Car Calc Pro for iPhone/iPad - All You Need for Car Loans

| In-Depth Review

Carcalc logoEvery once in awhile, one runs across an app that is perfectly designed and in tune with every possible need of the user. Then it becomes a joy to use and customers rave about it. Car Calc Pro, for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, designed to assist with car loan and lease calculations, does all that.

One doesn’t often encounter an app that gets five stars exclusively — not even a single 4 star rating. If you’re looking to get a loan, especially a car loan, this app will arm you with all the financial details before you sign a thing.

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Loan page

My wife and I are thinking about a new car, so, of course, I looked into a loan calculator. While I have the HP-12C app, I’ve forgotten how to enter the variables and extract the monthly payment. As an alternative, I hoped that I’d find an app that would be specific and transparent. I was pleasantly surprised when I found the Car Calc Pro app.

As you can see from the first screen shot above, the initial data entry couldn’t be more obvious or simple. Spin the dials for the interest rate and term of the loan. Touch the edit field for the loan amount. There is no step three! Best of all, there’s no need to strike a calculate button. The loan amount will dynamically change as you spin the dials. Touch the “Monthly Payment Table” button to see a full amortization schedule that you can view or e-mail to yourself. That’s all very cool.

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Amortization schedule

There’s a whole lot more. And the rest of the app is just as simple and intuitive.

The first page applies to any car loan two to seven years to pay*, with an APR (even 0%), but if you want to get more specific with a car purchase, touch the “Purchase” tab. There, you can enter the details of a car purchase such as a trade in, down payment, sales tax and more. Then, in a summary at the bottom, you’ll see a recap, including the net loan amount and monthly payment. There no fuss, and the app could hardly be laid out more clearly. If you have a question about a term or need details, just touch the “i” icon.

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Car purchase details (sample data only)

Another item of interest may be the ongoing cost of a car. For example, you may pay a little more for a hybrid upfront, but end up paying less in annual fuel costs. Also, a more expensive hybrid may cost more to insure. The “Ongoing…” tab does that, except that there is no provision for the tax credit some states, like Colorado, provide for high mileage cars. Since that varies so widely, and changes with each model year, it’s not something worth trying to add.

Just scroll the miles/year, MPG, and average gas cost to see how much you’ll spend in total, that is, loan amount plus insurance and gas.

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Ongoing costs

The report tab summarizes what’s been calculated so far, and that can also be e-mailed. The amortization schedule (not shown) is also recapped.

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Final report, with amortization schedule at bottom (not shown)

If you’re trying to decide between a buy and a lease, the “More” tab has a calculator that will show you the total cost, in today’s dollars for each option.

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Glossary

Finally, under the “More” tab is a glossary that explains car loan terms such as Lease Acquisition Cost, Money Factor, Net Lease Amount and other terms you might not have an immediate handle on.

A button to send feedback is prominent, on the main page, and hard to miss. Some apps include such a facility, but bury it somewhere.

The Bottom Line

I seldom rave about software. It seems there is always some flaw, some compromise that detracts from otherwise very good software. In this case, however, the developer Eamonn and Ian LLC have thought of everything and presented it in a form and sequence that’s worth raving about. The app is a stellar example of focus, design, execution and utility. And this is one app you’re sure to use at some point, so experimenting with it now is worthwhile.  A buck and 99 is a steal for this outstanding app.

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* As a result, the app can’t be used for most home loans.

Product: Car Calc Pro v 1.1, requires iOS 3.1.3 or later

Company: Eamonn and Ian LLC

List Price: US$1.99

Pros:

Straightforward, intuitive, friendly, complete.

Cons:

None noted.

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