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How to Get a Car Loan With Bad Credit

16 min.

Receiving approval for a car loan with bad credit may be tough, but it's not impossible. A low credit score may mean higher interest rates and less favorable loan terms, but there are still options available for those with bad credit to finance a car purchase.

How to Get a Car Loan With Bad Credit

Before applying for a car loan, it's important to improve your credit score by paying down debt and correcting any errors on your credit report. Determine a budget for the car and the loan and take into consideration your income, expenses, and credit score.

Here, you will understand how to get a car loan with bad credit. By taking the following steps and shopping around for the best loan options, you can increase the chance of being approved for a car loan with bad credit.

Steps to Take Before Applying for a Bad Credit Auto Loan

  1. Check your credit score. Your credit score reflects your credit history. It is used by lenders to determine the risk of lending you money. If you have poor credit, it's important to check your credit score before applying for an auto loan. You are entitled to receive one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus per year. You can request your credit report online and review it for errors. If you find errors, dispute them with the credit bureau to improve your credit score. The credit score ranges from 300 to 850, with good credit scores starting at 670 and bad credit scores falling below 630. The higher your credit score, the better offers for a car loan you will receive. Check your credit score before applying to get a better understanding of your financial standing and help you make informed decisions.
  2. Determine the budget for the car and the loan. Before shopping for a car, assess your financial situation and determine how much you can afford to pay each month. You can calculate this by taking into account your monthly expenses and your income. Consider what you can afford to pay besides your regular monthly expenses. This will give you an idea of how much you can afford to contribute for a monthly payment. When shopping for a bad credit auto loan, it's important to compare loan offers from multiple banks or credit unions, auto lenders, and other financial institutions to determine the estimated loan terms and interest rates. Keep in mind that if you have bad credit, you may be offered a higher interest rate, so compare loan offers carefully to find the best option for your budget. By determining your budget and understanding your estimated monthly payment, you can make informed decisions throughout the car shopping process and avoid over-extending yourself financially.
  3. Save up for a down payment. Saving up for a down payment can lower the overall cost of the loan. A down payment not only shows lenders you are committed to the loan, but it can also reduce the amount you need to borrow and lower your monthly payments. To save up for a down payment, set aside a portion of your monthly income into a savings account. You can also cut back on expenses and find additional sources of income, such as selling items you no longer need or taking on a part-time job. It's important to set a savings goal and stick to a budget to ensure that you have enough money for a down payment. It may take time to save up for a down payment, but it can be worth it in the long run, as a larger down payment can help lower your monthly payments and the overall cost of the loan.
  4. Shop around for lenders who offer bad credit car loans. The lenders have different requirements, interest rates, and loan terms, so you must compare options to find the best deal. Start by researching auto loan providers online and checking with multiple lenders, including credit unions, banks, and specialty lenders. Compare interest rates, loan terms, and requirements to determine the best lender for your needs. When shopping for bad credit car loans, be prepared to provide information about your income, expenses, and credit history. Keep in mind that bad credit car loans typically have higher interest rates and may require a co-signer, a larger down payment, or both. By shopping around for lenders and comparing options, you can find a bad credit car loan with favorable terms and lower interest rates. Take your time and do your research to find the best bad credit auto loan option for your needs.
  5. Gather necessary documents. Gathering the necessary documents is an important step in applying for a bad credit car loan. In general, you will need to provide personal and financial information to prove your creditworthiness. This may include proof of income, such as pay stubs or tax returns, proof of residency, like a utility bill or bank statement, and your driver's license or state-issued identification card. Some lenders may also require references or a co-signer. Before applying for a bad credit car loan, it's important to check with your bank or credit union, auto lenders, car dealerships, and online lenders to determine what documents are required. This will ensure that you have all the information on hand when you apply and will be approved for an auto loan. By gathering the documents, you boost the chances of being approved for a bad credit car loan and securing a loan offer with favorable terms. Take the time to gather all the required information before applying to make the process as smooth as possible.
  6. Prepare a list of questions for the lender. Preparing a list of questions to ask the lender during the car loan application process is essential to ensure you understand the terms and conditions of your loan. When applying for an auto loan with poor credit, ask the right questions. Some questions to consider asking to include the following:
    • What are the interest rate and the estimated monthly payment?
    • Are there any prepayment penalties?
    • What is the loan term, and how does it affect the total cost of the loan?
    • Will the lender run a credit check, and what will it entail?
    • What documentation will be required to apply for a bad credit auto loan?
    • How does your payment history impact your loan offer? Make sure you understand the loan contract before signing it. Asking the right questions during the application process allows you to make an informed decision when getting a car loan and helps you avoid any unexpected costs or fees.
  7. Pre-approve for the loan. Getting pre-approved for a car loan gives you an idea of what you can afford and what kind of loan terms, and the interest rate you may be eligible for. When pre-approving for a car loan with poor credit, provide accurate information about your income, expenses, and credit history. This will help the lender determine whether you qualify for a loan and what kind of loan offer you can expect. The pre-approval process typically involves a credit check and verification of your financial information. This information will then be used to estimate loan terms and interest rate. Keep in mind that pre-approval is not a guarantee of loan approval, but it provides valuable insight into your loan options. Being pre-approved for an auto loan may help make the car buying process smoother and more efficient, so consider pre-approval as part of your overall strategy for getting a car loan.

