What’s the difference between a cosigned and a joint auto loan?

Pen on loan application papers

Q. What's the difference between a cosigned and a joint auto loan?

 

A. When you cosign for a loan, you're legally responsible for making the payments if the person taking out the loan defaults.

But a cosigner has no ownership rights to the vehicle. Your name is not on the title, and you can't seize it or demand any insurance payments if it's wrecked -- even if you are making the payments.

That makes cosigning a risky proposition.

 

A joint application allows you to apply for the loan as an equal owner of the vehicle.

While you're still responsible for the payments, your name is on the title. You have equal rights to the car's use and any insurance checks.

Bottom line: If you want to help someone buy a car, insist on a joint loan.