What Should Your Average Car Payment Be?

By Julia Califano · October 03, 2023 · 6 minute read

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What Should Your Average Car Payment Be?

Car payments can take a significant bite out of your monthly budget. According to Edmunds, the average monthly car payment in the second quarter of 2023 was $733 for a new vehicle and $569 for a used vehicle.

While knowing the average car payment can be helpful, keep in mind that the actual amount you’ll pay on a car loan will depend on multiple factors, including the loan amount, interest rate, type of car you buy, your credit score, and the length of the loan.

So how do you know if you’re getting (or you got) a good deal? Read on to learn more about average car payments and what to do if you’re paying too much — or more than you can currently afford.

Key Points

•   The average monthly car payment in the second quarter of 2023 was $733 for new vehicles and $569 for used ones.

•   Car loan amounts, interest rates, and the borrower’s credit score significantly influence monthly payments.

•   The average APR for auto loans was 7.1% for new cars and 11% for used cars during the same period.

•   Refinancing a car loan can potentially lower monthly payments by securing a lower APR or extending the loan term.

•   Using a personal loan to refinance an auto loan is an option, especially if it offers a lower rate than the existing auto loan.

What Is a Good APR on a Car?

Every auto loan has an annual percentage rate (APR), which is the annual cost you’re charged by the lender for borrowing money. A loan’s APR includes the loan’s base interest rate plus any added fees, so it represents the true cost of the loan.

In the second quarter of 2023, the overall average auto loan APR was 7.1% for new cars and 11% for used cars.

The actual APR you receive for an auto loan will be based on several factors, including your income, credit history, and credit score. Typically, your credit score will have the greatest influence over the rate you’ll get, since lenders use it to gauge how likely you are to repay the loan. Generally speaking, the higher your credit score, the lower your car loan APR will be.

For example, the average APR for someone with a credit score between 781 to 850 is 5.18%, whereas the average rate for someone with a credit score between 300 and 500 is 14.08%

💡 Quick Tip: A low-interest personal loan can consolidate your debts, lower your monthly payments, and help you get out of debt sooner.

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What to Do if Your Car Payments Are Too High?

If you’re paying more than the average car loan payment, or simply more than you can comfortably afford, here are some ways you may be able to lower your payment.

•   Refinancing When you refinance a car loan, you replace your current loan with a new one and hopefully lower your car payment in the process. You may be able to qualify for a lower APR on a new loan and/or extend your loan term, which can lead to a lower monthly payment. Keep in mind, though, that if you extend your loan term, you may end up paying more in total interest over the life of the loan.

•   Selling or trading in your car If your car is beyond your budget, you might consider selling it and then buying a cheaper car. Trading it in at a dealership can be the simplest option, though you might get a better price with a private sale. Just keep in mind that selling a car that has a loan attached to it can be complicated. You‘ll want to check with your lender to make sure you aren’t breaking any terms of your loan contract.

•   Making extra payments whenever you can Consider putting the occasional windfall (such as a tax refund, bonus at work, or cash gift) toward your loan principal. This will reduce the total amount that you owe, which, in turn, can lower your monthly payments. Before you try this tactic, however, make sure your lender will apply extra payments directly to your loan’s principal and not to interest.

Recommended: Smarter Ways to Get a Car Loan

What if Your Car Payment is Lower Than Average?

If your car payment is lower than the average, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t benefit from refinancing. This is especially true. If your credit has improved or rates have dropped since you originally took out your car loan.

You might also be able to lower your monthly car payments if you initially received your loan from the dealer. APRs offered by car dealers tend to be higher than those offered by banks and credit unions. If you took out your initial loan through dealer-arranged financing, refinancing with a different lender could potentially get you a lower rate, and a lower monthly payment.

If your budget is stretched and you really need to lower your payments, refinancing to a longer repayment term can help lower your payments, even if you don’t get a lower interest rate. Just be aware that you’ll pay more in total interest because you are extending the length of the loan.

💡 Quick Tip: Just as there are no free lunches, there are no guaranteed loans. So beware lenders who advertise them. If they are legitimate, they need to know your creditworthiness before offering you a loan.

Using a Personal Loan to Refinance an Auto Loan

Many people assume that the only way to refinance an auto loan is with another auto loan. But that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, taking out a personal loan can be an option worth considering, particularly if you have excellent credit and can qualify for low APRs.

Personal loans are available through banks, credit unions, and online lenders and can be used for virtually any use, including debt consolidation, home repairs, and other large purchases. This makes it different from an auto loan, which can only be used to pay for a car.

If your auto loan rate is higher than the rate you can receive on a personal loan, using a personal loan to refinance your auto loan may be a way to lower your car payments.

Another reason you might refinance with an unsecured personal loan is that these loans don’t require that you use your car as collateral. That means if you’re unable to make your payments, you won’t lose your vehicle (though your credit score will likely take a significant hit).

Also, if you plan to sell your car, it can be complicated to sell a car with an auto loan attached. If you use a personal loan to pay off your car, you’ll receive the title from your auto lender, which enables you to sell it more easily.

For a personal loan to make sense for an auto loan refinance, however, you’ll need to qualify for a low rate. Just like you shopped around for an auto loan, it’s a good idea to compare personal loan rates, terms, fees and borrowing limits to ensure you find a lender that will best fit your needs.

As you compare lenders, consider a SoFi Personal Loan. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

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Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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