How to get Approved for a Car Loan

There are several options available for people with bad credit scores looking for a car loan. To start the process, you need to decide where to apply for the loan. There are different auto lenders, including banks or credit unions, online lenders, and car dealerships that specialize in bad credit auto loans. Each of these lenders may have different loan terms and conditions, so compare them before making a final decision.

When applying for a car loan with bad credit, be prepared and have all the information on hand. You must provide proof of income, employment, and residence, as well as your bank or credit union information. You'll also need to provide information about your debt-to-income ratio and your credit score. Check your credit history and your credit score before applying, as this can affect your ability to be approved for a loan and the loan amount you may be eligible for.

If you're approved for a loan, the next step is to sign the loan contract and complete the car-buying process. Before signing the loan contract, make sure you know all the terms and conditions of the loan, including the monthly payment amount, the interest rate, and the length of the loan. If you have questions, ask your lender for clarification.

Make a Higher Down Payment

Making a higher down payment on a car loan with bad credit in the US can help lower the interest rate and increase the likelihood of approval.

A higher down payment shows the lender that you can reduce the amount you need to borrow, which can be helpful if you have a lower credit score. With a bad credit history, lenders may be wary of loaning you a large amount of money.

However, if you can make a higher down payment, the lender may see you as a lower risk and be more willing to approve your loan. A higher down payment can also lower your monthly payment and make the loan more affordable.

Make sure you are comfortable with the monthly payment and understand the terms of the loan before making a higher down payment. Consider your budget and financial situation carefully before making this decision.

Co-signed Auto Loans

Getting a co-signed auto loan can be a good option for people with bad credit in the US who want to buy a car.

A co-signer agrees to take on the loan with you and will be responsible for paying the car loan back if you cannot do so. Having a co-signer with a positive credit history can increase the chances of getting approved for a car loan, as lenders look at the credit history of both the borrower and the co-signer.

To get a co-signed auto loan, you will have to find a friend or family member who trusts you and is willing to co-sign the loan. They will also need to have a good credit score and be able to demonstrate a stable income.

Before applying for a co-signed auto loan, carefully consider the risks involved and ensure you have a clear understanding of the responsibilities of each party. If you are unable to make your payments, it can impact the credit score of both you and your co-signer, and if you default on the loan, it can also result in legal consequences.

How an Auto Loan Affects Your Credit

FICO, a credit score model used by many lenders, considers payment history as one of the most important factors in determining a person's credit score. This means that paying an auto loan on time is crucial in maintaining or improving a person's credit score. Therefore, it is important to understand how an auto loan can impact credit and to make payments on time to maintain a good credit history.

By making timely payments and keeping your debt-to-income ratio low, you can use an auto loan to improve your credit score over time. If you have a low credit score, getting a car loan and making timely payments can help demonstrate to other lenders that you are a responsible borrower, which can make it easier for you to get approved for future loans and credit cards.

The size of your loan and the length of the loan term can also impact your credit score, with larger loans and longer terms having a greater impact.

Once you have paid off a car loan, the positive impact it has on your credit score will diminish over time. However, the payment history of the loan will remain on your credit report for seven years, which can still help boost your credit score. By paying off a car loan, you can reduce your debt-to-income ratio, which matters in determining your credit score.

Can you get a car loan with a 500 credit score?

Yes, you can receive a car loan with a 500 credit score, although it may be more difficult and come with higher interest rates. Auto lenders typically have a minimum credit score requirement, but there are also specialized lenders who cater to people with bad credit.

What's the lowest credit score you can get a car loan with?

The lowest credit score to get a car loan is around 550, but this depends on the lender. If your score is lower than 550, you may still get a loan but with higher interest rates, down payment requirements, and shorter loan terms. To improve your chances of receiving a loan, it's best to improve your credit score and have a co-signer with good credit. Shop for and compare offers from multiple lenders to find the best deal for your situation.

Can you buy a car if your credit is bad?

Yes, it is possible to buy a car with bad credit, but it may be more challenging. The lower your credit score, the more your will pay on the interest rate, and the larger down payment will be required. Shop around for the best loan terms and to clearly understand the loan contract. Pre-approval from a lender can be helpful in knowing the loan amount for which you qualify.

Will your bank give you a car loan with bad credit?

A bank or credit union may offer a car loan even for bad credit, but it depends on individual circumstances such as credit history, payment history, and debt-to-income ratio. They may require a higher down payment or interest rate to offset the risk of loan default. It's best to shop around for loan options and consider alternative lenders, such as online lenders or car dealerships that specialize in bad credit financing. Compare loan terms and make informed decisions to ensure a manageable monthly payment and improve the chances of loan approval.
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