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Bad Credit

20 Credit Cards for Bad Credit (2020)

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Many consumers with low credit scores want to own credit cards for bad credit to help them manage their finances. Here are our top 20 picks representing the best balance between costs and benefits for consumers seeking the right credit card.

Use the links below to navigate to the card type you’re interested in:

Unsecured | Secured | Business | Store | Prepaid
How to Apply | FAQs

An unsecured credit card is what most people think of as a regular credit card. Most credit cards are unsecured, meaning you don’t have to put up any collateral to get an unsecured credit card.

As you can see, many unsecured cards are available to you, even if you have bad credit.

  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7

See website for Details

N/A

25.90% – 29.99%

See website for Details

Bad, Poor Credit

The Surge Mastercard® is an unsecured credit card that is a great option for anyone with less-than-perfect credit. You’ll have to provide some personal information to prequalify, including your Social Security number, whether you have an active checking account, whether you intend to use the card for cash advances, and the amount and primary source of your monthly income.

This unsecured credit card provides $0 fraud liability protection and the potential for earning a credit limit increase when you make your first six monthly payments on time.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.7

  • Pre-qualifying today will not affect your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit histories can qualify, even with prior bankruptcy!
  • Mobile friendly online access from anywhere
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.

N/A

N/A

24.9%

$0 – $99

Fair/Good

The Indigo® Unsecured Mastercard® – Prior Bankruptcy is Okay markets to consumers who have an imperfect credit rating. You can quickly enter information to prequalify for the card, and you’ll receive an approval decision within a minute.

Your credit rating determines your annual fee. You may select from a roster of five card designs for free. If Indigo can’t match you to one of its cards, it may recommend you apply to a selected credit card from another issuer.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.5

  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.

  • *Dependent on credit worthiness

N/A

N/A

24.9%

$35 – $99

Bad, Poor Credit

The Milestone® Mastercard® – Less Than Perfect Credit Considered makes the application process easy by allowing you to prequalify for this subprime credit card by entering just a few data items. Unlike some of its competitors, this card does not charge one-time or monthly fees, although you will be billed an annual fee that is based on your creditworthiness.

The card also waives the cash advance fee for the first year. You get ID theft and liability protection at no extra charge.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.5

  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine Visa credit card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus

N/A

N/A

See Terms

See Terms

Fair, Bad Credit

The Total Visa® Card is the less-than-perfect credit card for consumers with less-than-perfect credit. To get and use this card, be prepared to pay a one-time program fee, an annual fee, and starting in year two, a monthly servicing fee, and a cash advance fee.

You may be offered a credit line boost after the first year, but, you guessed it, you’ll be charged a fee based on the increased amount. On the plus side, you can get this card even if you have really bad credit.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.4

  • Pre-qualify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.

N/A

N/A

24.9%

$0 – $99

Bad, Poor Credit

The Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit is part of the Indigo® card trio available to consumers with bad credit. It’s not clear which one you’ll be offered until you prequalify and apply for the card.

The major difference distinguishing the three cards is how much you’ll pay in annual fees, which depends on your credit profile. The card charges no initial or monthly processing fees, and cash advances don’t trigger a fee during the first year.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.3

  • Checking Account Required
  • Reporting monthly to all three major credit reporting agencies
  • Perfect credit not required for approval; we may approve you when others won’t
  • Easy and secure online application
  • $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • The First Access Visa Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.

N/A

N/A

See Terms

See Terms

Bad Credit

You can apply for a First Access Visa® Card and receive a decision in a minute or less. But before you rush in, make sure you understand that you’ll pay an initial program fee and an annual fee, as well as cash advance, credit line increase, and monthly servicing fees after the first year.

You can select a card from a palette of six designs that includes a kitty cat, an American flag, and a sunflower.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.3

  • Seeing if you Pre-Qualify is fast, easy, and secure
  • Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchase, terms apply
  • Rewards post automatically to your account each month
  • Automatic reviews for credit line increase opportunities
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Pick a card that fits your style. Multiple card designs are available, a fee may apply

N/A

N/A

17.99% to 23.99% Variable

$0 – $99

Poor

The Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards is the only card in this review that offers cash back rewards. The card lets you customize your notifications, reminders, and alerts.

It also gives you free online access to your Experian credit score and allows you to choose your monthly payment due date. An annual fee may apply, depending on your creditworthiness.

Secured credit cards require you to deposit cash into a locked account as collateral. In return, you can expect fees and rates lower than those for similar unsecured cards.

