Getting a Car Loan With a 600 Credit Score

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Even with poor credit.

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Content Manager

Bethany Hickey is is a Content Manager and Writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs. She's a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. 


, Content Manager - July 21, 2021

Consumers often ask us about the odds of getting approved for a car loan with a 600-credit score, 500-credit score, and so on. However, the truth of the matter is that once your credit score is below 660, you’re in the bad credit domain. It becomes more difficult to get an auto loan with a credit score below that, but not impossible. It also depends on what’s on your credit reports (or what’s not) that’s creating a lower credit score.

Low Credit Scores and Car Loans

For many lenders, the benchmark of a good credit score is at least 661 or higher, which is in the prime category. From 660 to 601 you’re a nonprime borrower; 600 to 501 you’re a subprime borrower; and lower than 500 you’re a deep subprime borrower, according to the national credit bureau Experian.

No matter how you slice it, though, having a credit score below 660 is enough to be called a bad credit borrower, and it could hurt your chances of being eligible for a car loan. The actual information on your credit reports matters, too.

  • Nothing on your credit reports? – If you’re a new borrower that’s never taken on a line of credit, with a credit score below 660, then you’re not likely to be called a “true” bad credit borrower. Having a thin credit file often creates a poor credit score because you have nothing contributing to your credit score. A no credit borrower is likely to be viewed more favorably than borrowers with bad credit from negative marks.
  • Negative marks on your credit reports – If your credit score is poor and you have a few negative marks on your credit reports, such as missed payments or collection accounts, you may be called “high-risk” and struggle to meet the requirements of an auto lender. However, it’s still possible to get approved for a car loan if you can meet the other requirements of a lender, and work with the right lender for your situation.
  • Very poor credit score – If your credit score is at the very end of the spectrum, around 500 or below, then you may need the assistance of a cosigner to qualify for a car loan. If you have severe credit problems such as a vehicle repossession that’s less than a year old or a dismissed bankruptcy, then you may need the assistance of a dealership that skips the credit check.

If you’re in any of the above situations, then there are two main auto lenders to consider if you’re struggling to meet the requirements of traditional auto lenders.

Auto Lenders for Bad Credit Situations

Traditional auto loans from a bank, credit union, or the captive lender of an automaker, historically prefer borrowers with good credit scores. With a credit score below 660, there are two main vehicle financing options worth considering:

Subprime lenders signed up with special finance dealerships

  • If your poor credit is from a lack of credit history, or you’ve had some financial struggles in the past that created a poor credit history, then a subprime car loan may be a good route to take for a vehicle. These lenders can work within many different bad credit circumstances, including a repo that’s over one year old, bankruptcy borrowers, and borrowers with poor credit histories. Your credit score isn’t the only factor of your eligibility, since they consider your living situation, work history, and income.

In-house financing at a BHPH dealership

  • These dealers are also the lender, and many of them skip the credit check entirely. If your credit history is what’s stopping you from getting a car loan with a traditional or subprime lender, then this may be the solution. Since these lenders do everything in-house, many skip the credit pull and rely on your income and down payment size to make their loan decisions.

Both of these options cater to borrowers with credit challenges. However, subprime lenders offer the opportunity for credit repair because their loans are reported. A dealer that doesn’t check your credit reports isn’t likely to report your timely payments on the car loan, so if credit repair is a priority for you, then a subprime lender may be a better route to take.

Improving Your Bad Credit Car Loan Odds

If you’re in need of a bad credit auto loan and not sure where to start, we’re here to help at CarsDirect. We’ve cultivated a nationwide network of special finance dealerships that specialize in credit challenges, and we want to look for one in your local area. Improving your auto loan approval odds starts with finding the right auto lender for your situation, and we want to make that search easier. Start by completing our free auto loan request form, and we’ll get right to work looking for a special finance dealership near you.

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, Content Manager

Bethany Hickey is is a Content Manager and Writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs. She's a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. 


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