Musical instruments can be very expensive. There’s no denying that. Connolly Music reported that the average cost of a mid-ranged, brand new violin cast is around $900. More expensive models can range up to $2,500. Since you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you’re desperate to own an instrument, but you don’t have the money or credit to afford it. You’re probably searching for someone who gives loans for musical instruments with no credit.
For people with no credit or bad credit, getting a loan for any type of purchase can be a challenge. Traditional lenders who demand at least fair credit scores may be well beyond your reach. Payday and “no credit” loans are never a good idea. The good news is that there are still some great lending options, and some options that don’t require a loan at all, you can take advantage of.
Pawn Shop Loans
Whether you knew it or not, some pawnshops actually offer direct loans to people, often without checking credit. These loans can usually get you a healthy amount of money to use towards purchasing an instrument. Not only that, but you stand to save some serious money by using a pawn shop to find an instrument.
However, there are some reservations you need to be aware of.
How Does a Pawn Shop Loan Work?
To receive a pawn shop loan, you first bring in an item to use as collateral. The pawn shop will assess the value of your item, and then offer you a loan against a percentage of the item’s perceived value. According to Nolo.com, pawn shops will usually offer a loan between 25 to 60% of an item’s value.
For example, if the pawnshop assesses your gold ring at $1,000, they might extend you a loan between $250 and $600. If you agree to the loan, you’re given a ticket for the item you gave the shop. When your loan is repaid, you return the ticket in exchange for your collateral.
Are There Any Risks?
While pawn shop loans are slightly better than a payday loan, they’re still a big risk. Typically, pawn shop loans carry around 200% APR. In the example above, a $250 loan would cost you $875 in total. The only upside is that a pawn shop loan typically gives you between 30 and 60 days to repay the loan. Most payday loans only offer between two to four weeks.
Additionally, if you default on your loan, the collateral becomes the property of the pawn shop. They can then sell the item to pay off your debt.
All in all, a pawn shop loan is too risky, and too expensive, for me to recommend.
Could I Save Money by Buying a Pawned Instrument?
According to The Balance, pawn shops offer items for 30% to 50% less than you typically find in retail stores. Obviously, these are mostly used items so they’re not as good as a brand new item. But reputable pawn shops won’t accept broken or defective items, so you can be fairly certain that a pawned item will work as advertised.
The drawback here is that a used, mild quality instrument (which are the most common in pawn shops) sound nowhere near as good as a new, high-quality instrument. That could result in your sound quality being too low to get good practice out of your instrument.
Just like with any other used item, inspect it carefully and ask to try it out. If it doesn’t work as intended, don’t buy it. If the pawn shop owner refuses to let you test it, don’t buy it.
Rent-to-Own Music Shops
While not technically a loan, many shops specialize in renting musical instruments for people to eventually own. With a rent-to-own plan, you make a monthly payment on the instrument for a minimum amount of time, usually three to six months. After that time, you can either return the instrument or continue to pay until you’ve paid off the full amount.
The Benefits of Rent to Own
With a rent-to-own instrument, you can save a lot of money. Most loans require that you pay interest and additional fees. With rent-to-own, there are no interest rates to worry about, and other fees like damage insurance and the like are optional. Typically, the rental price is very fair. While the price varies between stores, average rental costs are:
- Trumpet – $19.95 per month
- Clarinet – $19.95 per month
- Saxophone – $45 per month
- Viola/Violin – $24.95 per month
The other key advantage of rent-to-own is that you can test different instruments before you buy them. You may ultimately decide that instrument isn’t really what you want to play. If you’ve spent three months with a trumpet and don’t like it, take it back and try out a saxophone.
The Drawbacks of Rent to Own
Even with a monthly payment setup, some instruments are still expensive to rent. A full drum set averages around $204 a month. Many rental shops also don’t rent out larger instruments, like pianos and cellos. This means that you may have a difficult time finding a shop with the instrument you want near your home.
Additionally, some rent-to-own shops do require a credit check. There are many that don’t, but there may not be one near where you live.
Bad Credit Lenders
So here’s an interesting fact – you may think you have no credit, but you do. Every single person has a credit history, even if they don’t have a credit score. Experian explains that a certain amount of data (transactions, payments, etc.) within a recent period of time is necessary before the credit bureaus can calculate a score. If you don’t have a score, this could mean that you don’t have enough credit, or haven’t used it enough, to generate a score. But you still maintain a credit history.
With that being the case, you could still qualify for a good loan to buy an instrument, even if you think you have no credit. With a little work, you may be able to generate a score and access more lending options. What you need to do is pull your free credit report from each of the three major bureaus and study them carefully. Typically, these will illustrate problem areas that you can address. You can use the results to discover solutions to generate credit.
How Can I Build my Credit to Afford an Instrument Loan?
This is somewhat of a Catch-22 because you need credit to build a better credit history, but you can’t access credit without a solid history. I would suggest that you try the following steps:
- Make more purchases on your credit card but keep your purchases to 30% or less of your card limit.
- See what payments are being reported on your credit report. Contact the ones that aren’t (such as your utility company, cell phone company, and internet provider) and see if they’ll report your payments.
- Ask someone you trust to authorize you on their credit card. You can then use their credit history as your own.
While it won’t improve overnight, any of these options will slowly start to build your credit history. Your score doesn’t have to be perfect – even a score as low as 450 can qualify you for some great bad credit loans. It can take as little as four to six months to generate a score, meaning you can buy the instrument you crave faster, and choose whatever instrument you love the most!