SECURED RATING

★★★★

4.0

  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.

N/A

N/A

17.39% (variable)

$35

Poor

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card lets you choose your credit line by requiring a matching security deposit. Unlike some other secured credit cards, you don’t need to have a bank account to get this card. But don’t worry, your deposit will be FDIC-insured.

This card doesn’t subject you to a credit check, making it a great choice if you’ve got a really low credit score. This secured credit card charges a relatively low annual fee.

SECURED RATING

★★★★

3.9

  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 — $2,000 Submitted with Application
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI *See Card Terms.
  • Apply in just a few moments with no negative impact to your credit score; no credit inquiry will be recorded in your credit bureau file

N/A

N/A

9.99% (V)

$49

Bad / No Credit

Would you pay a few extra dollars in an annual fee to get the lowest APR and cash advance fee in this merry trio of First Progress cards? If the answer is yes, go for the First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card.

If you regularly stretch out your payments over several months, the money you save on interest could easily dwarf the small increment of an annual fee. All three cards are easy to obtain, just fork over your security deposit, and you’re good to go.

SECURED RATING

★★★★

3.8

  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application
  • Full-Feature Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI *See Card Terms.

N/A

N/A

19.99% (V)

$29

Poor/Limited/No Credit

If every dollar you spend on annual fees pains you, choose The First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card from this trio of cards because it has the lowest annual fee among the lot. However, be prepared to pay the highest APR and cash advance fee in the group.

If you regularly pay off your balance and seldom take cash advances, this is the First Progress card that may suit you best.

SECURED RATING

★★★★

3.8

  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!

N/A

N/A

13.99% (V)

$39

Poor/Limited/No Credit

If the First Progress trio of credit cards were the three bowls of porridge in front of Goldilocks, the First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card would be the one that’s “just right.” That’s because its APR, cash advance fee, and annual fee are intermediate among those offered by the other two cards.

As with the other two, this card doesn’t check your credit score or history when you apply.

There is no reason why you can’t own a business credit card just because you have bad credit. The three business cards reviewed here are all secured, so don’t fret about those old credit problems.

SECURED RATING

★★★★

4.0

  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.

N/A

N/A

17.39% (variable)

$35

Poor

It takes only five minutes to negotiate the four-step application process for the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card. If you are new to the world of credit, you’ll be heartened to know that 99% of the holders of this card were able to build their credit scores within six months.

As a true Visa® card, you get several benefits, including fraud protection and worldwide acceptance.

13. Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card allows you to establish a credit line of between $500 and $25,000 by depositing an equivalent security amount. The card offers cash back rewards and $0 liability protection while charging a relatively small annual fee.

You can get up to 10 employee cards for free and receive spending reports online. The card charges no foreign transaction fee.

14. BBVA Compass Business Secured Visa® Card

BBVA Secured Visa® Business Credit Card

The BBVA Compass Business Secured Visa® Card is available in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas. You can get the card with a minimum opening deposit of $500, with 90% available as credit.

The annual fee is waived for the first year, and employee cards are free. You get online account services such as employee expense tracking, bills payment, downloadable past account statements, and integration with accounting software.

Store credit cards are among the easiest unsecured cards to obtain, even with poor credit. You can use them for purchases at the issuing store and its affiliates.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.3

  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card

N/A

N/A

See Issuers Website

$0

Poor Credit

The Fingerhut Credit Account lets you charge purchases from the Fingerhut online marketplace. The account is a good way to build or rebuild your credit, as it reports your activity to the three major credit bureaus.

Even if you don’t qualify for the account, Fingerhut may approve you for its Fresh Start Installment Loan. The credit account charges no annual fee and frequently offers special promotions.

16. Amazon.com Store Card

Amazon.com Store Card

The Amazon.com Store Card lets you charge items when you shop online at Amazon.com. You must have an Amazon account to get this card. If you happen to be an Amazon Prime Member, you’ll also get 5% cash back on your orders.

However, you can substitute promotional financing for cash back on eligible purchases, thereby letting you avoid interest if you pay off the balance during the promotional period. The card charges no annual fee.

17. Target RedCard™

Target RedCard™

If you shop at Target, you really should own a Target RedCard™, as it saves you 5% on your in-store and online purchases (10% on your anniversary). You get free shipping on most online items, an additional 30 days to return items, and access to exclusive special offers.

