• Affinity Scheme Cars: Drive in Style & Pay Less
  • Affinity Scheme Cars: Drive in Style & Pay Less

Affinity Scheme Cars: Drive in Style & Pay Less

Understand how the employee car lease scheme can make a new vehicle much more affordable

Affinity Car Schemes have become an increasingly popular employee benefit offered by companies across the UK. Under these schemes, employers partner up with car dealerships or lease companies to provide employees with discounted prices on new cars.

In this article, we’ll break down the nuts and bolts of Affinity Car Schemes, explaining how they work, who is eligible, and what cars are available. We’ll also look at the pros and cons of the scheme so you can get a better idea of what to expect and if it is an option you’ll want to consider. Read on to find out more…

What is an Affinity Scheme for Cars?

The Affinity Car Scheme is an employee benefit programme offered by some companies across the country. Think of it like a company car scheme; it allows employees to save money on the purchase of a new car through their employer who will have negotiated a discount with certain car dealerships or lease companies which employees can take advantage of.

Popular among companies that want to provide perks to their staff, the employee makes monthly payments for the car through payroll deductions over an agreed timeframe, usually a period of three to four years. This allows them to spread out the cost interest-free.

During the payment term, the car is legally owned by either the employer or the lease company. At the end of the contract, the employee has the option of using the scheme again for another car or taking full ownership of the existing car. There are tax advantages compared to regular car purchase plans - for example, no VAT has to be paid on the car, and the monthly deductions are taken from pre-tax income.

How does an Affinity Car Scheme work?

To benefit from the Affinity Car Scheme, your employer needs to have set up a partnership with a participating car dealership or lease company. The dealership or lease company will provide fleet discounts on new cars purchased through the scheme and offer a selection of models to choose from. Bear in mind that there is usually an advised price cap set by the employer so your total spend will be restricted to a certain amount.

Once you’ve chosen a car, the participating dealer or lease company purchases the brand-new car on your behalf. Essentially, the employee enters into a hire agreement with the employer, paying for the car in monthly instalments from their pre-tax salary.

The monthly amount is deducted from your salary and used to cover lease costs, so you’ll be responsible for covering car insurance, servicing, and maintenance during the term. To take part, you’ll need a special affinity code provided by your employer to access the suite of discounted vehicles available on the scheme.

What cars are included in the Affinity Scheme?

The Affinity Car Scheme typically includes popular makes and models from major manufacturers, so members will potentially have access to hundreds of new vehicles - including electric variants too. The exact makes and models included will vary by employer and can change seasonally based on availability.

Here at Wilsons Epsom, we partner with some of the world’s most popular manufacturers that offer cars on the Affinity Scheme, including:

  • Abarth

     Models: 500, 595, 695 (Abarth Affinity Scheme
  • Alfa Romeo

     Models: Giulia, Stelvio, Tonale (Alfa Romeo Affinity Scheme)
  • Fiat

     Models: 500, 500X, Panda, Tipo (Fiat Affinity Scheme)
  • Jeep

     Models:  Compass, Renegade, Wrangler (Jeep Affinity Scheme)
  • Hyundai

    Models: Bayon, Kona, i10, i20, i30, IONIQ 5, IONIQ 6, Tucson, Santa Fe Hybrid 
  • MG

    Models: MG4 EV, MG5 EV, MG ZS EV 
  • Nissan

    Models: Ariya, Juke, Leaf, Qashqai 
  • Peugeot

    Models: 2008, 3008 
  • Renault

    Models: Arkana, Austral, Captur, Clio, Megane, Scenic 

Who is eligible for the Affinity Car Scheme?

The Affinity scheme is offered to current employees of select corporate organisations or retired employees receiving a pension from an eligible company. For example, companies in the public sector, NHS, emergency services, armed forces, and charities are common beneficiaries of the scheme. 

