Purchasing a car can help boost your credit score if you consistently make on-time payments. On the other hand, you need fair or better credit to qualify for a car loan.
How can you get the loan you need, then, if your credit is not ideal?
It helps to understand just how important credit is to obtain a car loan and what steps you can take to increase your ability to do so.
Factors Impacting Your Ability To Buy A Car
If you wish to buy a vehicle using a loan, you need to prove to the lender that you are a good credit risk.
In every situation, the lender needs to weigh just how much risk a borrower is based on how likely they are to repay the debt in full. Borrowers who are a very high risk may not qualify for the loan. On the other hand, borrowers that are a lower risk may qualify for a lower interest rate.
When vehicle lenders consider you for an auto loan, they are thinking about the following:
- What do you want to buy – is it worth how much you want to pay for it?
- Do you have previous borrowing experience that shows you are a reliable borrower?
- Do you have the financial means to repay your debt on a monthly basis along with any other debt you have?
It is up to you, then, to show lenders your goals are achievable. Even if you have never obtained a vehicle loan in the past, working with a credit union or other lender is possible if you can show you are a good risk.
Type of vehicle
First, consider the vehicle itself. How does the vehicle play a role in whether or not a lender will give you a loan?
Car loans are secured loans in most cases. If you stop making payments on the loan, the lender will force the sale or repossession of the car. This offers the lender a bit of a safety net. They can sell the car to recoup at least some of the cost of the loan.
For this reason, car loans tend to be a bit easier to qualify for than an unsecured loan, such as a personal loan.
The lender must learn about the actual value of the car. They use a number of tools to determine this including an appraisal of the vehicle. It does not matter what the dealership wants you to pay for the car. The vehicle must be worth that much from a third-party appraisal service.
If the vehicle is worth the amount you wish to buy it for, the lender may approve the loan for you.
The next step is determining if you qualify for a car loan based on your previous borrowing history.
The best way for a lender to know this is to pull a copy of your credit history. This includes all of the accounts you have had in the past. It covers previous car loans, credit cards, any judgments against you, and mortgages. Most lenders use a credit score to determine your qualifications. A score is simply a mathematical representation of your borrowing history.
Poor or no credit history?
Some people have no credit history. Others have a poor record of making payments on time.
If you find that your credit score is limiting your chances of obtaining a loan, there are several things you can do…
- Make on-time payments on all current debts. Doing this for several months increases your dependability. Avoid being late on payments.
- If you have no credit history, consider a secured credit card or a low-fee credit card. Most credit unions and credit card companies offer these to those who have employment.
- Consider paying down some of your debt. The lower your debt to credit limit ratio, the better.
- Don’t apply for too many credit cards or loans in a short period of time. Aim for no more than one or two every few months to a year.
- Get a co-signer for your loan. A person who has a good credit score can help you qualify for a loan. And, in the long term, this can boost your credit score as well.
Gradually work on improving your credit score over time. When you do so, you eliminate the lender’s concerns that your past borrowing habits will translate into a new loan.
Finally, a lender needs to know you have the income necessary to make payments on the vehicle. Even if your credit is fantastic, if you do not have a way to prove to the lender that you have income, then the lender is unlikely to offer you a loan.
More specifically, the lender is looking at your debt to income ratio. How many expenses do you have compared to how much income you have coming in? The lower this total, the more likely you are to have the cash on hand to make payments.
If you do not have steady employment, you may wish to work on this as a first step. Be sure you can prove to your lender that your employment is reliable, too. Paycheck stubs can assist in showing steady employment.
The Role Credit Plays In Car Buying
Each one of these factors plays a role in your ability to obtain a new car loan.
Other factors can do so as well. The interest rate, whether or not you have a down payment, and even if you are buying a new or used car can impact the lender’s decision. Yet, beyond anything else, it comes down to your ability to make payments on a timely basis.
If you are unsure whether you qualify for a car loan, work with your local credit union. They know you and are more likely to lend to you than traditional banks. These loans may even be more affordable than those obtained from other sources.