How To Refinance Your Car Loan When You Have Bad Credit

If you’re dealing with a high-interest car loan that’s taking a toll on your finances, you’re not alone. Automobile costs are near an all-time high, and Generation Z and millennial borrowers today have auto loan delinquency rates that are significantly higher than before the pandemic.

With that in mind, many people are looking into the practice of refinancing a car loan. You may be wondering whether it makes sense to consider it, even with bad credit. Let’s delve into the world of car loan refinancing and explore your options.

How do you refinance your car loan when you have bad credit?

Refinancing a car loan with poor credit isn’t that different from buying a car with bad credit. It requires a strategic approach. These steps can inform you about the process:

Review your credit report. Obtain a copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Review the report thoroughly, checking for any errors or inaccuracies that could be negatively impacting your score. Dispute any discrepancies you find to ensure your credit report reflects accurate information. You can request your report for free once a year from

Research lenders. Look for lenders who specialize in working with subprime credit customers. Online lenders, credit unions and community banks may offer more flexible options.

Gather documentation. Prepare necessary documents, such as proof of income, proof of residence and your current car loan details.

Consider a co-signer. Having a co-signer with good credit can increase your chances of getting approved for a refinancing loan with better terms.

Negotiate. Look into multiple lenders and compare their offers. Negotiate to get the loan amount and best possible loan rates and repayment terms to suit your financial needs.

Read the fine print. Before finalizing any auto loan refinance agreement, carefully read and understand the terms and conditions of the new loan (along with any FAQs) to avoid hidden fees or surprises.

What does it mean to refinance a car loan?

Car loan refinancing is a financial strategy that allows you to replace your existing auto loan with a new one, ideally with better terms and a lower rate. The new loan pays off your original loan balance and is repaid according to the new loan’s terms. By doing so, you may be able to lower your monthly payments, reduce the overall cost of your loan, or adjust the loan term to better suit your current financial situation.

Can you refinance a car loan with bad credit?

Many people can refinance a car loan with bad credit, but it may depend on your overall situation. While it may be more challenging to refinance a car loan with bad credit, it’s not impossible. There are a number of lenders and financial institutions that specialize in offering second chances to subprime credit customers. Refinancing with bad credit may come with a higher annual percentage rate than those available to customers with excellent credit, but it can still be a viable option to improve your financial situation.

What is the minimum credit score needed to refinance an auto loan?

Different lenders will have different qualification standards, but there is no specific credit score requirement to receive approval. You should compare refinance lenders and look for their eligibility requirements. Some lenders may allow you to complete a shorter loan application to see if you prequalify. It should be noted that prequalification doesn’t always guarantee approval, however.

How can I improve my credit to refinance an auto loan?

If you have a low credit score, you should work toward improving your creditworthiness to increase your chances of securing the best auto refinancing deal. Here are some strategies to consider:

Pay your bills on time. Your payment history plays a crucial role in determining your credit score. Consistently making on-time payments for all your bills, including credit cards, utilities, and existing loans, demonstrates responsible financial behavior and can positively influence your credit score over time. If you need help paying your bills, look for financial assistance programs that you might be able to take advantage of.

Reduce credit card balances. Do you have too much credit card debt? High credit card balances relative to your credit limit can negatively impact your credit utilization ratio, a significant factor in your credit score calculation. Aim to keep your credit card balances below 30% of your available credit limit, which may help improve your score.

Manage new credit accounts. Usually, when you apply for credit from traditional sources such as credit card companies or banks, it generates a hard credit inquiry on your credit report. This can temporarily lower your credit score. Minimize new credit applications or look for lenders that conduct soft credit checks to avoid unnecessary dings on your credit report.

Consider a secured credit card. If you’re struggling to qualify for a traditional credit card, a secured credit card might be a viable option. With a secured card, you make a cash deposit as collateral, which typically becomes your credit limit. Responsible use of a secured card can help build or rebuild your credit history.

Become an authorized user. Ask a family member or friend with good credit to add you as an authorized user on their credit card. If they have a history of responsible credit usage, their positive credit behavior may reflect on your credit report as well.

Be patient and persistent. Improving your credit score takes time and consistent effort. Be patient and stay committed to practicing good financial habits. Over time, your credit score should gradually improve, making it easier to qualify for a better loan offer and the best rates.

When should you consider refinancing a car loan?

Auto loan refinancing depends on your situation, and can be a smart move under certain circumstances:

Improved credit score. If your credit score has improved since you obtained your current loan, you might qualify for more refinancing options and better interest rates.

Lower interest rates. If prevailing interest rates have decreased significantly, refinancing can help you secure a loan with a lower interest rate, reducing your overall payments.

Change in financial situation. If your financial situation has changed, and you need to lower your monthly payments or extend the loan term to make it more affordable, refinancing can help.

What are the benefits of car loan refinancing?

Refinancing your car loan can offer several advantages, including:

Lower monthly payments. By securing a loan with better terms, you can reduce your loan payments, freeing up more cash for other expenses.

Savings on interest. A lower interest rate means you’ll usually pay less over the life of the loan, saving you money in the long run.

Improved credit score. Timely car payments on your new loan can positively impact your FICO score if the lender reports your loan activity, helping you rebuild your credit.

Flexible loan terms. Refinancing may allow you to adjust the loan term to better fit your current financial situation and goals. With a longer term, you will generally have a lower monthly payment.

What types of loans can be used to refinance a car loan?

While there are a number of loan options available for different consumer needs, refinances are usually designed for installment loans. That is, a loan where the money is issued by a lender up front and then repaid by the borrower in installments over several months (or more commonly years). Many personal loans are designed this way, which is why it’s one of the most popular forms of financing.

Where should you go to refinance your car loan?

When looking to refinance your car loan with bad credit, you may want to consider other lenders in addition to your car dealership:

Online lenders. Various online funding providers cater to subprime credit customers, making the application process convenient and accessible.

Credit unions. Credit unions often offer competitive rates and personalized service, particularly for their members.

Community banks. Smaller community banks may be more willing to work with you, taking a more personalized approach to your financial situation.

The Bottom Line

Don’t let bad credit hold you back from exploring the possibility of refinancing your current auto loan. With careful research, preparation, and negotiation, you may be able to find a lender who understands your unique circumstances and is willing to provide you with a new loan that improves your financial outlook.

DISCLAIMER: This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as advice. NetCredit and its affiliates do not provide financial, legal, investment or tax advice.

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