What’s good to know is that the scheme is also extended to immediate family members, in-laws and step-relations. To clarify, the following relatives of eligible members are also able to participate in the scheme:

  • Spouse’s parents
  • Your grandparents
  • Spouse’s grandparents
  • Your siblings
  • Spouse’s siblings
  • Your children
  • Children’s spouses
  • Your grandchildren
  • Grandchildren’s spouses

What companies participate in the Affinity Car Scheme?

Companies qualifying for the Affinity Car Scheme in the UK typically include those in the public sector, charitable organisations, and major corporate employers. Here is a small selection of the employers taking part:

  • DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency)
  • Enterprise
  • Halfords
  • HomeServe
  • IKEA
  • Ladbrokes
  • Metropolitan Police
  • NHS
  • Panasonic
  • Royal Mail
  • Santander
  • Sainsbury's
  • The AA
  • Vodafone

Check with your employer to find out if the company you work for is part of the Affinity Car Scheme.

Where can I access cars in the Affinity Scheme?

You can access cars through the Affinity Scheme at designated dealerships affiliated with your employer's programme. Typically, the following sources can provide Affinity Scheme cars:

Approved Dealerships
Your company will partner with specific authorised dealers representing mainstream manufacturer brands for you to access. Franchise dealerships like ourselves here at Wilsons Epsom, can provide access to the latest new cars on the Affinity Scheme, including electric models.

Leasing Companies
Some employers work with leasing, finance, or contract hire companies instead of directly partnering up with dealers for the Affinity Scheme. These types of companies usually source the vehicles from major dealer networks.

Direct from the Manufacturer
In some cases, major fleet customers may connect directly with the vehicle manufacturer to supply Affinity Scheme cars to employees.

However your employer accesses the Affinity Car Scheme, the company’s source is designed to provide employees with access to new cars at discounted prices.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Affinity Car Scheme?

As with any scheme, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider before you sign up. Below, we outline the pros and cons of ordering a new car on the Affinity Scheme:

Affinity Scheme ADVANTAGESAffinity Scheme DISADVANTAGES
Discounted prices on new cars of up to 15% offCommitted to making payments for between 3-4 years
Make tax savings as monthly payments are taken from your pre-tax salaryLimited choice of vehicles capped by your employer
More convenient than private financingYou are still responsible for the running costs, such as insurance and maintenance
Allows you to budget as monthly payments are fixedYou won’t own the vehicle during the term until all payments are made
Access the latest models, including electric optionsYou may be tied into working for the current employer during the contract

What happens at the end of an Affinity Car Scheme contract?

Before you agree to an Affinity Scheme car, it’s important to understand what happens at the end of the contract first as there are a number of options available:

Purchase the Car Outright
After making the full set of agreed payments over the contract term (usually 3-4 years), the employee is given a right to purchase the car outright to take full legal ownership. The early discounted price often makes this an appealing proposition to do so. Bear in mind that some additional transfer admin fees may apply on top of any pending nominal amounts due.

Return the Car
Companies also offer employees the alternative option to voluntarily end usage and return the car to the operating lease company or affiliated dealer when the contract finishes. Of course, the condition of the car and associated mileage assessments would determine any extra end-of-lease charges.

Extend the Contract
If you are enjoying the car and would like to own it but can’t afford the outstanding amount owed, an extension of the existing affinity deal and payment term can be negotiated with your employer. Extra durations between 1-2 years may be agreed subject to performance reviews and rate restructuring.

Start a New Contract
Once any balance due on the car is paid, you can begin a new Affinity Scheme contract if your employer allows you to do so.

What is the FCA Privilege Program?

Similar to the standard Affinity Car Scheme in the UK, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (which is now part of the Stellantis Group) has its own scheme called the FCA Privilege Program. The scheme provides savings on new Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Jeep cars, as well as Fiat’s range of professional vans.

Many national companies and organisations across the country have signed up to the scheme to allow their employees to benefit from discounted new vehicles - including individuals employed by FCA/Stellantis.

FAQs and Answers

We hope you have found our Affinity Car Scheme article useful. If you have any other questions relating to the discounted car scheme, then please refer to our FAQs section below:

What is the NHS Affinity Car Scheme?