And if you need a little pick-me-up while shopping, you can use your card at the in-store Starbucks and save 5%.

Prepaid credit cards are more like a replenishable debit card. You can spend as much money as you load onto the card at any place that accepts Visa (for Netspend) or Mastercard (for PayPal) debit cards.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.6

  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click “Get My Card ” for full details.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.

N/A

N/A

N/A

Up-to $9.95 monthly

Not applicable

The NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card likes to say no to its customers: No minimum balance, no credit check, no activation fee. And it says yes to nifty features like mobile check load, in which you take a few pictures on your cellphone to load checks onto your card.

You can customize your card with a family photo or other image, and you can receive Anytime Alerts™ for activity notifications.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.4

  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click “Get My Card” for full details.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.

N/A

N/A

N/A

Variable Monthly Fee

Not applicable

This NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card offers the Pay-As-You-Go Plan, in which you pay a transaction fee for each purchase, or a flat-fee Monthly Plan. You can cut that monthly fee in half if the account receives at least $500 in direct deposits for at least one month.

Another available option is Purchase Cushion, which can give you up to $10 of overdraft protection.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.4

  • Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
  • Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.

N/A

N/A

N/A

Variable Monthly Fee

Not applicable

If you use PayPal to send and receive money, you’ll enjoy the convenience of transferring money to load your PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®. And speaking of convenience, you can reload your card at more than 130,000 locations in the U.S.

In addition, cardholders can open a free, no-minimum-balance savings account at Bancorp Bank. The card is available in red, blue, plum, or white.

If your credit is bad, you can assume that credit card issuers will be cautious when they receive your application. In fact, issuers of unsecured cards may ask you to prequalify first, which is a good deal for you because it doesn’t require a hard pull (i.e., an inquiry that can reduce your credit score) of your credit report, which occurs when you apply after prequalifying.

You’ll have to cough up some personal information when you ask for prequalification, including items like your income sources, how much you bring home each month, and other responses to nosy questions. The full application may go on to inquire about your housing costs and other debts. Some cards require a minimum credit score, others don’t.

If you are intent on getting an unsecured card rather than a secured one, expect to pay high fees and a high interest rate, while being restricted to a low credit limit (frequently $300 less any upfront fees).

Sometimes, you can improve your credit score just enough to allow you to qualify for an unsecured card. Here are some tips to boost your score quickly:

  • Check your credit reports for any errors. You can get a free credit report from each major credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can contact a credit bureau to request the removal of incorrect information that may be depressing your score. Or you can hire a credit repair company whose professionals scour your credit reports for errors.
  • Pay down any existing debts. The less you owe, the more capacity you have to take on new credit.
  • Pay your bills on time, unfailingly. A credit card company likes to see that you have a responsible attitude toward your debt.
  • Find a cosigner. A card issuer will like a cosigner, especially one who has good credit, because cosigners are on the hook if you miss payments.
  • Consider becoming an authorized user instead. As an authorized user of someone else’s card, you get to charge items without the primary obligation to repay. Of course, stiffing the card owner is a great way to ruin a relationship.

If it’s impossible to qualify for an unsecured card, consider a secured or prepaid one. The card issuer for these types of cards requires upfront cash but generally charges less in fees and interest. Best of all, the credit card company issuing this card doesn’t check your credit.

You have questions, we have answers. With a name like CardRates.com, we keep our fingers on the pulse of the market for all types of credit cards.

What is a Credit Card for Bad Credit?

A credit card for bad credit is one geared toward folks with a bad credit score looking to build credit. According to Experian, FICO scores (which run between 300 and 850) below 670 are “bad.”

This range consists of “fair” (580 – 669) and “poor” (300 -579) scores. If you have a low credit score that is in this range, you’ve experienced some financial problems in the past.

FICO Score® Ranges

The unsecured cards reviewed here understand that your creditworthiness is in question. Nonetheless, they are willing to accept many consumers with bad credit, albeit at a steep price.

Look for these cards to impose several substantial fees, although they may waive some fees for the first year. Additionally, credit lines on these cards are tight, often $300 minus any upfront fees.

Alternatively, you may want to start with a store credit card. These unsecured cards are easy to get and seldom charge fees. They are a good way to build credit if you don’t have any, or to start repairing a bad credit score. Unfortunately, their range is limited to shopping at the issuing stores and their affiliates.

Naturally, the best way to reduce the cost of credit is to raise your credit score. But until you can do so, you may want to consider a secured or prepaid credit card, as these don’t care about your financial history.

