What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a Car?

March 14, 2022

Should you’re planning to purchase a brand new automotive, you’ll most certainly want an auto mortgage to assist pay for it. With the common value of a brand new automobile exceeding $47,000 in the present day,1 the nice majority of consumers in the US do.2 Whether or not you apply for a mortgage by the dealership or at a financial institution, the lender will run a credit score examine on you as a part of the method. Right here’s what credit score rating you’ll must be authorized for a automotive mortgage—and what you are able to do in case your credit score is lower than excellent.


  • Your credit score rating is a significant component in whether or not you may be authorized for a automotive mortgage.
  • Some lenders use specialised credit score scores, equivalent to a FICO Auto Rating.
  • Normally, you may want at the very least prime credit score, which means a credit score rating of 661 or up, to get a mortgage at rate of interest.
  • When you have poorer credit score, you possibly can nonetheless get a mortgage, however you’ll in all probability must pay extra for it or else discover a cosigner.

What Credit score Scores Do Auto Lenders Use? 

You don’t have only one credit score rating, however a number of of them. The scoring fashions use the identical fundamental info out of your credit score experiences however weigh sure elements in another way. The 2 main scoring fashions are:

  • FICO. The perfect-known and most generally used scoring firm. FICO scores vary from 300 to 850.3
  • VantageScore. A more recent competitor to FICO. Although earlier variations of the VantageScore ranged from 501 to 990, the newest VantageScore goes from 300 to 850, the identical as FICO does.4

The most important scoring fashions may present extra specialised scores for specific functions. For instance, FICO provides the FICO Auto Rating, an industry-specific credit score rating meant for auto lenders. The FICO Auto Rating makes use of a distinct weighting system from different FICO scores, with credit score utilization having an even bigger influence and remoted late funds—equivalent to a one-off mistake—having a lesser one. To additional complicate issues, there are a number of variations of the FICO Auto Rating.5Many automotive dealerships depend on a FICO Auto Rating, however not all do. Should you’re undecided and are curious, ask your lender which scores they examine earlier than consenting to a credit score examine.

What Is the Minimal Rating Wanted to Purchase a Automobile?

When lenders evaluate your auto mortgage software, they take a look at your revenue and credit score rating. Lenders divide prospects into classes based mostly on their scores, equivalent to:7

  • Tremendous prime: 781 to 850
  • Prime: 661 to 780
  • Nonprime: 601 to 660
  • Subprime: 501 to 600
  • Deep subprime: 300 to 500

Normally, lenders search for debtors within the prime vary or higher, so you will want a rating of 661 or larger to qualify for many standard automotive loans.

How one can Purchase a Automobile With a Poor Credit score Rating 

In case your rating is beneath the prime vary, you should still be capable to get an auto loan—however it might be more durable to acquire and costlier. Listed below are three choices for financing a automotive when you’ve got honest or poor credit score:

1. Be prepared to pay a better rate of interest

When you have poor credit score, lenders see you as a riskier applicant. You could possibly get a automotive mortgage, however you may probably pay a a lot larger rate of interest than somebody with good or wonderful credit score will.  For instance, the common rate of interest for prime debtors buying new automobiles was 2.47% in 2020. For nonprime debtors, the speed was 6.07%, whereas for deep subprime debtors, it was 12.53%.8 That larger price can add considerably to your whole mortgage value. For instance, for those who financed $37,000 with a four-year mortgage at 2.47% curiosity, you’d have an $810 month-to-month fee and would pay $1,895.93 in whole curiosity. However for those who financed that very same quantity and solely certified for a four-year mortgage at 12.53% curiosity, your fee would soar to $984 per thirty days. And also you’d pay $10,232 in whole curiosity—a distinction of $8,336.07.

The Higher Your Credit score Rating, the Decrease Your Curiosity Fee
 Prime Borrower Nonprime Borrower  Deep Subprime Borrower
Mortgage Quantity $37,000 $37,000 $37,000
Mortgage Time period  48 Months  48 Months  48 Months
Curiosity Fee 2.47% 6.07% 12.53%
Month-to-month Cost $810 $870 $984
Complete Curiosity $1,896 $4,766 $10,232
Complete Repaid $38,896 $41,766 $47,232

2. Go to a vendor that makes a speciality of consumers with poor credit score

Should you can not qualify for a mortgage at a conventional dealership, you could possibly get financing from one that makes a speciality of consumers with poor credit score. Sometimes marketed as purchase right here, pay right here dealerships, they provide in-house financing for used automobiles.  Nevertheless, these sellers are inclined to cost very excessive rates of interest to offset the chance of lending to debtors with decrease scores. In 2020, the common rate of interest provided by unbiased sellers to deep subprime debtors was about 150 foundation factors larger than these provided by franchise lenders.9

3. Apply for a mortgage with a cosigner

In case your rating is within the nonprime to deep subprime vary, you may think about making use of for a automotive mortgage with a cosigner. A cosigner is somebody, equivalent to a member of the family, who’s prepared to use for a mortgage with you and, ideally, has good to wonderful credit score. A cosigner shares accountability for the mortgage, lowering the lender’s danger. You’re extra prone to qualify for a mortgage and get a decrease rate of interest than for those who utilized by yourself. However for those who’re unable to make the mortgage funds, your cosigner might be caught with the invoice.10 Should you store for a mortgage earlier than you store for a automotive, you may have a greater thought of how a lot you possibly can afford to spend.

The Backside Line

Whether or not you’re in search of a brand new automotive or a used one, your credit score rating performs an enormous position in your financing choices, so it is value figuring out the place you stand. You may get your credit score rating totally free from some bank card corporations and on-line sources. Earlier than heading to the dealership, it is also a good suggestion to acquire auto mortgage quotes from a number of banks and credit score unions. That may provide help to discover the most effective mortgage deal and provide you with some further leverage in bargaining with the vendor. It may additionally provide help to determine how a lot you possibly can afford to spend on a automotive.

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