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Youth Ministry

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Keith Osborne
Keith Osborne

Help Buying A Car With Bad Credit Fixed

We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

help buying a car with bad credit


For example, someone with subprime credit (which Experian defines as scores of 501 to 600) received an average rate of 11.33% for a new vehicle and 17.78% for a used one in the second quarter of 2020, according to an Experian report. By comparison, the average interest rate on a 60-month new-car loan was 5.14% during that same period, according to the Federal Reserve.

Checking your credit can also help set your expectations before you start looking for a loan. You can check your Equifax and TransUnion credit reports for free on Credit Karma or request one free credit report from each credit bureau per year at

Getting a car loan with a credit score of 500 could be tough, too. The Experian report shows that only 0.37% of new-car loans and 4.35% of used-car loans issued in the fourth quarter of 2019 went to people with credit scores of 500 or lower.

When you check your credit well in advance, you can even give yourself the chance to make adjustments and potentially increase your scores before you submit an application. Improving your scores may help you get better terms and a lower interest rate, which should save you money over time. Here are tips for improving your credit scores:

Coming up with a down payment isn't always easy, though, so you may consider delaying your car purchase to save for a larger one. Doing this could make you a more competitive applicant, lower the amount you owe and help you lock in a lower interest rate.

Once you have a preapproval letter in hand, it will not only help you understand which vehicles are in your price range, but you may be able to use a record of your preapproval to negotiate a good purchase price.

After you get all your affairs in order and you're ready to apply for a loan, it's important to first do some shopping around. If you're having trouble getting approved for a loan from a conventional lender, take a look at lenders that are known for working with people that have lower credit scores. These lenders may offer loans at higher interest rates, but they help those with poor credit scores get approved.

As you search for the loan with the best terms and lowest interest rate, you may end up applying with multiple lenders. As previously mentioned, each time a lender checks your credit because you've submitted an application, a hard inquiry will be recorded in your credit reports. By applying with multiple auto lenders in the span of two weeks, however, these inquiries get grouped together into one.

Before you apply for a car loan, it's important to become familiar with the various borrowing options you may have. Some lenders offer loans to those with poor credit, but others may not. Knowing how each lender works beforehand could save you time and energy in the application process. Here are the most common types of auto financing:

First, when you apply for an auto loan (or multiple loans if you try with several lenders), a record of your application (called a hard credit inquiry) will be listed in your reports. This shows that a lender checked your credit reports as part of the application process. This record remains in a credit report for up to two years, but might not have any impact on your scores after just a few months.

Getting preapproved is more significant than getting prequalified. Walking into a dealership with a preapproval sets a firm budget for your purchase. From there, you can search for vehicles that fall within your purchase limit and dealers will know you mean business.

Many people focus on the interest rate and monthly payment when looking for an auto loan. However, the sale price of the vehicle is the most significant factor when determining how much you pay for a car. If you can get the dealer to come down on price, it can save you a lot of money in interest over the next several years. Use your preapproval letter as a starting point when discussing price with the dealership.

While it may seem daunting to qualify for a car loan with a bad credit score (below 580), there is a large network of lenders and car dealers who are more willing to work with low- and bad-credit score borrowers. If all goes well and payments are made on time, it can help boost your credit profile.

You can check your credit report with each of the three bureaus through You can typically check your report for free once per year, but due to Covid-19, each credit bureau is offering free weekly credit reports until April 20, 2022.

This will help the lender determine whether to issue the loan and how much interest, additional fees or down payment might be required to secure the loan. The higher the risk, the more you will pay in loan fees.

Even though you may have bad credit, there is an abundance of lending sources for you to choose from. Part of that is because the vehicle acts as collateral and secures the loan, which helps reduce the risk the lender takes on. However, if you repeatedly fail to make on-time monthly car payments or default, the lender can repossess the car.

If you already have a relationship with a bank or credit union, it might have a lower rate or special deal because it will want to keep or expand their services with you. Your financial institution can often assess your information easier or faster if your bank account is already with them.

Most dealerships will gladly offer financing on-site in order to sell a car faster, but some are more reputable than others. Dealers typically partner with banks and other lenders to do this. Be sure to read the fine print because some dealers will bury fees and offer expensive loans, especially if you have bad credit.

Bringing a friend or relative to a car dealership or bank to act as a co-signer is one of the most powerful tools you can have for getting a loan with bad credit and lowering the overall cost of the loan, such as a lower interest rate.

A car loan can be either good or bad for your overall credit. Handled right, it helps you establish a positive credit history through on-time payments and improves your credit mix on your credit report. However, if you miss payments or default, a car loan can damage your credit.

Do you have bad credit? Brand-new credit? If you do, getting a decent car loan can be tough. The good news is that with some guidance and a little patience, it should be possible to secure a fair car loan regardless of your credit situation.

You should start with your credit report to see how it would look to a lender. Run it at least three months before you plan on buying so you can take action on any outstanding items, recommends Rod Griffin, director of public education for credit reporting company Experian.

Rather than viewing them as blemishes on your credit, "these risk factors can empower you as a consumer to help rehabilitate your credit," Griffin says. The risk factors are present in all reports, so if you fix an issue you found on one credit report, the action will be reflected on all the other reports.

For example, if we use the average interest rate received by each group of borrowers with credit scores below 660, here's how those numbers work out in real life for a $17,000 used car with a 66-month auto loan:

Understanding this reality before you start shopping will do more than help you save time. It will also save you the frustration of looking at cars that don't fit your budget. If you're not sure how to figure out your price range, read "How Much Car Can I Afford?"

Pro tip: Bring a copy of your credit report with you to the dealership. Having it available might help the dealership skip running your credit, which it would need to do to give you a ballpark idea of the approval you'll be offered.

Also, check with your bank or credit union. It might be more willing to approve you since you already have an established financial relationship. You might also try an online lender such as Capital One, which offers auto loans for people with a credit score of 500 and up.

When it comes to deciding the car you're going to buy, it helps to understand that loan companies do not view all cars the same way. Imagine two $12,000 vehicles: The first is a 3-year-old economy car with 45,000 miles. The other is a 10-year-old luxury car with 120,000 miles. Although both cars have the same selling price, they are more likely to approve the newer car with fewer miles.

"Generally, if somebody has made good payments for 18 months, assuming the customer hasn't created new credit problems, then there may be an opportunity to get a lower interest rate," said Martin Less, president of Nationwide Acceptance, a lender that works with people in the nonprime market.

Here is a hard truth about buying a car with relatively new or bad credit: You'll likely need a down payment. Most banks will require "at least 10 percent down payment, or $1,000, whichever is greater," Less says.

Using a trade-in as a down payment is a popular option, but some banks may prefer cash. In the eyes of some lenders, a cash down payment helps prove that you're committed to maintaining the auto loan.

If you had trouble getting preapproved, or prefer to handle it in person, head to a big-name car dealership. Most dealerships that do lots of business will have a system in place to help get approval for shoppers who have less than perfect credit. In some cases, dealerships will even have dedicated personnel whose job is getting subprime and deep subprime loans approved. This group is often called the special finance department.

Dealerships that regularly work with credit-challenged shoppers will know which lender will be most likely to approve your loan based on your specific situation. Just as all buyers don't have the same level of bad credit, not all lenders have the same requirements. A dealer might need to place a buyer with a recent bankruptcy with a different bank than one he'd select for a buyer who has a low score because of a recent divorce. A dealer who knows where to send a loan can be key in getting a shopper approved. 041b061a72


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