The NHS Affinity Car Scheme is an employee car purchase programme exclusive to National Health Service (NHS) staff. It allows NHS employees to get brand-new cars at discounted rates through salary sacrifice schemes. Discounts are usually 10-35% cheaper than standard prices, so provide NHS workers with access to cheaper, tax-efficient car buying opportunities.

What is an affinity car?

An affinity car refers to a car available to purchase at a discounted rate through an employee car purchase scheme, also known as an Affinity Scheme. A car purchased in this way allows employees of participating companies to access discounted brand-new vehicles, with payments directly linked to their payroll. Major brands like Fiat, Nissan, and Peugeot commonly feature in these schemes targeted at staff.

Who qualifies for affinity?

Employees of participating companies can qualify for the Affinity Car Scheme when approved to do so by their employer. Organisations taking part in the scheme include major corporations, the public sector, charities, and armed forces, among many others. Specific terms can still vary between company programs, so checking employer guidelines is absolutely essential.

How does affinity leasing work?

Affinity leasing in the UK refers to car leasing arrangements made under an employer-facilitated employee car purchase scheme. The employer will collaborate with a reputable leasing company to supply brand-new cars at discounted rates exclusive to its staff. Unlike personal finance deals, there is no large, initial upfront payment to be made, instead, the employee agrees to regular monthly lease payments deducted from their salary over a pre-agreed term.

Does affinity affect your credit score?

No, the Affinity Car Scheme typically does not affect your personal credit score or rating in the UK. This is because it does not involve taking out finance in your own name. Under most affinity schemes, the car is legally owned by an authorised dealership, leasing company, or your employer during the repayment period, rather than being financed by you directly from a lender.

Are electric cars included in the Affinity Car Scheme?

Yes, electric cars are being included in Affinity Car Schemes by an increasing number of providers. As electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity and become more mainstream, many employers are adding EV models across various brands into their company car salary sacrifice programmes.

Is car insurance included in the Affinity Scheme?

No, car insurance is not usually included in Affinity Car Schemes in the UK. While the scheme facilitates discounted new car purchases for employees, arranging insurance cover (be it fully comprehensive or third party) is typically the responsibility of the employee.

How long will my Affinity Scheme car take to be delivered?

The delivery time for an Affinity Scheme car in the UK can depend on various factors, such as build time per manufacturer. Typically though, most Affinity Scheme car deliveries take between 3-6 months from initial order to keys in hand. The dealer should provide guidance on realistic delivery timeframes when you confirm the order details. Keep in contact with the supplying dealership for updates on expected lead times as you anticipate taking delivery.

Take advantage of the Affinity Car Scheme at Wilsons Epsom

Here at Wilsons Epsom, we offer employees of our affiliated Affinity Car Scheme access to discounted new cars from leading manufacturers. Whether you want to cruise the streets in a sporty Alfa Romeo Giulia, pick up the family in a Peugeot 3008, or make a sustainability statement with an electric Nissan Leaf, we aim to get you behind the wheel for less.

So if you are looking to upgrade your ride while upgrading your savings in the process, chat with your employer about enrolling with Wilsons Affinity Scheme for serious perks on your next car purchase.

Transport For London

Cars need to meet minimum emission standards when travelling in the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) or the daily charge must be paid.

Minimum emission standards

Petrol: Euro 4
Diesel: Euro 6

The ULEZ will be enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle rather than the age. However:

Information from Transport For London

Check this car on the TFL website before purchasing: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle/

All our vehicles are subject to an Admin Fee. Our Admin Fee covers any additional administration needed during your transaction, including a thorough provenance check (HPI Check). The admin fee also includes the cost to fully valet, register and, if necessary, MOT your vehicle (if less than 6 months left of current MOT).

Our administration fee is a variable fee which covers the additional administration needed when transacting with different categories of customers as specified. Retail Customers £199.00 - (Private buyers - NOT an owner, partner or director of a new/used vehicle sales company). Retail Customers using a finance broker outside our official panel of lenders paying funds direct to Wilsons Epsom - £399.00. All fees are inclusive of VAT.