Dear Terry,
I would like to replace the car I am driving before the end of the summer. I am currently exploring my options on how to get an auto loan given my financial situation. I am rebuilding my credit after two to three years of having difficulty paying bills and being bombarded with collection calls.

This year, I got a secured credit card (using the
Bankrate listing) to start rebuilding my credit, and I have been paying all my current bills on time. I have had stable employment for about a year now, and will soon get a second job to augment my income.

I obtained my credit score from Equifax a couple of weeks ago, and it is 648. How do I get accurate quotes on the finance rate from creditors without getting many inquiries on my credit report that may lower my credit score? Please give some guidance on how I might proceed.


Isaac

Dear Isaac,
You can check out rates for loans with average or below-average credit scores at a variety of Web sites without having to complete an application. You also should check with your local credit union or bank for their rates. If you accurately report to them what’s on your credit report, there shouldn’t be too much difference between the quote and the actual loan.

Once you decide to apply for a loan, however, don’t submit multiple applications. That could drive down your score.

This week:
Dirt-cheap used car is no bargain
Can I protect my credit score during loan search?
What can I do with my lemon?
How can I buy a car with bad credit?

If you have a question for Terry, e-mail him at
Driving for Dollars. Save money on your car — sign up for Bankrate’s new weekend
Car & Money newsletter