If you are looking for a new car or truck, you are probably excited to choose the model, paint job, and all the accessories that come with the vehicle. However, your ability to finance the vehicle is just as important, if not more important, than all the interesting details and add-ons.
Most people choose to buy a new car or truck through financing, which is the process of paying off a vehicle with loan installments. Financially, this is a much more manageable method of vehicle ownership than paying for a vehicle in a giant lump sum of thousands of dollars.
You can get a car or truck loan directly through a dealer of your choice; through a bank, or through an individual. Each payment method carries inherent risks and rewards (for example, loan rates through banks may be higher, but you may not have a legal recourse in case there is a problem with a private or family loan) . Before deciding on a type of loan, these risks and rewards must be carefully weighed.
For many Americans, however, the biggest risk factor in buying a new vehicle is whether they will actually be eligible for the loan in the first place. A person’s credit score determines his creditworthiness; This number will tell the lender whether or not that person will make reliable payments on your car or truck. The lower your credit score, the lower your chances of getting an affordable loan. In fact, some people with especially bad credit scores may find that they have trouble getting a loan in the first place.
What is a credit score and how does it affect your ability to obtain a new car or truck loan?
Kenneth Elliot wrote in the March 21, 2008 issue of the American Chronicle, “…[T]The FICO score continues to be a primary tool for lenders. It may not determine the final decision, but it definitely influences the ‘first cut’ when a pile of requests is submitted to approve or disapprove. “
FICO is the name of the consulting firm that developed standards for calculating credit scores, Fair Isaac Corporation. The FICO score rubric is the most commonly used method of determining a person’s credit worthiness. In the United States, credit reporting agencies or credit reporters look at a person’s financial past (debts, loans, utility bill payments, previous car or mortgage loans, etc.) to determine if it represents a good credit risk. A FICO score ranges from 300 to 850. 850 is the highest possible credit score; people with high scores have little or no problem obtaining loans. In contrast, credit scores near the lower end of the FICO score range indicate people who are high-risk borrowers; These people often have great difficulty managing their debts.
CNN Money reports that the average American has more than $ 9,000 in credit card debt. Late or missed credit card payments are one of the biggest factors lowering individual credit scores. Many people spend more money than they actually make and are drawn to the appeal of credit-based purchases, which at first seem like easy money. People with a high debt-to-income ratio may not be able to pay monthly credit card payments. After a few months of late or missed payments, a person may find their credit score surprisingly low.
The FICO credit score is determined by a sum of factors. Each factor in a person’s credit history receives a different weight in the final assessment of their financial situation. When determining a credit score, the highest importance is given to the person’s bill and debt payment history (is it on time or perpetually in arrears?) AND the total amount of debt they have. Less important, but still contributing to the final credit score, are the length of a person’s credit history; the types of debts you have and the frequency with which you have applied for new credit. People who make on-time bill payments, who have established a long credit history, and who have demonstrated compelling debt management skills often have the best credit scores.
Before you are eligible for a car or truck loan, you will be asked to provide the lender of your choice, be it the car dealer, bank, or individual, certain information about yourself. The required information may include complete contact information; a social security number; details about your mortgage or apartment rental and employment records. The lending institution will release your information to one of three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. The credit reporting agency uses the FICO algorithm to determine your credit score.
If your credit score is less than stellar, don’t despair. You may still be able to finance a new vehicle. Remember, you always have two options when it comes to comparing a bad credit score to strict auto or truck loan terms. You can work to improve that score, or you can find lenders who are willing to work with you. However, if your credit score is good, then you are a preferred borrower and will likely be able to borrow at attractive (ie low) interest rates. Go out there and get a loan for a new car or truck!