Who Can Be a Cosigner on a Car Loan?

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Bethany Hickey 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 - April 15, 2020

Having a cosigner on a car loan can be a great advantage. Here, we go over the common requirements from lenders when it comes to cosigners, and the specifics about who you can ask to be your cosigner.

How a Cosigner Helps You

When you’re thinking about who to ask to cosign on your next auto loan, the biggest requirement you need to keep in mind is credit. A cosigner has to have a good credit score. This is key, because a cosigner basically “lends” you their good credit score to help your chances of approval.

Your cosigner must have a higher score than you. Depending on the lender and who you ask, the answer varies on what a “good” credit score is, but most agree that it’s at least 670 or above. Any lower than that, and your cosigner is in the subprime credit score range. A cosigner with a subprime credit score isn’t likely to help you get approved for a loan.

Lenders vary in their credit score requirements, but the main requirement of a cosigner is they’re someone with a solid credit history. A cosigner’s purpose is to give the lender confidence that the loan can be repaid.

Who Can Be a Cosigner on a Car Loan?

As to who can be the cosigner, most borrowers ask a family member or a friend. Cosigning a loan is a big responsibility and can pose a lot of risks for the cosigner, so be sure to ask nicely!

Along with your cosigner having a good credit score, your cosigner also needs to be a U.S. citizen. However, they don’t generally need to live in the same state as you, and they can also share your address. However, if you and the potential cosigner are married, your spouse is a co-borrower instead of a cosigner.

A cosigner also needs to meet the income requirements, as well. If you, the primary borrower, are unable to make payments, the cosigner serves as the backup payer. This means they need to have enough disposable income to cover your payments in the event you can’t.

If you or the cosigner can’t make the monthly loan payment, both of you risk negative marks on your credit reports.

Risks for the Cosigner

Whoever ends up being your cosigner, you should let them know what they’re signing on for.

If you’re unable to make the car payments and you default on the loan, this is reflected on your credit reports as well as the cosigner’s. And since the cosigner’s name doesn’t appear on the vehicle’s title, they have no rights to the car – even if they have to start making payments on it.

It’s also important to note that although your cosigner is the backup payer on the loan, it doesn’t mean they’re there to help you with payments each month. As the primary borrower, your income has to meet the requirements of the lender.

In other words, you’re responsible for making the payments each month without the cosigner’s help. And if you start missing them, or have multiple late payments, it'll be reflected on your and the cosigner's credit reports – lowering both of your credit scores.

However, if you keep up with your monthly loan payment and complete the loan, it helps both your and the cosigner's credit reports. If you find a prospective cosigner, give them confidence that you can complete the auto loan and make timely payments – their good credit score is on the line!

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Once you find a cosigner that’s willing to lend you their good credit, it can really help improve your chances of getting approved. If your credit score is really low, some lenders may even require that you find a cosigner before they consider you for approval.

However, if you’re unable to find a cosigner, there are lenders that work with bad credit borrowers. These are called subprime lenders, and they work through dealerships with special finance departments. And we know where they are.

At CarsDirect, you can look at new and used vehicles completely online, and we can help you get connected to a dealer with a special finance department near you. To get matched to a local dealership, simply fill out our free car loan request form.


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, Content Manager

Bethany Hickey 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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