1. Home
  2. Knowledge Base
  3. Leasing
  4. Car loan balloon payments & residual values explained

One of the most important decisions your are faced with when selecting a car loan is whether you wish to have a Residual Value or “Balloon Payment” on the loan, and, if so, how large you want it to be.
Having a residual value/Balloon payment will affect the amount of your regular monthly repayments, as well as how much you owe at the end of the loan period. These are also known as RV, Residual Payment, or Balloon.

Residual Value/Balloon Payment

At the end of a loan, when all repayments have been made, the lump sum still owed to the financier is called a residual value, or Balloon payment. These allow you as a borrower to repay part of the initial loan over the term, which will reduce the monthly repayments but mean you will owe the financier a lump sum at the end of your loan term. This value may be represented as an absolute dollar amount, or a percentage of the borrowed amount.

For example: A new car buyer borrows $40,000 over 5 years and elects to have a $10,000 (25%) Residual Value/Balloon Payment on their loan. Monthly repayments will be lower than if they elected not to have a residual/balloon payment, but will owe the financier a lump sum of $10,000 at the conclusion of the five year loan.

With the exception of leases, having a Residual/Balloon Payment on a car loan is optional.
Benefits of Balloon Payments 
The main benefit of initiating a residual value/balloon payment is reducing the size of your regular monthly repayments throughout the term of your car loan. This can increase the affordability of a loan, the maximum loan size you qualify for, as well as helping you with cash flow management and more closely matching the repayment of the car loan's principal with the vehicle's value over time. If you do elect to add a residual value, it must be made as a single payment at the end of the term of the car loan.

There are usually a few options available to you when your Residual Value/Balloon Payment on a loan is due. These include:

  1. Paying your Residual Value/Balloon Payment to finalise your loan. This ensures you will keep your current vehicle, and can be made as a cash payment or, if approved, by refinancing your Residual Value/Balloon Payment into a new loan. This essentially continues your current loan to cover the final cost.
  2. Selling your current vehicle to pay the Residual Value/Balloon Payment and finalise your loan, which can be useful if you wish to change cars. You can then buy a replacement vehicle and apply for a new loan, if needed, to fund the purchase. If you wish to trade in your current vehicle as part of purchasing your replacement vehicle, the payment of the Residual Value/Balloon Payment on the current car loan can generally be accounted for in the changeover process, which will simplify the process for you.

Leases will have different minimum and maximum Residual Value/Balloon Payment guidelines to other car finance options. These guidelines can be found below.


The Australian Tax Office (ATO) enforces a set of minimum Residual Value/Balloon Payment guidelines to be followed for all leases (including Finance Lease, Novated Lease, Personal Lease and Fully Maintained Novated Lease). The ATO minimums are set out in the table below.


Table 1: ATO minimum residual guidelines for leases
 Lease contract term   Minimum Residual Value/Balloon Payment 
 12 months        65.63%                           
 24 months  56.25%
 36 months  46.88%
 48 months  37.50%
 60 months  28.13%

The maximum Residual Value/Balloon Payment available for a lease will fluctuate depending on a variety of factors specific to each finance company. These can include the term of the lease and what type of lease it is,  the age of the vehicle, the borrower's financial profile and more.
Other types of car finance
Other types of car finance – including Consumer Car Loan, Hire Purchase, Chattel Mortgage and Personal Loan – will have no minimum Residual value/Balloon Payment guidelines. Rather, adding a Residual Value/Balloon Payment to these loans is entirely optional.
The maximum Residual Value/Balloon Payment available for other kinds of leases will still vary, as they do with the above leases.
Vehicle value at the end of the lease

When deciding on using a Residual Value/Balloon Payment, there is a range of factors to take into consideration. One of the most important is the expected value of your vehicle at the end of the loan term.

Ideally, you want your Residual Value/Balloon Payment to be less than, or at least equal to, the value of the vehicle when it falls due. This will mean changing vehicles at the end of your loan will leave you with a balance of zero from which to start a new loan, or even a small deposit to put towards the next vehicle you buy.
The key to determining the resale value of your car is kilometres travelled. If you think you’ll travel more than the average driver’s 15,000 – 20,000 kilometres a year, you may need to adjust the expected resale value and in turn the Residual Value/Balloon payment of your loan. Conversely, if you expect to travel less than the average driver, your car may retain a greater percentage of its original value.
Regardless of how your Residual Value/Balloon Payment compares with the vehicle's value at the conclusion of your loan term, remember that the Residual Value/Balloon Payment can usually be refinanced (subject to approval) at the end of the original loan contract if you wish to retain the vehicle.

Talk to your finance consultant to help you find the right balance between the value of your monthly repayments and your end of term obligations.

At Naritas, we have access to a comprehensive range of lenders, and some of the most adaptable finance products on the market. Our expert Credit Advisers look at your individual financial position and help find the right option to suit your requirements.

For help choosing the right Residual Value/Balloon Payment for you in the current market, while taking into account your future vehicle needs, contact us on our live chat or call us on 1300 558 887.

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles