Tag Archives: MSN Money

Auto Loan vs. Cash: When a Loan is the Better Choice

Last Friday, guest blogger Lance from “Budgets are Sexy” was featured on MSN Money and stirred up some controversy with the headline “Why a car loan can beat paying cash.” As expected, many cash-only advocates got very upset and all but called for the authors head to be served on a silver platter to Dave Ramsey. We wanted to take a quick look at why he took out a car loan instead of paying cash and then open it up to our readers for feedback.

First, he wanted to get an installment loan on his credit history. At this point, he had several credit cards which he paid off regularly and on-time, and he did not take out any student loans in college. With such a sparse credit history, he thought that an auto loan that was paid on time would make a good addition to his credit report.

Second, he got a 0.9 percent interest rate for 36 months. Some readers didn’t know why he would pay any interest rate on a purchase he could afford to pay with cash, but considering that the interest he was earning on his savings account covered the additional interest on the car loan, it was a smart choice. Under these circumstances, he built up his credit history, and it didn’t cost him anything extra.

Finally, he appreciated not depleting his funds to pay for the car outright. By taking out the loan, he could still maintain his emergency fund in case of job loss or medical emergency. Most personal finance experts recommend keeping an emergency fund with enough money to live on for six to eight months, and thanks to the loan, he could keep his six-month emergency fund.

What do you think about his decision? If you could pay for a car in cash, would you choose to take out a loan? Leave us a comment below, and tell us what you think!

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