Can You Buy a Car With a Learner’s Permit?
You might be able to purchase a car with only a learner’s permit, but you won’t be able to register it until you get a full license.
It’s illegal to drive an unregistered car. Plus, most companies won’t directly sell car insurance to someone with a learner’s permit.
If you’re looking to buy a car with a learner’s permit, the car insurance shopping and broker app Jerry has compiled a few things to keep in mind.
- Learner’s permits and car buying
- Car insurance and registration limitations
- How to get car insurance
- Registering a vehicle
- How to buy a car
- Cheap car insurance
Can I buy a car with a learner’s permit?
Yes, you can technically buy a car with any kind of license, but only fully-licensed drivers can register a car and take out their own insurance policy.
If you’re in a rush to buy a car, get a fully licensed driver (like a parent) to be the legal owner until you’re ready to transfer the title.
There are several types of restricted driver’s licenses, depending on your state. This strategy allows young drivers to get experience on the road in a graduated process before becoming fully licensed drivers.
The three license stages most teenagers go through are:
Learner’s permit: The first permit a teenager receives, which usually requires them to drive with supervision.
Intermediate license: A permit which allows young drivers to drive without supervision but typically forbids driving at night and transporting minors.
Full driver’s license: An unrestricted license without any limitations on driving hours or passengers.
If your license status still requires driver training, logging practice hours, or if you are restricted to driving family members during daylight hours, you may not be able to register a car just yet.
Car insurance and registration limitations
If you have cash or good credit, you will be able to buy a car with only a permit. However, being a car owner is about far more than ownership.
You will need to register the vehicle, pay for maintenance costs, and purchase insurance (try using Jerry to find good rates for young drivers).
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You can’t register a vehicle in your own name until you possess a full, unrestricted license. It is a legal requirement to provide proof of auto insurance and financial responsibility before you’re allowed to register a vehicle.
Some dealers won’t even let you drive the car off the lot without proof of insurance.
Usually, you cannot obtain your own insurance policy until you are a fully licensed driver. Even then, it might be better to stay under your parents’ policy for as long as possible. This could mean discounts and additional protection for you and your vehicle.
How to get car insurance with a permit
If you hold a learner’s permit, it can be tricky to get a separate policy just for your new vehicle. Instead, you should plan to name a primary driver, who is fully licensed.
This person will be the main policyholder. They can list you on the policy and the vehicle will be titled in their name until you get your full license.
Finding cheap car insurance can be a challenge, especially for young drivers. Young people often pay hundreds of dollars more per year than older drivers.
That’s why it’s usually wiser to stay on the family policy if possible. Young drivers with a learner’s permit can easily be added to a family policy. They can even trigger additional discounts for being good students, even without a full license.
If you’re a young driver, try to get coverage under your family’s car insurance policy so you aren’t stuck with sky-high young driver premiums.
How to register a vehicle
If you do buy a car, you can’t drive it until it’s registered. No exceptions!
You cannot register a vehicle yourself if you only have a permit.
But here’s what you can do. If you need to drive the car immediately, go to the DMV with the necessary paperwork and bring along a parent to be listed as the primary driver. Once you have the license plate and registration to make it legal, the vehicle can now be driven.
How to buy a car with a permit
You will need good credit to buy a vehicle. Young drivers don’t often have a strong credit history, so this could be a stumbling block for you.
You might be limited to working with lenders that specialize in people with poor or no credit, which could result in high interest rates.
Proof of income is generally required when applying for a car loan, which shows that you can make regular monthly payments. If you don’t have two years of stable employment history, you may need a co-signer.
Our best advice—for young drivers and their parents—is to take your time and shop around to find the best interest rates.
Finding cheap car insurance
Even if a parent is a primary signer, adding young drivers to a policy could make insurance premiums go up.
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