Can I Get a Car Loan with a Credit Freeze or Lock?

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.


, - December 2, 2019

Credit freezes and locks are designed to protect you from identity theft. Your credit score isn’t affected by a lock or freeze, but you can’t apply for new lines of credit – such as an auto loan – until you unlock or unfreeze your credit.

Credit Lock vs. Credit Freeze

Credit locks and credit freezes sound similar, but they’re not the same thing. Before you decide which one you should do, you need to know the key differences between the two.

A credit freeze, sometimes called a security freeze, is the most effective way to prevent people from opening new lines of credit in your name. When you initiate a freeze, the credit bureaus prevent the release of your credit information to anyone without your consent. As of September 2018, credit freezes are free under a federal law which prohibits credit agencies from charging fees for this service.

If you’re wondering what this means for your current lines of credit and credit score, don’t worry. Deciding to freeze your credit doesn’t affect your credit score at all, and you can continue to use your current lines of credit without penalty – as long as you keep making the monthly payments.

A credit lock, on the other hand, prevents people from accessing your credit files. Credit locks typically come with a fee of around $20 a month, and aren’t protected under federal law like a credit freeze. However, it’s easier to lock and unlock an account since the power is in your hands.

How to Improve Your Credit Score with a Lock or Freeze

If you’re looking to apply for a car loan and you’ve initiated a credit lock or freeze, you need to be aware that you can’t apply for a new line of credit until you unlock or unfreeze your credit file, since these actions mean lenders can’t access your credit information.

Most lenders look at your FICO credit score, which means the fastest way to raise your credit score is to pay all your bills on time each month. If you do this, you should see your score improve.

Plus, if you keep your credit card balances below 30% of your credit card limits, it can give your credit score an even bigger boost. This can help raise your approval odds if your credit isn’t so great and you need an auto loan soon.

Looking for a Car Loan?

If identity theft is a concern, locking or freezing your credit could be a good way to give you some peace of mind. However, it can get in the way if you want to open new lines of credit. If you did perform one of these actions, make sure you unlock or unfreeze your credit before you apply for financing.

If you haven’t locked or frozen your credit yet and are looking for a bad credit car loan, we want to help. At CarsDirect, we work with a nationwide network of special finance dealerships that have the lending resources you're looking for.

Skip driving all over town looking for financing, and fill out our free, no-obligation auto loan request form instead. Once you do, we'll get to work matching you with a local dealer. Don't delay, get started today!

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.


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