Have Bad Credit? Car Financing Gets Easier

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Published October 07, 2011

| Bankrate.com

Securing a car loan is getting easier regardless of your financial situation. This even includes car buyers with credit scores in the 500- to 600-point range, according to Experian's second-quarter Automotive Credit Trends Report.

New car loans for car buyers with credit scores below prime jumped 22.4% compared to the same period last year, while car buyers with the worst credit, so-called deep subprime scores, saw the largest increase of 44.1% over the same period. Overall, the average credit score for new car loans dropped by 10 points, while the average credit score for used car loans dropped by eight points.

Since almost half of all consumers have credit scores that are below prime (putting them in the so-called nonprime, subprime and deep subprime categories), that's good news for many car shoppers. Car loan rates are still quite high for this group, ranging from 6.7% to 13.5% on average. In fact, new car shoppers who are deep-subprime consumers -- those with the worst credit and who are now more likely to find financing -- actually have slightly higher interest rates than last year.

Buyers with deep-subprime credit scores have a 13.5% interest rate on average compared to 13.1% for the same time period last year, according to Experian's report. As a result, the average monthly payment for new-car buyers in this credit category is $468, the highest average among all buyers with varying credit, even though they are financing the lowest average amount, just $22,742.

No matter what your credit situation, it still behooves you to wait until your credit score is higher before getting a car loan. Moving up one credit category, which could be just a few points depending on your score, can make a huge difference in your monthly payment. Using Bankrate's auto loan calculator, financing $25,000 (the average amount financed on a new car) over a five-year term (the typical length of a new car loan) would result in monthly payments of $575 for deep-subprime buyers, $533 for subprime buyers and $491 for nonprime buyers, using the current average interest rates from the study.

For used-car buyers in these credit categories, the difference in payments is also dramatic. Financing $17,000 (the average amount financed on a used car) over a five-year term would result in monthly payments of $429 for deep-subprime buyers, $399 for subprime buyers and $359 for nonprime buyers, using the current average interest rates from the study.

With these differences in interest rates, it's smart to work on improving your credit score before you need a car loan. When it's time to buy a new car, be sure to check the latest car loan rates to ensure you are getting the best interest rate possible for your situation.

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If you have a car question, email it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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