What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car?

A credit score of 660 or more can get you a car loan with a reasonable interest rate, but if it’s lower, you might still be able to qualify. Read this guide to learn the credit scores needed to buy a car.
Written by Jacoba Bood
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
If you have a credit score of 660 or more, you should qualify for a car loan with a good interest rate. And if your score is lower, you still have options.
If you’re looking for a
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Here’s what you need to know about how your credit score factors into buying a car.
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What credit score do you need to buy a car?

660 is the credit score number to shoot for if you want to secure a reasonable interest rate that is around or below 6%.
If you are considering a new car, your credit will probably need to be higher to lock down the same 6% interest rate. Likewise, your credit score should be about 721 if you want to secure a 6% new car loan. And it should be about 657 if you want to secure a 6% used car loan.
If you don’t have perfect credit, don’t let these numbers discourage you.
There is no such thing as a minimum acceptable credit score, and car dealers want to sell cars. Most people will still be able to buy a car regardless of their credit score. However, if you have a low credit score, you will probably pay a higher interest rate on your car loan.
annual percentage rate
(APR) differences listed below may not seem significant, but they will add up over time, especially when dealing with a longer-term loan.
Key Takeaway Although it depends on what kind of car you’re buying and your interest rate, you should be able to get approved for a car loan if your credit score is above 660.

Average APR rates for new and used cars by credit score ranking

Credit score category
New cars (APR %)
Used cars (APR %)
300-500 (Deep Subprime)
501-600 (Subprime)
601-660 (Nonprime)
661-780 (Prime)
781-850 (Superprime)

Checking your credit score

Auto loan lenders will generally choose from one of three main credit-scoring models: VantageScore, FICO, or FICO Auto Scores.
These credit scoring models use different formulas for your credit score. The exact number will probably differ slightly from system to system.
You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three national credit reporting bureaus–Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion–once every 12 months.
You can also use third-party apps like
Credit Karma
to track your credit score. If you want a snapshot of a score that puts more weight on the way that you pay back car loans, consider purchasing your FICO Auto Scores directly through their website.
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Can you buy a car with a credit score is under 700?

People with credit scores under 700 can (and do!) get car loans, but you might have some explaining to do. Lenders will typically ask you to explain some of the negative entries on your scorecard.
Generally speaking, people with lower credit scores should prepare to accept higher APR rates and longer loan terms than people with good credit.
You can get a better loan if you can demonstrate a consistent income at a job than someone who can't demonstrate a consistent income. The more reliable you are, the better loan offers you'll receive.

How to get a car loan with your credit score

Taking some time to get everything in order before you apply for a loan will help you improve your chances of getting the terms you want.

Make sure your credit report is accurate

Credit reporting bureaus make mistakes, so carefully scan through your report before heading into the loan office. Be sure to dispute any misplaced dings beforehand so you don’t end up having to explain faults in your report during the meeting.

Document your payments

The proof is in the pudding. It is a good idea to thoroughly document any on-time payments you make in the six months previous. Keep track of everything from cell phone bill receipts to credit card payments and bring them in with you to your loan meeting.
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Come prepared

Having everything in order will make it easier to issue a loan and improve your chances of getting accepted. Ensure you show up to your meeting with all the relevant documentation that you need to have. This includes cell phone bills, pay stubs, proof of residence, and
proof of full coverage car insurance
. You're then ready to negotiate some deals with your lender.
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Key takeaway To increase your chances of getting a good loan, get proof of your ability to pay bills on time and gather other related documents such as proof of insurance prior to your meeting.

Tips to improve your credit

Here are some tips to increase your credit score (so you can decrease your car payments):
Keep your credit card balance low: Maintaining a low balance on your credit card and paying it off completely every month is an effective way to build up your credit.
Stay on top of bill payments: Another simple way to build up your credit is to pay your bills on time. When a bill goes past due, it will have a negative effect on your score.
Avoid other credit applications: When you apply for credit, your credit number will be docked. As a general rule, it is a good idea to avoid any other credit applications for at least six months before applying for a car loan.
Use your car loan to build your credit: Maintaining a car loan can be a great way to build up your credit. Even if you get stuck with a higher-rate loan, you might be able to
it after 6 - 12 months if you make all your payments on time.
If you are working to build your credit, you obviously don’t want to be paying more on your car insurance than you have to.
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Comparison shopping is the most effective and efficient way to make sure you’re getting the best refinanced auto loan, regardless of your credit score.
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What should your credit score be to buy a car?

660 is a good credit score to aim for if you want to buy a car. A credit score over 700 will be even better. If you're close to either of those scores, it could be worth waiting until your credit score improves a little bit before you buy a car.

Can I get a car loan with a 650 credit score?

Yes, you can get a car loan with a 650 credit score. However, lenders will consider that you are closer to a poor credit score rating, so you'll have higher APR and the length of your loan might be longer.
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