How Low Can My Credit Score Be To Get A Car Loan?

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2017)

What Credit Score Is Needed To Buy a Car?

What is a good credit score to buy a car or qualify for  car loan?

What is a good credit score to buy a car?The answer to this question is not going to be a single credit score because lenders look at each loan differently.

Each bank will offer loans that they believe to be fair for your credit history and credit rating. In this article, we will look specifically at auto loan lenders and car loans to answer the question, “What kind of credit score to buy a car do I need?” because you will find there is a big difference in car loans and credit scores versus other types of credit lenders.

Valley Auto Loans has helped hundreds of applicants with a minimum credit score for a car loan, that not only got them a good car but rebuild their credit rating fast.

A Low Credit Score Looks Different On Some Folks

Qualifying for a car loan with the lowest credit score will typically be considered on a person by person basis by the lender Minimum credit score for car loanyou choose to apply with.  Borrowing money with your personal credit score will be viewed differently by each lender who reviews your application and here is why.

With a high credit score, the lender will not be as concerned with your past credit history because you will already have qualified for a decent APR. However, for someone with a low credit score, the lender will need more information than just their credit score to make a loan offer.

Lenders realize that a minimum credit score does not necessarily mean that you cannot pay back a car loan on time. So they will look closer at your credit history, especially any car loans you have had in the past. This review will provide them a better idea of how you will handle your vehicle loan.

How Your Credit Score to Buy a Car Is Evaluated.

Credit Classification        Credit Rating         Difficulty to Qualify For a Car Loan

Bad Credit                           400 – 559                   Expect to be rejected by most lenders. Auto lender who will provide financing will charge high interest. These loans should only be used to repair your credit and obtain dependable transportation. This is the lowest credit score for a car loan and will be an expensive auto loan.

Subprime Credit              560 – 649                 Again, subprime lenders will charge higher interest rates, but the choice of loan terms and down payment that are required are more diverse. Even if you find a reasonable monthly payment, these loans should only be kept long enough to repair your credit rating. However, overall, this is an acceptable credit score to buy a car.

Average Credit                 650 – 699                   This is where it gets tricky. At this point, it is important to shop around for the best APR rates.  With low credit scores, you will shop around to find lenders who can finance your loan. However, with an average credit score, you will need to research and compare several auto lenders and look closer at the low APR they offer. You will find a broad range of auto loan terms and percentage rates in this credit score range. That is why it is important to shop lenders. A few points can save hundreds of dollars a month.

Good Credit                      700 – 749                 This is what you are working for as a goal. Any auto lender will offer you a car loan, and you will find a variety of loan benefits, term choices, and low-interest rates. You have the option of higher monthly payments and shorter loan terms; or lower payments, no down payment options and longer loan terms.

Excellent  Credit             750 – 850                 Auto loans are easy to get from the best banks and credit unions. You will enjoy easy terms and the lowest interest rates. Obviously, this is the best credit score needed to buy a car at the lowest APR rate.

As you can see, your credit score will be a major part of qualifying for a reasonable car loan. Of people shopping for cars, automotive purchase reporting shows that only 1 in 10 will pay for the car with cash on hand. The other 9 will use auto finance lenders and of those, a major part of them will have bad credit or the minimum credit score to buy a car.

Auto Loans for People With Subprime or Bad Credit

When you apply for a car loan at a car dealership you will find that not all car dealers will use subprime auto lenders.

If your credit score is low, your loan will be considered high risk, and you will likely be denied for financing. At this point, bad credit car buyers will turn to Buy Here Pay Here lots or car dealers who offer in house financing.

Most people with bad credit trying purchase a car will gladly accept the loan terms from these types of car lots. However, with the lowest credit score, you should consider the impact that this loan will have on your ability to repair your credit rating.

  1. These dealers offer to finance only to sell cars. They know people with bad credit will pay higher rates and longer terms to get the vehicle.
  2. These dealers are not looking out for your best financial interests. They expect that half of the car buyers they finance will miss payments and half of them will default on the loan altogether. The cost for repossessing a car by the dealer are typically calculated into the by here pay here loans. In most cases, this can seem unfair to the buyer.
  3. By using in-house dealer financing, you could miss an opportunity to build your credit score and repair your credit history.
  4. Remember that the main reason to finance a car loan with bad credit is to improve your credit. Even a high-interest car loan will fix your credit rating fast.

If you have a below average credit score, you can expect to pay on average three to five times more in interest that the typical borrower.

Building Credit Basics

In time everyone can build up a bad credit rating to qualify for the lower interest rates. Most people know the basics.

