How can a student snag a car loan?

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Dear Driving for Dollars,
I am a full-time student, and I have no credit. I would like to buy a car, but I’m worried I’ll be faced with a ridiculously high car loan rate. My parents aren’t around to co-sign a car loan. Can I get a car loan through a bank, or do I need to get financing through one of those secondary companies that cater to people with bad credit?
— Bri

Dear Bri,
You mentioned you are a full-time student. Hopefully, your regular activities include a job with a steady paycheck or some source of income. To get an auto loan, any lender is going to want to see that you’ll be able to make the monthly payments.

Assuming you have an income source, you should be able to get an auto loan through a conventional lender. Some banks, credit unions and even automaker finance arms offer loans to first-time borrowers, especially when they are students. Still, you may need to find someone you trust and who trusts you to co-sign for the car loan to get the best interest rate. Start by talking to banks or credit unions where you currently have accounts.

If getting a co-signer isn’t an option and you can wait a bit before buying a car, work on establishing your credit by getting a credit card with a low limit and paying it off every month. Saving up money for a down payment also will demonstrate financial responsibility to lenders, not to mention it will lower your monthly payment, so you’re not financing a larger portion of your car loan.

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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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