Whether loaning your son money to pay off his car note would be a wise move largely depends on the terms of his current loan, particularly interest rate being charged. If his current interest rate is particularly high (for reference, the national average is currently about 8%), it may make good financial sense to lend him the $8000 he needs to pay off the note. Presumably, you will offer your son a favorable interest rate, which could save him a significant sum of money over the life of the loan. Since he filed bankruptcy a couple of years ago, I would not be surprised if you told me that your sonís current interest rate is 15% per annum or even higher.
Taking steps now to rid himself of the burden imposed by such high-cost financing may help your son create a more stable financial future by freeing up money that he can save and invest instead of spending it on high interest payments.
Paying off the car note should not negatively affect your sonís credit rating as it stands today; in fact, it may have a slightly positive impact on his score by lowering his overall amount of outstanding debt.
However, if he pays the debt in full, the auto finance company will no longer be able to report your son's on-time payments each month, which have likely been helping him reestablish a positive payment history and rebuild his credit rating in the wake of his bankruptcy filing. Continuing to make payments to the finance company would likely improve your sonís credit score over the next few years, if coupled with other responsible uses of credit.
However, I do not think it wise for your son to allow a high-interest debt to continue to accrue finance charges each month simply to add a few points to his credit score. The benefit of continuing making payments is not significant enough compared to the effects of paying the debt now to justify the additional expense, which will be significant when considered over the life of the loan.
Assuming that the interest rate on your sonís auto loan is well above average (which is very likely due to his bankruptcy filing), it would probably be a good idea to help him pay the debt off immediately (as long as you feel comfortable doing so). Once the debt is paid, your son can worry about rebuilding his credit by opening a low-limit credit card or gas card, which he should use judiciously and pay off every month.
If he is unable to obtain credit due to his bankruptcy filing, he may want to consider opening a small secured credit card. He could also ask a friend or relative to add him as an authorized user on an established credit account.
To learn more about credit and what steps your son can take to improve his credit rating, I invite you to visit the Bills.com Credit Information page.
I wish you and your son the best of luck, and hope the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.