(844) 845-4219
You can get the keys to a new car even if you have bad credit

How to Buy a Car When Your Credit’s Not So Hot » Auto » How to Buy a Car When Your Credit’s Not So Hot



So, you’re in the market for a new set of wheels but your credit score is making you sweat? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Bad credit can feel like a roadblock, but it’s more like a speed bump. Let’s navigate this journey together, shall we?

What’s the Deal with Credit Scores?

Alright, let’s dive a bit deeper into this whole credit score thing. Your credit score is like your financial report card, and it ranges from 300 to 850. The higher your score, the more doors open for you, especially when it comes to getting loans with lower interest rates.

  • Superprime (781-850): If you’re here, you’re the teacher’s pet of the credit world. You’ll get the best rates and terms.
  • Prime (661-780): Still pretty solid! You won’t get the absolute best rates, but you’ll get something pretty darn close.
  • Nonprime (601-660): You’re in the middle of the pack. Your rates will be higher, but you’re far from doomed.
  • Subprime (501-600): Ah, the “subprime” zone. This is where things get a bit tricky. Lenders see you as a riskier bet, so they’ll charge you higher interest rates to offset that risk.
  • Deep Subprime (300-500): If you’re here, you’re going to face the steepest rates and may need to put more money down upfront. But don’t lose hope; there are still options for you.

Here’s a quick tip: If you’re in the subprime or deep subprime categories, consider taking some time to improve your credit score before making a big purchase like a car. Even a small bump in your score can save you a lot of money in the long run.

So, whether you’re a credit superstar or you’re working your way up, knowing your score and what it means can give you the upper hand when you’re car shopping. Got it? Cool, let’s keep cruising!

Shop Around for Loans: Your Financial Pit Stop Before the Dealership

Alright, let’s pump the brakes for a second and talk about something crucial: shopping for loans. This is your pit stop before you zoom off to the dealership, and trust me, it’s a game-changer.

Why Pre-Approval is Your Best Friend

First off, aim for pre-approval. This is like having a golden ticket when you walk into a dealership. It shows you’re serious and have done your homework. Plus, it gives you a clear picture of what you can afford, so you’re not swayed by those shiny, out-of-budget cars.

Where to Look for Loans

  • Your Own Bank: Start with the bank you already have a relationship with. They know your financial history and might offer you a deal that’s a bit sweeter.
  • Credit Unions: These are like the friendly neighbors of the financial world. They often offer lower interest rates and more flexible terms. You might even score a deal if you’re a member.
  • Online Lenders: The internet is your oyster here. Some online lenders specialize in bad credit car loans. Just make sure to read reviews and check for any red flags.
  • Peer-to-Peer Lending: This is like crowdfunding for your car. Small investors or community members chip in to fund your loan. It’s a more personalized approach and could work well if your credit is less than stellar.

Negotiation Power

Having a pre-approved loan in hand gives you the upper hand in negotiations. You can confidently say, “I’m already approved for X amount at Y rate. Can you beat that?” It puts the ball in their court to offer you something better.

A Word on Cosigners

If you have a family member or friend with good credit, they might be willing to cosign the loan for you. This can help you qualify for better financing terms. Just make sure you’re both clear on the responsibilities because if you miss payments, it affects their credit too.

So, before you get all starry-eyed over that new car smell, make sure you’ve got your financial ducks in a row. A little prep work can go a long way in getting you a deal that won’t break the bank.

Beware of Predatory Loans: The Red Flags You Can’t Ignore

Ah, the allure of “guaranteed approval” and “no credit checks” — it’s like a siren song for anyone with less-than-stellar credit. But hold up, let’s pump the brakes for a second. These offers often come with a hidden cost, and it’s not just a higher interest rate. We’re talking about predatory loans, and they’re as nasty as they sound.

What Makes a Loan Predatory?

Predatory loans are designed to trap you in a cycle of debt. They come with sky-high interest rates, hidden fees, and terms that make it almost impossible to pay off the loan in a reasonable time. And guess what? They often don’t even report positive payments to credit agencies, so your credit score stays stuck in the mud.

Spotting the Signs

Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Pressure to Sign: If they’re rushing you to sign the papers, that’s a bad sign.
  • No credit checks: That means they are charging whatever they want. It also likely means they don’t report to a credit agency, so even if you pay off your loan, it won’t help your credit rating
  • High APR: Anything significantly above the average is a no-go.
  • Hidden Fees: Look out for extra costs tucked away in the fine print.
  • Spot Financing: This is when the dealer arranges the loan but changes the terms later. Not cool.
  • Secured with other assets: The only collateral required is the car itself, walk away.
  • Packing the loan: When a dealer tries to get you to think about the cost of the car in monthly payments instead of the full price and then adds extras that you don’t need.

