Are you afraid to go shopping for a car because of the embarrassment you may face at the very real possibility of being turned down due to bad credit? If this is you, you're not alone. More than ever before, millions are faced with bad credit right now.
What you need right now is a little "credit score infusion". Your score needs to be high enough so you can qualify for that auto loan you so desperately need.
I Can't Wait Months To Increase My Credit Score! I totally understand. In today's world an auto is a necessity. If you're lucky enough to still have a job right now, you gotta have a car to get to work. If you've been laid off or just can't find a job, you need a car to go look for a job. You need to pick up your kids from daycare, you need to go to the grocery store (jeez...nothing worse than trying to lug 6 grocery bags a mile down the road...) Whatever the issue is, you won't get far without wheels, so here's a few tips you can use to infuse your credit score immediately".
What's A Good Score For An Auto Loan? Different lenders have different criteria in relation to what they deem to be a "good" score. Really, what it all boils down to is "What interest rate am I going to have to pay?" You can still probably find a lender who will give you a car loan with a credit score of 580, but you're going to pay a really high interest rate for it. Get yourself bumped up to over 600 and better yet, over 620, and you have a few more options, but the rate you're going to pay is still not going to be pleasant. If you have scores in the range of 650 to 680, interest rates are going to be decent. Get yourself over 700 and you've got shopping power baby!
So, Where Do I Get My Credit Score? There are many scoring models out there, so don't be fooled. There can be a 50 to 100 point difference from one credit scoring agency to another, so your best bet is to stick with your FICO Score. This score is derived by Equifax and is the credit score that most lenders use, so you can be pretty confident with the score you receive.
You can get your FICO credit score for $9.95 if you sign up for their Score Watch program. This is the quickest way to get your score, and a great way to monitor how it's going to shoot up after I teach you a few tricks later in this article. If you do not wish to sign up for this free trial, then you can access all three of your credit reports for free, but you will then have to pay around $7 to $10 to purchase your score from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You can only do this once a year for free, and in my book Surviving Your Credit Meltdown, I walk you through an 8 Step System to erase negative marks off your credit, so you might want to save the one chance you have this year, until after you read the book. (You can still apply my system if you've already accessed annualcreditreport.com once this year, but you'll have to do it all through snail mail.)
o Maybe you don't have enough income to qualify for that Ferrari you wanted......(yeah, probably not...) Yet, the loan officer will be able to advise you how much you can qualify for, as long as this is your only issue.
o If you're turned down because of your score, you can ask what is the minimum score they require to get approved. This will tell you whether or not you're going to need sub-prime financing or not.
What If I Can't Qualify For A Bank Car Loan? If you're not "bankable" just yet, don't worry...there are still lenders out there that will give you a loan, but the rate isn't going to be as pretty. I'd first ask the loan officer at the bank if they have anyone they'd recommend to refer you to. You can also do a search on the net for "bad credit auto loans" and you'll get a slew of links to click on. Some of these sites will search multiple lenders for you and could save you some time. If you like a more personal approach, you can look in your local yellow pages for "finance companies", like Household Finance or American General. Word of caution here though, finance companies usually carry much higher rates, so be sure to shop around.
What If The Payments Aren't Affordable? Most people worry about whether or not they'll be able to make the monthly payments on a loan without taking into account the loan's term, total interest paid, and loan origination fees or pre-payment penalties.
Generally, the lowest rates on auto loans are available on short-term loans, from 12 to 36 months, which mean a large monthly payment but lower amounts of interest. Longer-term loans often come with higher interest rates. When you calculate the total price of your new vehicle, include the interest costs over the years. If it seems like too much for you, try to renegotiate the interest rate, offer a larger down payment, or shorten the term of the loan.