What’s a Fair Credit Score?

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Even with poor credit.

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


, - November 28, 2019

A fair credit score is one that’s right in the middle of the FICO credit scoring range. If you have fair credit, you might not be thinking of your credit score the same way lenders are when you’re trying to get a car loan. Let’s take a look at fair credit, and what it actually means during your auto financing journey.

How Lenders Look at Fair Credit

In car buying, it's important to know your credit score when you begin the process, as it's the first thing lenders look at when considering you for an auto loan. Most lenders use the FICO credit scoring model, and there are five possible credit score ranges you could fall into.

Here are the five FICO score ranges, and what each means to lenders:

Credit Score Range Classification What it Means to Lenders
300 - 579 Poor This is considered a high-risk lending tier. Also called deep subprime, lenders are much more careful when extending financing to borrowers in this tier, and may often require large down payments or co-applicants in order to approve them.
580 - 669 Fair This credit score range is seen as medium-high risk. Even though this tier doesn’t bear the “bad” label, scores in this range are still considered subprime. Lenders are likely to charge higher interest rates to borrowers falling into this category.
670 - 739 Good As far as auto lending goes, good is the true halfway point on the scale. Lenders look at this as a medium risk, and, depending on other factors, may or may not offer better interest rates to borrowers in this credit range.
740 - 799 Very Good Lenders consider this credit score range to be low risk, and borrowers tend to get better interest rates.
800 - 850 Excellent This is the lowest risk credit score range, and borrowers that land here get the best interest rates.

As far as credit scores go, fair credit accounts for only about 17% of the population, according to Experian. If you fall into this category, you may worry that you can’t get the credit you need.

Even though fair credit is considered a subprime credit range, you usually don’t have to worry about getting turned down for a car loan. There’s a type of lender that specifically caters to this situation: subprime lenders. These lenders know that your credit score is only one piece of the puzzle.

Getting a Car Loan with Fair Credit

In order to get a loan from a subprime lender, you need to apply through a special finance dealership. Subprime lenders are indirect lenders, meaning they only offer loans through their partner dealers who communicate with them on your behalf.

Because these lenders know that credit scores don’t tell the whole story, they also look at factors such as your income, employment, and residence stability to help determine your auto loan eligibility. In order to qualify for a subprime loan with fair credit, you have to meet certain requirements, which vary from lender to lender.

Even though you’re more likely to qualify for a car loan with a subprime lender, fair credit is still below the national average as far as credit scores go, so you’re probably going to be faced with a higher than average interest rate, as well as down payment requirement.

However, getting a subprime auto loan now gives you the opportunity to raise your credit score with each on-time payment. If it improves enough, you may even qualify for better rates and terms on future loans.

Finding Dealers with the Resources You Need

Fair credit puts you in the running for the car loan you need, as long as you meet the lender requirements. Plus, you may qualify for more vehicle than you think; subprime lenders don’t work exclusively with one type of car over another. Whether you’re looking for a new, used, or certified pre-owned vehicle, what you qualify for comes down to more than just your credit score.

In order to start the process of finding your next auto loan, you need to start with the right dealership. Not all dealers work with the subprime lenders that can help borrowers with fair credit, and those that do aren’t always easy to pick out of the crowd. This is where CarsDirect can help.

We want to connect you to a local dealership that has the lending resources to assist borrowers with bad credit. To begin the journey toward your next car loan, fill out our free and secure auto loan request form.

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


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