How Long Do You Have to Have a Job for to Get a Car Loan?

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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.

, - April 17, 2019

If you have bad credit and need an auto loan, you should be aware of the basic requirements you need to meet – one of which is showing proof of your income and employment. Subprime lenders like to see an employment history of at least six months with your current employer and a three-year work history, but it doesn’t stop there.

Job and Income Requirements for a Car Loan

Now that you know how long you need to have a job to qualify for a car loan, what else do you need in terms of income? Although the amount varies, subprime lenders typically require a minimum income of between $1,500 and $2,000 a month before taxes from a single source.

To prove your income for a bad credit auto loan, bring in a copy of your most recent computer-generated pay stub showing year-to-date earnings. If you’re not a regular W-2 employee but are an independent contractor or self-employed, you generally need to bring in copies of your most recent tax returns – usually going back two or three years.

If you have more than one job, a subprime lender is going to look at the job with the highest income – you can’t add a second income to meet the minimum requirement. However, a subprime lender typically considers additional income when calculating your debt to income and payment to income ratios, so an additional job can help you qualify in this regard.

Other Requirements for a Subprime Car Loan

Because subprime lenders look at factors outside of your credit score to approve you, they need further documentation that proves you’re capable of handling an auto loan, including:

  • Proof of identity – Your driver’s license to make sure you are who you say you are.
  • Down payment – The amount required varies, but lenders generally ask for a down payment of at least $1,000 or 10 percent of the vehicle’s selling price, whichever is less. You can use trade-in equity, cash, or a combination of both.
  • Proof of residence – A utility bill from the past 30 days, in your name, showing the address listed on the application.
  • Proof of phone – A recent phone bill from a national carrier in your name. It can be a cell phone or landline, but prepaid cell phones aren’t accepted.

Depending on the lender, they may ask for a cosigner, too. You can read up on cosigner requirements and frequently asked questions here if you’re considering having a cosigner on your car loan.

The Bottom Line

Your employment history is just one of many factors subprime lenders look at to determine an approval, and that’s why it’s important you make sure you’re prepared before you head to a dealership. Have all documents ready, and make sure all the information is correct on your loan application.

If you have all the paperwork you need, but can’t find a dealer to work with, we’ve got you covered. At CarsDirect, we can help you find a dealership in your area that has the lending resources available to handle all types of credit situations. With our help, you don't have to drive from dealer to dealer hoping they have a lender you can work with.

Our process is simple, free, and doesn’t put you under any obligation. To get connected to a dealership near you, fill out our auto loan request form and we'll get to work for you!


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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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