Piano Financing: What to Know About These 4 Options
So you’ve always dreamed of tinkling the ivories, or maybe you harbor a secret hope your child will one day become a concert pianist. Whatever your motivation for buying a piano, the average cost can vary greatly, from a top-of-the-line upright piano at more than $100,000 or a digital model for $2,000.
When you factor in additional costs such as maintenance, tuning, and physically moving it into your home, buying a piano can quickly become a much larger investment than originally anticipated. Once you determine your needs and your budget, you will probably want to apply for piano financing. That may include a personal loan or one of the other funding options we cover below.
Piano financing: What are your options?
If you choose the in-house financing route, you can go directly through the piano seller. This can be a more convenient option, points out Des Moines, Iowa-based personal finance expert Melissa Brock, who is currently searching for a piano for her six-year-old daughter.
“You’re connected with the store anyway to look at the piano you want to purchase — so instead of making yet one more trip to the bank, you’re right where you need to be,” Brock said. “You might need to spend a certain amount of money in order to qualify for music store financing, so check the options at every music store to be sure.”
Here are a few vendors that offer piano financing:
- Graves Piano: Offers fixed-rate financing with terms ranging from one to 10 years through Piano Credit Company.
- Steinway & Sons: Offers financing for up to 15 years through Allegro Credit.
- PianoForte: Partners with Allegro Credit to offer financing.
How to qualify
Requirements to qualify for in-house financing can be more flexible compared to outside lenders. Dealers may also offer incentives, such as no interest for several months, in order to compete with lenders. You can typically expect a credit check and a process similar to what you’d undergo for a personal loan to qualify. This might include showing proof of your personal identity, some form of income and stable employment, as well as meeting basic age and U.S. residency or citizenship requirements.
Rent to own
First-time owners who may not be ready to commit long-term to owning a piano may want to consider rent-to-own financing. Keep in mind that, in addition to committing to a monthly rental fee and having to put down a deposit, you may also have to pay round-trip moving and shipping expenses upfront. Here are a few retailers offering rent-to-own financing:
- PianoForte: Rent a new piano for 2% of the purchase price of a new piano per month. At the end of your rental period, you can choose to return the piano, continue renting it, or purchase it outright with the first 12 months of payments credited toward your purchase.
- Capital Music Center: No commitment required from renters, but allows 100% of the first six months’ payments and 50% of each month thereafter to be applied toward the purchase. A deposit of up to 50% may be required in some instances.
- Artist Pianos: Rent a new or reconditioned piano for up to two rental periods of six months each. At the end of the term, you could either purchase or upgrade it with the ability to apply 100% of your rental fees toward it — or return it with no further obligation.
This kind of piano financing has a clear advantage over other options: A rent-to-own agreement buys you time to later change your mind. However, you’ll forfeit some money if you rent to own for a long period of time and never end up purchasing the piano, Brock said.
You should also check the fine print on your rental agreement to ensure you get the best possible terms if and when you do decide to keep the piano. For example, clarify whether your payments will be applied in full toward the piano if it goes on sale later, or if you will be held to the regular asking price.
How to qualify
Rent-to-own financing may be beneficial to those with poor credit and those who would prefer not to have any credit checks. That’s because some companies may not ask you to submit to a credit check to qualify. This allows you to use the rent-to-own model as an installment payment plan.
You’ll need to put down a deposit to benefit from this financing option, as well as provide documentation verifying your identity and a valid credit card. If you miss a payment, you could be liable for reinstatement fees and other extra charges.
Another financing option for purchasing your piano is to take out a personal loan, a form of unsecured debt that can be used for almost any purpose and is repaid on a fixed rate over a fixed term. Depending on your credit profile, a personal loan can be an affordable borrowing option.
“This type of loan is ideal if you’re interested in getting a piano and something else, like updating your bathroom cabinets,” Brock said. That said, many personal loan lenders have high minimum borrowing amounts of $2,000 or more. Occasionally, you’ll find lenders or loan marketplaces, such as Upstart, where you can find a minimum borrowing amount of $1,000, however.
How to qualify
With this piano financing option, you’ll apply directly with a personal loan lender. You’ll need to demonstrate good to excellent credit to qualify with most lenders; the lowest rates are reserved for borrowers with excellent credit.
During the application process, you’ll get to choose your preferred loan term and have to provide self-identifying information, such as your Social Security number, and documentation to prove your income. Depending on the lender you choose, you could receive the requested funds in your bank account as soon as the next business day, or within several business days.
Bad or no-credit borrowers will find this to be an expensive financing option, with rates potentially into the triple digits. In those cases, we advise you to consider your other options before committing to a personal loan.
Low-interest credit card
Whether a credit card is the right type of financing for you will depend on a number of factors such as your credit score, how much you need to borrow and how soon you want to pay it off. Unlike personal loans, where you get a set amount of time in which to pay off your debt before penalties kick in, credit cards must be paid off in full or else you will pay interest on the remaining balance.
However, if you are able to get a credit card with an introductory offer of 0% APR, which in some cases can last up to 21 months, you can effectively pay off your balance with zero interest costs. However, there are a few caveats to consider:
- You can’t miss any payments and you must pay at least the minimum required each month to keep the promotion.
- You may be charged deferred interest if you don’t pay off your debt before the promotional period ends; that means you could be charged interest on your balance back to day one.
One advantage of using your credit card to pay off a major purchase like a piano is that you can earn significant rewards such as points, cash back or other affiliated perks. However, you should be aware of high interest rates that could lead you to pay more in the long term. Other drawbacks include exceeding your credit limit and also increasing your credit utilization — the amount of credit you use. High credit utilization could hurt your credit score.
How to qualify
The most important determining factor in the type of credit card you are eligible for is your credit score. This score will determine both the interest rate you pay and the amount you may borrow. It could also make you eligible for promotional offers.
To qualify for a credit card, you will be asked to submit to a credit check and include information such as your income. In most cases, you’ll apply directly with the credit card issuer and need to wait a few weeks to receive your card in the mail.
Buying a used piano for less
Financing a piano on top of other associated costs may be cost-prohibitive for many families, especially if it ends up gathering dust if the intended players lose interest. Consider what you would use it for and whether you need a brand-new instrument, or if you could save some money by purchasing a piano that is gently used but still in great condition.
Looking for used pianos online in neighborhood forums, Facebook groups and other listings could be fruitful. It will also bring down your overall costs, unless you need to invest a substantial amount in moving the piano to your home or repairing or tuning it.