The Ugly Truth About “Buy Here, Pay Here” Dealerships

You know those used car lots that say they’ll finance anyone? They’re often called “Buy Here, Pay Here” dealerships, and they’re the fast food of car loans — quick, but not good for you. They charge exorbitant rates and may install tracking devices in the cars for easier repossession. Yikes!

Protect Yourself

The best defense is a good offense. Do your homework, read the fine print, and don’t be afraid to walk away if something feels off. Your gut usually knows what’s up.

So, while the idea of instant approval might be tempting, remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Keep your eyes peeled and your wits about you, and you’ll steer clear of these financial potholes.

Prep Steps Before Applying: Your Financial Tune-Up

Okay, let’s hit the pause button and chat about tidying up your finances before you start browsing for that new ride. Believe me, a smidge of planning now can steer you clear of future hassles—and keep more cash in your pocket.

Know Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

First up, your debt-to-income ratio. This is basically how much money you owe compared to how much you make. Lenders love to see this number below 36%. It tells them you’re not drowning in debt and can handle a car payment. So, take a look at your monthly bills and income, and see where you stand.

Save for a Beefier Down Payment

Next, let’s chat about the down payment. The general rule of thumb is the more you can put down front, the better. Why? Three reasons:

  • Lower Monthly Payments: The less you borrow, the less you’ll owe each month. Simple as that.
  • Better Interest Rates: A larger down payment can often secure you a better interest rate, saving you even more money in the long run.
  • Less Risk of Being “Upside Down”: This is when you owe more on the car than it’s actually worth. A bigger down payment helps you avoid this sticky situation.

Check Your Credit Report

Before you apply, give your credit report a once-over. Make sure there are no errors that could drag down your score. If you spot any, get them corrected ASAP.

Consider a Co-Signer

If your credit is really in the pits, think about asking a family member or close friend to co-sign the loan for you. This can help you secure better financing terms, but remember, you’re also putting their credit on the line. So, make those payments on time, okay?

How It Affects Your Credit: The Long and Short of It

Alright, let’s dig a bit deeper into how getting a car loan impacts your credit score. Initially, your score might take a small hit. Why? Well, when you apply for a loan, lenders do what’s called a “hard inquiry” on your credit report. This can shave a few points off your score, but it’s usually temporary.

Now, here’s where the magic happens. Once you secure that loan and start making on-time payments, you’re actually doing wonders for your credit. Payment history makes up a significant chunk of your credit score—about 35%, to be exact. So, every payment you make on time is like a little high-five to your credit score.

But wait, there’s more! Successfully paying off an installment loan like a car loan can leave a positive mark on your credit report for up to ten years. Lenders love seeing that you’ve managed debt responsibly before, and it could make it easier for you to get approved for other types of credit in the future.

Just a heads-up, though: If you’re thinking about refinancing your car loan down the line for a better rate, that’s cool. But remember, it’ll trigger another hard inquiry, so make sure it’s worth it.

So, in a nutshell: Yes, your credit score might dip a smidge at first, but if you’re consistent with your payments, you’re setting yourself up for some long-term credit score sunshine.

Final Thoughts: Your Roadmap to Success

Look, buying a car with bad credit isn’t a dead-end; it’s more like a detour on your financial journey. Sure, it might take a bit longer and you’ll need to be extra cautious, but it’s totally doable. Here’s how to make it a smooth ride:

  • Be Realistic: Know what you can afford. Don’t go for the flashy sports car if a reliable sedan is what your budget allows.
  • Do Your Homework: Research is your best friend. Know the market rates, know your options, and definitely know your credit score.
  • Negotiate: You’d be surprised how much room there is for negotiation, not just on the car price but also the loan terms. Don’t be shy; the worst they can say is no.
  • Stay Disciplined: Once you get that loan, make those payments on time, every time. This could be your stepping stone to improving your credit score for future loans.
  • Celebrate the Small Wins: Got pre-approved for a loan? That’s a win. Successfully negotiated down the interest rate? Another win. These small victories add up and make the whole process less daunting.

So, with a little prep, some smart choices, and a dash of courage, you’ll be cruising in your new ride in no time. And who knows? This experience might just be the financial wake-up call that sets you on the path to even greater things.

Find solutions to pay off credit card debt to improve your credit and loan approval chances.

Free EvaluationCall To Action Link

How Much Could You Save?

Just tell us how much you owe, in total, and we’ll estimate your new consolidated monthly payment.