Car Loans and Credit Scores: What You Need To Know

Car Loans and Credit Scores: What You Need To Know

So you want to buy a car? Then you need to know how to get approved for a car loan! Specifically, how your credit score will affect whether you’ll be approved or not. These days, lenders can have a lot of rules and standards that you’ll need to meet if you want to be approved for a loan.

These are post-recession times and lenders have stricter guidelines. So, how will you know if you’ll be approved or not? Here are some questions that you might have and their answers:

How Do Lenders Decide If They Want to Approve my Application?

The auto industry uses more than your traditional FICO score when it comes to reviewing your application. Just looking at your score isn’t enough.

Lenders rely on “FICO Auto Score”. This model is used throughout the auto industry when it comes to purchasing a car. Here’s another way to think about it:

Your FICO score that you hear about everyday paints the entire picture of your creditworthiness. The FICO Auto Score only completes a picture of whether or not you’re likely to pay back an auto loan. The scoring ranges for your FICO Auto Score is also different (it ranges from 250-900). So what are some factors that go into your FICO Auto Score?

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  • Are your credit cards steadily decreasing or increasing every month?
  • Are you only making minimum payments or more than minimum payments?
  • How is your credit utilization trending over time?

Your credit score and how high it is will have a huge impact on whether you can get the loan or not. Otherwise, the other important aspects are your income and how much debt you already have. The lenders will look at your history, and see how responsible you are. They need to know if your income can truly sustain your car loan payments on top of any other debt that you may already have. They also need to know if you can afford to pay for every expense for the car, so they may even check to see if you can afford car insurance too.

What can I do to Improve my chances?

The first thing to do is to evaluate what your maximum purchase price is going to be. Always stay within your budget and don’t get upsold at the car dealership. In fact, car salesmen are notoriously known to be the best salesmen out there. You can use an online car payment calculator to figure out your estimated monthly payment. From there, play around with the initial down payment amount to see how that changes your payment.

Next, do everything you can to improve your credit score. We used an example of how a 2.5% interest rate increase can add up to thousands of dollars in interest. To improve your score, try to pay down your debts as much as possible since your debt to income ratio is the single most important factor when it comes to your credit score. Even if you need to hold off on purchasing your car for a few more months, it might still be worth it considering how much interest you can save.

Remember, cars are one of the fastest depreciating assets you can own. On average, as soon as you drive your car off the lot, your car immediately loses approximately 11% in value. Purchasing a new car should be looked at carefully to ensure it fits your budget.

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