  • Lower your debt to credit ratio or pay down your debt as much as possible.
  • Pay your monthly payments on time.
  • Maintain open credit accounts in good standing.

These credit building practices work well but require time and money to accomplish.

If you can put off buying a car for a time, then start setting aside the money you would be paying for your monthly car payment. This will give you a chance to collect a better down payment. Paying a larger down payment will automatically lower your payments no matter what interest rate your new car loan will carry.

What Low Credit Score Loans Will Cost You

What credit score is needed to buy a car?If you have checked your credit score and then tried to get a car loan from a car dealer, you will probably notice they see a lower credit score than you see from other credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. That is because car dealers and auto lenders use an automotive based credit history. This automotive credit report shows in great detail your past credit experience with any auto loans you may have had.

When you shop for auto financing with a low credit score to buy a car, you will also find that loan financing APR rates from car manufacturers such as Ford, GM, Toyota and so on, will vary. Don’t accept the loan offer from the dealer without checking other lenders as well. Just because you are at a particular car dealer, and they offer their brand name financing, does not mean you are getting the best financing for your vehicle loan. Many people have received bad loan terms from major auto loan lenders.

If your credit score is below 550, a loan for a new car will cost you five time more in interest than someone with good to excellent credit.

Let’s look at it broken down from good credit to bad credit.

Average Credit Score                 Financing A New Car          Loans For A New Car

Bad Credit 400 – 500                  13.53%                               18.98%

Subprime Credit 560 – 649         10.65%                             15.72%

Average Credit   650 – 699          6.39%                                9.47%

Good Credit  700 – 749                3.59%                                 5.12%

Excellent Credit                            2.6%                                    3.4%

Last year the average cost of a subprime car loans was 10.65%

Remember that these high-interest loans should only be used for building credit. Refinancing these loans after your credit improves will lower your interest rate and shorten your loan term or lower your payments.

Use Your Car Loan to Build Your Credit Score; Refinance Is A Must.

Let’s look at a typical high-interest loan scenario of someone with a minimum credit score for a car loan. We will see how using high-interest loans can quickly build your credit score.

Starting with a credit score of 550 this person took out a loan at 18% APR and made a $1000.00 down payment. His monthly payments were $265.00 for 73 months.

At that time and with that credit score, this was the best loan deal he found. However, in five months time with on-time car payments and no other late payments on his other debts, his credit score rose to 640.

He checked with some auto refinancing agencies and found one to refinance his car loan at a much lower rate. With a plan to cut his debt he applied a $4000.00 payment to the principal and refinanced the car loan at 6.75% for 60 months.

The new loan also lowered his monthly car payments to $196.00.

With planning and hard work, you can rebuild your credit score in a short amount of time and get rid of those high-interest loans.

Here are some helpful tips to follow when searching for auto financing with a low credit score to buy a car.

  • Start by searching dealer tricks and sales scams on the internet. Learn what the dealer is targeting when you walk onto the dealers’ lot. They will be surprised when their tricks do not work on you!
  • Try to sell your old car yourself, instead of passing your equity to the dealers pocket. You will always get more for your car by selling it outright instead of trading it to the dealer.
  • Don’t let the dealer work the vehicle deal by your monthly payments. Always go for the lower APR. Dealers will get you lower payments with longer loan terms and higher interest rates. This will cost you more in the long run.
  • Do not accept ridiculous loan terms like six or seven-year terms. Remember that there is potential for financial trouble that can occur in that length of time and the interest paid will be excessive.
  • Bear in mind that dealers will use scams like calling you a month or two after you take possession of the car and tell you that the loan fell through and you need to come in and redo your financing. This is a scam to lock you into a higher APR or higher payments on a different loan contract.
  • Choose a car that you will be happy with for a long time. Save money for your next car after you pay off your car loan.
  • Make extra payments to the principal and pay off the car as soon as possible.

We hope this information has helped you to become more car loan savvy.

Most people have fallen into bad credit problems by circumstances beyond their control. Loss of job, unexpected emergencies and events may have dropped your credit score, but there are things you can do.

Use credit wisely and use new car loans to work for you to build credit and will not add to the damage.

Valley Auto Loans is ready to help you with New and Used Car Loans, Subprime Car Loans, Auto Refinancing and more. Apply today! It only takes a few minutes. We will help you figure out what credit score is needed to buy a car in your circumstances.

We also offer many how-to tips for car owners and other auto financing aids to help you with whatever credit problems you have.

Let Valley Auto Loans get you on the road to better credit with new car financing.