However, bear in mind that a prepaid card isn’t building credit because it does not report to the credit bureaus.

What Credit Score Do I Need to Get a Credit Card?

Strictly speaking, there is no minimum credit score required to obtain a credit card, but low scores drastically reduce the number of cards eligible to you. Secured and prepaid cards don’t check credit scores, so they are available to anyone with the money for a cash deposit.

However, prepaid cards won’t build your credit score, whereas secured cards are a great tool to establish or build credit. If you’re new to credit and don’t have a score yet, a secured card may be your best bet.

The gateway unsecured cards in this review, led by the top-rated Surge Mastercard® subprime card, allow you to prequalify before you apply, meaning that they will not do a hard credit pull unless you are considered eligible to apply.

In other words, you have nothing to lose by submitting the prequalification questionnaire, even if your score is 300. You’ll find with these cards that sometimes a verifiable income outweighs a low score.

We call these cards “gateway” because they can get you started on the road to a higher credit score through their reporting to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). By paying on time, you can slowly climb Score Mountain and trade up to a less expensive, more rewarding credit card.

What is the Easiest Store Credit Card to Get?

All three of the reviewed store cards are easy to get, but the Fingerhut Credit Account is the easiest. This account provides a limited amount of credit to shop at a Fingerhut online store or affiliate.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.3

  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card

N/A

N/A

See Issuers Website

$0

Poor Credit

Although the account doesn’t charge an annual fee, it can wallop you with hefty late and returned payment fees.

The account has a couple of provisions to help you qualify even with bad credit. The first is that Fingerhut may ask you for a down payment to qualify for the Credit Account.

Alternatively, Fingerhut may approve you for a FreshStart Installment Loan instead of the Credit Account. To get the loan, you must order at least $50 in goods and make a $30 down payment. You then make up to six monthly payments to retire your balance, after which you may graduate to the Credit Account.

Here’s a tip: Don’t pay off the installment loan right away. Fingerhut prefers to see at least one monthly payment to consider you for the Credit Account. Also, make sure you don’t make any late payments because that will derail your efforts to obtain the Credit Account.

If you are a fan of Amazon but you have bad credit, you may want to consider the secured Amazon.com Credit Builder Card. Like all Amazon credit cards, this one is issued by Synchrony Bank. Because it is a secured card, it is easier to obtain than is the Amazon.com Store Card.

The Credit Builder Card comes in both regular and Prime versions, both of which can serve as the gateway to the unsecured Amazon.com Store Card. In fact, Synchrony Bank will start considering you for an upgrade to an unsecured card as soon as seven months after you open a Credit Builder account.

To qualify for the upgrade, your credit score must be acceptable to the bank, you must pay your Amazon bill on time each month, and you must pay on time all your other bills during the period. The bank will also confirm that you haven’t had any recent collections, delinquencies, repossessions, bankruptcies, or foreclosures.

If you receive an upgrade to the Amazon.com Store Card, your security deposit will be refunded, and your new account number will be placed in your Amazon Wallet. Since the upgrade will not require a new hard pull of your credit history, your credit score will not suffer.

If you are already a Prime member or are considering becoming one, remember that you get 5% cash back on all your Amazon purchases made on the card.

Which Credit Cards Give You Instant Approval?

Virtually all the credit cards in this review will let you know your approval status online within minutes. However, only the prepaid cards provide guaranteed approval. That’s not surprising since you are depositing money with the issuer to cover your purchases.

The NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card rates highest among the prepaid cards, due to its flexible fee structure. You can pay as you go, which tacks on a small fee with each use of the card.

Alternatively, you can pay a fixed monthly charge for unlimited use of the card. Furthermore, arrange just one direct deposit of $500 or more to the card and your monthly fee will be sliced in half from that point forward.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★

4.6

  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click “Get My Card ” for full details.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.

N/A

N/A

N/A

Up-to $9.95 monthly

Not applicable

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® is a good choice if you regularly use PayPal to transfer money. Many freelancers use PayPal to get paid for their work, and as the proportion of workers increasingly tips toward the self-employed, expect PayPal and its prepaid card to only gain in popularity.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★

4.4

  • Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
  • Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.

N/A

N/A

N/A

Variable Monthly Fee

Not applicable

Prepaid cards offer some nice benefits. They look just like regular credit cards, don’t require you to have a bank account, and won’t ever hit you with an overdraft fee since you can only spend up to the card balance.

