DEFINITION of 'Car Title Loan'

A short-term loan in which the borrower's car title is used as collateral. The borrower must be the lien holder (i.e. own the car outright). Loans are usually for less than 30 days. If the loan is not repaid, the lender can take ownership of the car and sell it to recoup the loan amount.

These loans are also known as "auto title loans" or just "title loans".

BREAKING DOWN 'Car Title Loan'

Car title loan lenders often target those with low incomes and bad credit and charge high interest rates; those with access to credit cards or bank loans would not be the target customers. Car title or auto title lenders are sometimes called "predatory lenders" because of the way in which they prey on those who need cash in emergency situations.

Although lenders must state the interest rate at the time the loan is made, if it is a short-term loan, the borrower may not realize that the quoted rate is not annualized. For example, if a one-month loan rate is advertised at 25%, that annualized rate is actually 300%.

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