When you’ve got less than perfect credit, going for a used car is a smarter decision than seeking that brand-new vehicle. Not to mention, used cars are becoming the preferred choice for borrowers across the credit score spectrum.
Used Cars Becoming More Popular
You don’t have to settle for the clunker in the back of a used vehicle lot – but now may not be the time to finance the most expensive car, either. When you’re struggling with poor credit, reliability and good loan terms should be at the front of your mind.
More specifically, you should choose a reliable vehicle that’s going to last, and one that you can comfortably afford each month without breaking the bank. It seems obvious, everyone wants a reliable car! But one of the main goals you should focus on with your bad credit auto loan is repairing your credit for future purchases.
Not only does having a high credit score improve your chances of getting approved for new credit later, it can also save you money. Having a good credit score means a higher chance of qualifying for the lowest interest rates and the best car loan deals offered.
However, you have to start somewhere. And a reliable used vehicle with a bad credit auto loan could be the ticket.
Recently, even good credit borrowers are increasingly going for used cars. The data shows used vehicle purchases are on the rise across all credit scores. While everyone was locked indoors during statewide shutdowns due to COVID-19, dealers began shifting their focus from new cars to used ones, and they’ve started showcasing their certified pre-owned vehicles.
Worried About Getting a Used Vehicle? Try a CPO Car
If a used car seems risky to you, check out a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle. A CPO auto loan can be seen as the middle ground between new and used, and it can be a good option for borrowers who want a newer car without the hefty price tag.
CPO vehicles are inspected by a manufacturer-certified mechanic, cleaned, and come with some type of warranty. Many CPO cars are also just coming off-lease, and usually have lower mileage. Since a CPO’s selling price is generally cheaper than financing a brand-new one, borrowers who are looking for reliability are starting to turn toward the certified option for the most bang for their buck.
If you work with a bad credit auto lender (or subprime lender) and you qualify for financing, you may be able to get into a CPO vehicle. Subprime lenders operate through a dealership’s special finance department, so bad credit borrowers who meet the requirements could qualify.
In general, CPOs tend to be more expensive than regular used cars, since they come with more perks. If you don’t quite meet the requirements of a CPO vehicle, opting for a used car is still a smarter financial choice for borrowers with questionable credit scores.
Subprime Lenders and Improved Approval Chances
When you apply with a bad credit auto lender, they determine what monthly payment you qualify for based on your individual information. This is done by looking at many aspects of your credit and financial life: credit history, income, living situation, expenses, overall stability as a borrower, and more.
Once the subprime lenders determine how much vehicle you can afford, they tell the dealer. You then work together to find a car that fits the monthly payment you qualify for. Getting your monthly payment to a lower amount can be easy if you simply extend the loan term, but you should choose a used vehicle that’s reliable, while keeping your loan term as short as you can.
After you narrow down some car choices, you’re going to need a down payment. This can vary, but subprime lenders typically require borrowers to have at least $1,000 or 10% of the vehicle’s selling price. The more expensive the car, chances are, the more you’re going to have to put down to get into that vehicle. Poor credit borrowers are usually required to put money down to prove to the lender that they’ve got skin in the game, and down payments improve your chances of getting approved.
Meeting the down payment requirement gets easier when you go for a cheaper car – another reason why many bad credit borrowers opt for used vehicles. On top of all this, bad credit borrowers are more likely to get approved for used cars anyway, due to the lower sticker price.
Repairing Your Credit With an Auto Loan
If you work with a subprime lender, the auto loan itself could give you the chance to repair your credit. Subprime car loans are reported to the credit agencies, and with on-time payments, you can rebuild your credit. However, if you go for a long auto loan or one with high payments, you could be putting yourself in the hot seat, and risk damaging your credit.
Since borrowers with lower credit scores don’t normally qualify for the lowest interest rates, you could also end up paying more for that expensive new vehicle than what it’s actually worth.
Car loans almost always use simple interest, which means the charges stack up daily. The more you owe and the longer you owe, the more you pay in interest charges. Some bad credit borrowers find themselves with double-digit interest rates, which can end up being very expensive on a loan for a new vehicle.
Additionally, due to the higher selling price of new cars, many borrowers find themselves stretching their auto loan terms to the max, taking out 84-month loans, or sometimes higher, just to afford the monthly payment. Again, long loan terms can spell disaster for a bad credit borrower who’s more likely to only qualify for a high interest rate.
Not to mention, who wants to be stuck with a monthly payment for eight or more years for the same vehicle? Shorter loan terms save you more in interest charges, and a cheaper car means a lower monthly payment, too.
Ready to Find Your Next Used Vehicle?
Overall, a bad credit borrower needs to choose a sensible vehicle that’s reasonably priced, and go for auto loan terms that they can afford long term. Car loans are big commitments, often between five to sometimes eight years long. If you go for a new vehicle with a high monthly payment that rides the edge of your budget, you could end up damaging your credit if something happens. Focus on repairing your credit now, so you can save more cash and qualify for better deals later. Credit repair is a long-term game – play wisely!
If you’re ready to get into your next auto loan, start your car shopping journey right now with Auto Credit Express. We’ve got a nationwide network of dealerships with special finance departments that are equipped to work with bad credit borrowers. To get matched to a dealer in your local area at no cost, complete our auto loan request form.