How to Get Approved for a Car Loan with Bad Credit

How to Get Approved for a Car Loan with Bad Credit

Having bad credit can make it challenging to secure a car loan, but it’s not impossible. Many car dealers and lenders understand that credit scores don’t tell the whole story, and they are willing to work with individuals who have had financial setbacks. In this article, we will provide you with bad credit auto loan tips on how to get approved for a car loan with bad credit, empowering you to buy a car with bad credit.

Know your credit situation:

Start by obtaining a copy of your credit report from one of the major credit bureaus. Review it thoroughly to ensure its accuracy and identify any areas that need improvement. Understanding your credit score and history will give you an idea of where you stand and what you can expect from lenders.

Set a realistic budget:

Before applying for a car loan, evaluate your financial situation and determine how much you can afford based on income or salary. Consider factors such as your monthly income, existing debts, and living expenses. Setting a realistic budget will help you choose a car that fits your financial capabilities and increases your chances of loan approval.

Save for a down payment:

The recommended down payment varies by credit score. Saving for a down payment demonstrates financial responsibility and reduces the amount you need to borrow. Lenders are more likely to approve a loan when you contribute a significant down payment. Aim for at least 20% of the car’s purchase price to maximize your chances of approval. It should be noted that new car rebates count as cash down payment. For that reason some of the best cars for bad credit are new vehicles with cash rebates.

Improve your credit score:

While it may take time, improving your credit score can significantly enhance your chances of securing a car loan. Start by paying your bills on time, reducing your existing debt, and addressing any outstanding collections or judgments. Each positive step you take toward rebuilding your credit will work in your favor when applying for a loan.

Research dealers that work with bad credit:

Not all dealers are the same when it comes to working with individuals with bad credit. Research different dealers and third party referral services like Auto Credit Express. The goal is to find those who specialize in providing car loans to borrowers with less-than-perfect credit.  These dealers understand your situation and are more likely to consider your application.  Additionally, finding the right dealer the first time will limit inquiries on you credit report.

Get pre-approved:

Consider getting pre-approved for a car loan before visiting a dealership. Pre-approval provides you with a clear idea of the loan amount you qualify for and the interest rate you can expect. It also gives you negotiating power when discussing loan terms with the dealership.

Consider a co-signer or a co-borrower:

If your credit score is extremely low or you’re having trouble getting approved on your own, consider having a co-signer, with good credit, on the car loan. Their positive credit history can strengthen your loan application and improve your chances of approval. However, keep in mind that the co-signer or co-borrower assumes equal responsibility for repaying the loan.

Be prepared for higher interest rates:

Bad credit car loans often come with higher interest rates compared to loans offered to individuals with good credit. Be prepared for this reality and calculate the long-term cost of the loan before committing. Consider refinancing in the future once your credit score improves to secure a lower interest rate.

At the end of the first quarter 2023 the average rate of interest for a new or used car based on credit score are listed below.

RatingScore*New RateUsed RateMax Term
Great Credit781-8505.18%6.79%75
Good Credit661-7806.4%8.75%75
Fair Credit601-6608.86%13.28%72
Poor Credit501-60011.53%18.55%72
Bad Credit300-50014.08%21.32%72
No Score019.95%25%72
*Source: Experian Q1 2023

Wrapping It Up

Getting approved for a car loan with bad credit requires a proactive approach and careful planning. By understanding your credit situation, setting a realistic budget, saving for a down payment, and researching lenders, you can increase your chances of approval. Remember to focus on improving your credit score over time to secure better loan terms in the future. With perseverance and the right strategy, you can successfully obtain a car loan, even with bad credit. Since we previously addressed trading in a car with bad credit and negative equity we did not address that in this post. offers accurate estimates of new and used car loan payments based on self-selected credit score, current rebates, down payment, and trade equity or negative equity, without customers having to provide their personal identifying information such as email and phone.

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