Bad credit doesn't mean you can't buy a car, and doesn't automatically mean you can't get a car loan with terms that don't break your monthly budget.
Like everything else, "bad" is a matter of opinion and degree. If the score is borderline, some lenders might still smell a good prospect while others, with slightly different criteria, would see more risk.
Most important: Shop around. "Some car loans are being made at 18 (percent) and 20 percent," says Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com. "You don't want to have the attitude of 'just get me a loan.' There are still deals to be made."
It's also a good time to be looking, says Jack Tracey, the executive director of the National Automotive Finance Association. Credit is loosening up and, for borrowers searching for a nonprime auto loan, "It's become easier than it was earlier this year and late last year," he says. "The economy is improving, and some of the financing sources are coming back into the market."
Here are nine strategies to help you find the best subprime auto loan:
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