Secured credit cards are likely to provide instant approval, but you must wait until the issuer receives your security deposit before you are sent the card. And when you do receive approval, you’ll normally have to wait until the physical card shows up in your mailbox. That can keep you waiting a week or more.

If you’d like to start using the account sooner, you have a couple of options. For example, you can see whether the issuer will expedite shipping, either free or for a fee. That can cut your wait down to as little as overnight.

Another way to get shopping sooner is for the issuer to provide you with a virtual card number. This is a temporary number, unrelated to your actual card number, that you can use for online shopping as soon as you receive it.

Most cards will cancel the virtual number once you register the newly received credit card. However, you might find an issuer or third-party service, such as Privacy, that offers permanent virtual numbers.

With multiple virtual credit card numbers, you can limit each number to a particular merchant, time period, and/or spending limit. By doing so, you’ll limit the damage should a hacker steal the number.

Will I Need to Provide a Security Deposit?

Secured cards require a security deposit, while unsecured cards don’t. Typically, the size of the deposit is at least as much as the card’s credit limit, sometimes more, sometimes less.

The credit limit on our top pick, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, is equal to 100% of your security deposit. The deposit goes into a non-interest-bearing FDIC-insured account, where it remains until you close the account and repay the balance.

As with most secured cards, this one doesn’t subject you to a credit check or demand you have a bank account. The annual fee is relatively modest.

Don’t confuse a secured card with a prepaid card. With a secured card, your deposit isn’t touched unless you miss a payment, in which case the card issuer will subtract the required amount from your deposit. If you close the account, the issuer returns the deposit, minus any unpaid balance, to you.

Secured Credit Card vs Debit Card vs Prepaid Card

You must also put up-front money into a prepaid card, but that’s the money you spend when you make purchases with the card. You must replenish the prepaid card’s balance to continue using it.

What Will My Credit Limit Be?

The unsecured cards in this review typically start you off with a small, $300 credit limit. But most of them subtract any upfront fee first. The store credit cards also put tight limits on your credit limit, based on your creditworthiness.

Note that some unsecured cards will automatically evaluate your credit limit after the first year. But beware, the First Access Visa® Card is among those that charge a fee for the higher limit.

Your credit limit on secured cards is no more than the security deposit and may be less. For instance, the credit limit on your BBVA Compass Business Secured Visa® Card is but 90% of your security deposit.

There is no credit limit on a prepaid card because the card offers no credit. Your spending limit is set to the amount you deposit, up to the maximum amount allowed.

What is Credit Utilization?

Credit utilization refers to how much of the credit available to you that you use. The credit utilization ratio (CUR) is equal to the outstanding balance on your credit accounts divided by the sum of the credit limits on those accounts.

For example, if your total credit limit is $5,000 and you currently owe $2,000 solely in credit card debt, then your CUR is ($2,000 / $5,000), or 40%.

CUR is important for a couple of reasons:

  • A high CUR indicates to lenders that you may be in financial distress. That would make it harder for you to obtain additional credit.
  • Amounts owed, as measured by CUR, is one of the five factors that determine your FICO credit score. In fact, it is responsible for 30% of your score. Your score goes down when your CUR rises above a certain threshold (typically 30%).

If you are looking to access new credit or to increase your credit limit, you should first calculate your CUR. If the result is higher than 30%, pay down your balances before applying for the additional credit.

Can I Do a Balance Transfer If I Have Poor Credit?

A balance transfer allows you to perform a credit card consolidation encompassing the balances of several credit cards. Many cards offer this feature.

In fact, when you get a new card, you may be entitled to a promotional period of 0% interest on balance transfers (but a fee applies for each transfer, usually 3%).

However, credit cards targeted to consumers with poor credit generally do not offer balance transfers, much less 0% promotions. You might be able to simulate a partial balance transfer in the form of a cash advance. That is, you might be able to take a cash advance from Card A to pay off the balance on Card B, effectively transferring the balance from B to A.

How to Make a Cash Advance with a Credit Card

But for the bad credit unsecured cards in this review, cash advances are subject to strict limits.

For example, the Total Visa® Card only allows cash advances if your account has been open for three completed billing cycles, is not past due, and you have available credit for cash advances. The card further restricts your total advanced cash to no more than one-half of your current credit limit.

Debt consolidation through balance transfers allows you to reduce the number of credit card payments you make each month. This allows you to concentrate on paying down the card that receives the transfers without having to satisfy multiple minimum payments during the month.

