Less than perfect credit score? Don’t worry, you won’t be relegated to riding a bike to work for  the rest of your life (unless you want to, of course). Buying a car with bad credit is still feasible, if you’re willing to plan ahead and adjust your dream to fit what you can afford. 


For most people, a vehicle is a major purchase for which they’ll need a loan. In order to qualify for that loan, lenders look at your credit score. That number — ranging from 300 to 850 — is based on how much debt you currently have and how well you have paid your bills in the past. 

A score of 600 or less is considered a poor rating. If you’ve ignored cable bills, hoping they’ll somehow vanish into the universe, your credit score will reflect that. Maxing out your credit cards for Fun Friday Froyo runs isn’t doing you any favors, either. Except maybe making you the office hero.

Why does your score matter? Whenever lenders approve a loan, they are rolling the proverbial dice: Will you pay them back? The lower your credit score, the greater the risk. In short, a banker uses this score to decide whether to approve the loan and what the interest rate will be.

Lower Your Loan

Your credit score influences how much a lender is willing to approve, as well. Rather than rely on a hefty loan when buying a car with bad credit, instead make a large down payment. The more you put down, the less you’ll need to borrow. The smaller the loan amount, the more likely it will be approved. In addition, a lower balance means you’ll ultimately pay less in interest — even if the rate is high.

Choose Wisely

Even without a significant down payment, you are more likely to be able to buy a vehicle if you choose one you can afford. The latest model of a popular foreign car may not be a realistic choice right now. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of the market. Set your sights on something in your price range. A previously owned vehicle that is a few years old will cost much less than a new one. Start your search on KSL Cars, where there are thousands of vehicles available for less than $15,000.

Proceed With Caution When Buying a Car With Bad Credit

Budget for the payment you can reasonably manage, taking into account the final price (including taxes and licensing fees), as well as interest. Then shop with a set figure in mind. Even if you are approved for a larger loan than you’d anticipated, don’t bite off a bigger payment than you can chew. Choking while driving is not recommended.

Get Details

Some car dealerships offer in-house financing, which can be helpful when buying a car with bad credit. Keep in mind, it could mean paying higher interest rates and processing fees. There may also be penalties for paying off the loan early. Be sure to read all the fine print so you don’t end up with more debt than you had planned. 

If you are buying privately, you can ask your own bank or credit union for a loan. Another option is Finance With KSL Confidence. Even if you have a poor credit score, Finance works with DealFi to find you the best rate. No taking time off work to shop around. No phone calls. All you need to do is fill out one online application. 

Hold Your Horses

If you can wait a bit, try improving your credit score before applying for a car loan. Do this by paying your bills on time and reducing the balances. Lenders look at how timely you make payments, but they also consider your debt-to-income ratio. Your outstanding balances, including a mortgage, should not exceed 50% of your income. Generally speaking, owing below 35% is ideal. The less you owe on your current bills, the better your score will be.

Consider saving enough to purchase a vehicle with cash. In that case, you won’t need to secure a loan or worry about interest rates. Don’t fret if this isn’t feasible. Making regular payments — by the due date — will actually help improve your credit rating. Then, you’ll be in a better position when it’s time for your next car purchase.

Use Finance with KSL Confidence to secure your interest rate and get prequalified for a loan. Then, find the vehicle you can afford on KSL Cars.


KSL Confidence is rolling out in stages. Protect and Finance are available exclusively in Utah County at this time, but will be available in other geographic regions soon.