With the recent economic downturn, millions of Americans have seen their creditworthiness deteriorate considerably. Unfortunately, these individuals still need to get to and from work and school, meaning they probably can’t survive without a reliable vehicle.
Luckily, there are ways to purchase a car despite the fact that your credit is less than stellar. Here are some suggestions:
- Obtain your credit report. It’s important to know just how “bad” your credit is. So go to myFICO.com to see what your credit score is and get a copy of your credit report. There may even be some errors on the report which you can have removed to improve your score.
- Try to get pre-approved for a loan. Many banks and lenders now serve subprime customers. Apply to two or three banks to see how high of a loan amount you’ll be approved for and what interest rates you will be offered. Being pre-approved for an auto loan gives you a big advantage when shopping for a new vehicle.
- Search for complaints. Before you actually agree to a pre-approved loan, do a little online research into your lender. If you find a long list of complaints about how they do business, consider going with someone else. A few institutions try to take advantage of subprime loan applicants.
- Refinance later. Once you do secure financing, plan on checking into refinancing options later. It’s not uncommon to find a better rate for your auto loan several months down the road. You may want to even mark your calendar well in advance to make sure that you don’t forget to do this.
- Budget your car payments. Now it’s time to take a hard look at all of your bills and monthly expenses to see how much of a car payment you can afford. (There are also online calculators that can factor in loan interest rates.) If you don’t know this figure, you’re liable to purchase a car that’s above your means.
- Compare auto insurance rates. Some cars cost more to insure than others, so it’s important to know this before you begin the actual car-buying process. And it’s always smart to compare auto insurance quotes from several different companies to see if you can save some money (which can be put toward your car payment).