Saving money for a car

Saving for a bigger deposit can cut the cost of your next car by hundreds of pounds.

Why save?

Saving up a deposit can knock hundreds off the cost of your car. For example, borrowing the full cost of a £7,000 car could mean repayments of £265 a month, bringing the total price to £9,500. By saving up a £2,000 deposit, you borrow less, cutting the repayments to £190 a month, and the total cost to £8,800. That’s a saving of £700.

Step 1 – Weigh up your options

There are lots of ways to pay for a car: take out the dealer’s own finance, get a loan from a bank or building society, opt for a personal credit plan or hire purchase, or even lease a car instead of buying.

But, whether you take out the car dealer’s finance or get a loan from elsewhere, putting down a bigger deposit can slash the cost of your car. And some deals, such as 0% finance, are only available if you have a large deposit.

The chart shows the total you’d pay back for each £1,000 you borrow, depending on the interest rate you’re charged and for how long you borrow.

What you pay back when you borrow £1,000

*Annual percentage rate (APR) – always compare APRs as they take into account any fees as well as the interest.

For example, even if you could borrow at an interest rate of 7% a year, for each £1,000 you borrow over three years, you’d have to pay back £1,108. So saving up an extra £1,000 towards the deposit would knock £108 off the cost of the car.

If you had to pay a much higher interest rate of 19% a year, each £1,000 you can put down as a deposit would save you £292 if you borrowed for three years and £508 if you borrowed for five years.

How much you personally save on the cost of your next car depends on the interest you’re charged. The higher the rate, the bigger your payback from saving for a deposit.

Step 2 – Work out how much to save each month

You’re probably still making monthly repayments on your current car and thinking: how can I afford to save as well? But starting to save even a small amount now means you’ll be able to borrow a bit less next time, which will cut the repayments on your next car and then you’ll be able to afford to save a bit more, and so on. Before you know it, you could be a cash buyer with no repayments at all!

How much deposit you aim for depends on the car you’ve set your heart on. But be realistic – if you set your savings target too high, there’s a danger you’ll give up. It’s best to set your target at an amount you feel comfortable saving each month and you can always top this up whenever you can afford a bit more.

If you decide on £50 a month, use our Savings calculator to explore how long it will take you to build up the deposit you want.

Read our guide What if you can’t afford to save?

Step 3 – Get started

Top tip

Set up a regular payment (direct debit or standing order) to automatically transfer a set amount into your savings each month.

Get this show on the road! You’ll want to earmark these savings especially for your car. Maybe you already have an online bank account that lets you set up separate pots for different goals. Otherwise, open a separate savings account.

You could opt for an instant access account. But, if you are looking to buy in a year or two’s time, you could also look at accounts that tie up your money but offer better interest – see our guides:

Price comparison websites

Comparison websites are a good starting point for anyone trying to find a savings account tailored to their needs.

We recommend the following websites for comparing savings accounts:


  • Comparison websites won’t all give you the same results, so make sure you use more than one site before making a decision.
  • It is also important to do some research into the type of product and features you need before making a purchase or changing supplier.
  • Find out more in our guide to comparison sites.

Step 4 – Watch your savings grow

Check your progress regularly – say, every six months. Remember, every £100 in your account could be £10, £20, £50 or more off the total cost of your next car.

Review your savings account at least once a year to check you are getting the best rate of interest. Make sure you use your yearly cash ISA allowance so that you don’t pay tax unnecessarily. Many ISAs tempt you with a bonus for the first few months or year but then fall back to dismal rates.

What to do next

  • Open a savings account if you don’t already have one – go online or pop into your bank or building society.
  • Set up a regular payment into your savings account every month. Use this downloadable template (DOC 26KB) to send a standing order instruction to your bank.

Your top tips for buying and running a car

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