Cheap, Safe Cars for Bad Credit Borrowers

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Even with poor credit.

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Contributing Writer

Bethany Hickey is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. She is a content writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs, as well as the Poetry Editor for UM-Flint’s writing magazine.


, Contributing Writer - August 25, 2020

Reliability, safety, and cost-effectiveness: all very important things that borrowers of all credit types keep in mind while they’re car shopping. However, finding a reliable vehicle that doesn’t break your budget each month is especially important to bad credit borrowers.

Why Choose a Used Vehicle?

When your credit isn’t the best, it can mean getting turned away from traditional auto lenders, and it may feel like you have to go for a cheaper used car. However, with increased manufacturing quality, used vehicles are holding on to their value longer, and borrowers opting for them range across all credit scores.

As a poor credit buyer, you’ve got to think long-term about your auto loan. You should consider how long you want the car, if it’s safe and reliable, and how much you want to spend on it overall – this includes interest charges. Shoppers with lower credit scores are more likely to be qualified for loans with higher-than-average interest rates. Since most auto loans use simple interest, it means that the more you borrow, the more you’re charged in interest charges.

This is why bad credit borrowers may want to ride the line between reliability and cost-effectiveness, which is something that used vehicles can often offer.

Used Car Study and Top Picks

Thanks to a new IIHS and Consumer Reports study, we now have access to an expansive list of cost-effective used vehicles that can be great for bad credit borrowers looking to get into a good car without breaking the bank.

The study pooled a full list of vehicles that range in selling price between $5,300 and $19,600. The prices are based on Kelley Blue Book valuations of private sales, and on cars with the lowest trim level in good condition.

Like many IIHS studies, it focused on safety ratings, then added affordability to the mix. All vehicles listed earned at least four stars in IIHS crash test ratings.

While there are over 60 picks in the study, we choose our top eight safest picks under $16,000 that could be great car choices for borrowers with less than perfect credit.

Best Safety Picks for Under $16,000

Small car

Midsize car

Small crossover SUVs

Midsize crossover SUVs

Finding a Dealership for Your Credit

As we mentioned, this is our choice for safe, affordable vehicles, but if you want to read the full list, you check it out through our partner’s site, here. If you want to stick to a budget of under $10,000, click here for other top picks.

While perusing through car choices is a good place to start when you’re ready to take on an auto loan, it's sometimes easier if you know you can get financing. For borrowers with bad credit, it can be more difficult to find the lender they need and get into the vehicle that meets their needs. Here at CarsDirect, we want to take the stress out of finding a place to start.

We’re part of a nationwide network of dealerships that are signed up with subprime lenders, or bad credit lenders, and we want to match you to a location in your local area – at no cost. To get started, complete our car loan request form, and we’ll get looking right away. Let us help you drive your way to better credit.

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, Contributing Writer

Bethany Hickey is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. She is a content writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs, as well as the Poetry Editor for UM-Flint’s writing magazine.


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