What is hire purchase?
Hire purchase (HP) has been a popular form of car leasing and way to finance buying a new car for decades. When you choose hire purchase, you have to arrange the agreement through the dealer or a separate broker. Some brokers can do parts of the process online, but most of it is still done in person - and with lots of tedious paperwork.
The repayment term can be anywhere from one to five years. During that time, the vehicle is legally owned by the finance company; it’s not actually yours until you make your last payment.
So if you’re a few months into the contract and find that the car isn’t working for you, or you wish you’d gone for the one with the sunroof, you won’t be able to sell your current car or exchange it for a different model.
And if you want to end the contract early, you’ll have to pay a penalty fee. This can be a pretty big lump sum - especially if you haven’t put much down yet.
What is the difference between personal contract purchase (PCP) and hire purchase?
Navigating the different types of traditional leasing can be confusing.
PCP is essentially a way to lease a car with the option of ownership at the end of the lease. With a PCP lease agreement, you may make lower monthly payments than you would on hire purchase, but you’ll have a larger final ‘balloon payment’ to make to take full ownership.
With hire purchase, you’re making payments toward owning a car. Basically, you borrow the money plus interest to buy the car, then make monthly repayments until you have paid off the full value. Once you’ve made the final payment, which is usually much lower than the ‘balloon payment’ for PCP, you own the car outright.
Hire purchase payments are calculated as the total amount borrowed divided by the number of the months in the lease term, for equal monthly payments over the three- or four-year lease term.
How does hire purchase work?
When you buy a car on hire purchase, it usually involves:
- A complicated agreement with the financing company and lots of paperwork to fill out.
- An initial non-refundable deposit - 10% or more of the car’s value.
- A long repayment term - at least one year but up to four or five years.
- No extras included - insurance, maintenance, charging, and eventually selling the vehicle will have to be sorted by you.