What is a Good Credit Score to Buy a Car?

Published on: 4/2/2018. Revised on: 4/2/2018.

If you’re thinking about buying a car, you might be wondering if your current credit score will help you get a good deal—or maybe hold you back. We’ll cover the details here, including what is a good credit score to buy a car, and if you can get a car loan with no credit. Let’s start with a quick review of why your credit score matters.

Borrowing money: Why your credit score is important

When potential lenders need to assess how responsible and reliable you are as a borrower—in other words, how creditworthy you are—they often look at your credit score.

Your credit score is a three-digit number calculated based on the information in your credit report, which includes details about your past and present loans and payment history. There are several companies that offer credit score calculations—like FICO and VantageScore—and each company has several scoring models. As a result, you actually have multiple credit scores.

Your credit score is more than just a number—it can have a meaningful impact on your wallet. If you have a great credit score, lenders are more likely to offer you loans with favorable terms, like a lower interest rate, longer term, and/or larger amount.

What is a good credit score to buy a car?

As with many financial questions, there is no hard-and-fast answer, but there are several important points to consider:

Minimum credit score for car loan

Many lenders have a minimum credit score requirement. If your score is below the lender’s minimum requirement, you might need to explore other options (see below).

Average credit score for car loan

In 2016, Experian reported that buyers had an average VantageScore of 711 for new car loans and 649 for used car loans.

A better score saves you money

Let’s look at an example, using figures from myFico’s loan savings calculator for a $20,000 36-month new car loan.

  Excellent:
720–850
Fair:
620–659
Poor:
500–589
Annual percentage rate (APR) 3.64% 9.79% 15.24%
Monthly payment $587 $643 $696
Total interest paid $1,143 $3,160 $5,044

 

An improvement of 100 points in your credit score from 620 to 720 could vault you into the “excellent” category, saving you more than $2,000 in interest over the life of the loan. If you have a better credit score now than when you initially took out the loan, you might be able to save money by refinancing.

Can you get a car loan with no credit?

We’ve established that having a better credit score can help you secure more favorable loan terms—but what if you have no credit history at all, or a shaky one at best? You still might be able to finance a car by trying the following:

Making a bigger down payment

A bigger down payment means a smaller loan amount, which could increase your chances of getting approved.

Shop for a cheaper car

Another way to shrink the loan amount is to search for a car with a lower sticker price.

Get a co-signer

If someone with better credit is willing to help shoulder the responsibility, you might be able to qualify for a loan. Remember, though, your co-signer and their credit profile could be negatively impacted if you don’t make payments.

To learn more about buying and owning a car, stay tuned to the LendingClub blog. Curious if refinancing could be right for you? Check out our ultimate guide or get a LendingClub rate quote in just two minutes.

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