive a fixed rate of 8.49% p.a.
Finance a new or used car and benefit from convenient features for car buyers including a car search tool and the option to borrow extra for on-road costs.
St.George Secured Personal Loan - Fixed Rate
From 8.49% (fixed)
9.6%
$3,000
1 to 5 years
$195
$12
You'll receive a fixed rate from 8.49% p.a. based on the value of your car
Get a competitive rate and apply for a larger loan up to $80,000 when you attach a new or used car as security to the loan.
IMB Secured Personal Loan
6.45% (fixed)
6.8%
$2,000
1 to 5 years
$250
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.45% p.a.
Benefit from this competitive rate by securing the loan with a vehicle up to 6 years old. Use this flexible loan for any purpose.
NRMA Used Car Loan
From 6.99% (fixed)
7.7%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$499
$0
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.99% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.

Compare up to 4 providers

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Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for IMB New Car Loan
IMB New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.45% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.

Logo for Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.49% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.

Logo for RACV New Car Loans
RACV New Car Loans

You'll receive a fixed rate from 5.69% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.

Logo for Stratton Finance New Car Loan
Stratton Finance New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed or variable rate depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $100,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.

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