Naturally, this strategy only makes sense if you don’t reuse your other credit cards while paying down the consolidated balance. That sort of behavior will only land you in greater debt.

How Can I Build Credit Using a Credit Card?

All the reviewed credit cards, except for the prepaid ones, report your payment activity to one or more of the three major credit bureaus. These reports build your credit history and help the credit bureaus calculate your credit score.

To build your credit, you must demonstrate creditworthy behavior, and you can use your credit cards in this regard.

FICO Credit Score Factors

The most important component of your credit profile is your payment history, which comprises 35% of your FICO score. Here the advice is elementary: Pay your credit card bills on time.

It’s better to make the minimum payment on time than to make a larger payment late. You will severely hurt your score if your credit card balance is delinquent by more than 90 days or if it goes into collection.

Thirty percent of your FICO score stems from amounts owed. Your credit card balances are an important part of your total debt. Don’t let the amount you owe exceed 30% of the total credit available to you. If it’s higher, pay down your cards and other debts.

Another 15% of your score represents the length of your credit history — the longer the better. Therefore, do not close your credit card accounts simply because you no longer use the card.

Place your obsolete cards somewhere safe and let them molder quietly. Better yet, pull one out occasionally and use it — FICO looks at how long it’s been since you last used it.

Taking on too much new credit can hurt your score. In fact, new credit makes up 10% of your FICO score.

To protect your score, don’t apply for or open many new accounts too rapidly. Numerous hard inquiries in the previous 12 months can hurt your score (although not if you are rate shopping for a specific loan).

Finally, 10% of your FICO score rests on having a wide credit mix. So, if you have only student loan debt and/or a mortgage, getting a credit card may raise your score a bit.

Whatever your credit score, it’s important that you fix your credit reports to remove costly mistakes. We’ve mentioned how you can get your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com, When you receive your reports, carefully inspect them for mistakes and omitted information.

According to a study by the Federal Trade Commission, 26% of those surveyed reported at least one derogatory mistake on their credit reports, If you find any mistakes, you can dispute incorrect information or supply missing information by contacting the credit bureau.

Look for common errors. For example, credit reports often conflate your information with that of persons with a similar name.

Other frequent errors include missing accounts, transcription errors, wrong account numbers, double entries, and bad debts from more than seven years ago. If you’ve closed an account on your own initiative, ensure the report doesn’t say the account was “closed by grantor,” which makes it appear that the account was closed by the creditor.

To fix errors, you need to contact both the organization that supplied the inaccurate information and the credit bureau. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires these parties to correct mistaken information. The Act gives you certain rights, including:

  • The right to receive copies of your credit reports containing all the information on file as of the time of your request. You furthermore have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report within 60 days of being denied credit due to information provided by the credit bureau.
  • The right to know who received your credit report in the last 12 to 24 months.
  • For denied credit applications, you have the right to know the name and address of the credit bureau that the creditor contacted.
  • The right to demand that the creditor and the credit bureau investigate the dispute.
  • You have the right to add short explanations to your credit report explaining your side of the story regarding disputes that were not resolved in your favor.

While once, you had to correct errors through formal written communication, nowadays you can initiate credit disputes online via special webpages at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

To begin the dispute process, clearly identify the information you believe to be incorrect. The credit bureaus then have 30 days to investigate each item, although they can ignore disputes they deem to be “frivolous.”

Attach copies of relevant documents that back up your claim. Specifically request that the credit bureau correct or delete the disputed information.

If you prefer, you can mail the information to the credit bureau. Make sure you use certified mail and request a return receipt. Always keep copies of all correspondence and documents.

An internet search will quickly turn up websites that provide sample dispute letters you can use as templates for your own correspondence. Also, write to the creditor or information provider responsible for the inaccurate entries on your credit report. You should request that the creditor send you a copy of any correspondence between the creditor and the credit bureau regarding your dispute.

The goal of all this effort is to remove inaccuracies that hurt your credit score. However, even if the dispute is resolved in your favor, you may not see a boost to your score.

For example, suppose the credit bureau didn’t recognize that you closed an account. Your credit score may not increase if they agree to report the account closed because the account and payment history will continue to appear on your report. In another example, the bureau may remove some derogatory information, but additional negative information on the report may prevent your score from rising.

If the dispute is not settled in your favor, make sure you ask the credit bureau to attach your dispute statement to your report. You can also ask (for a fee) that recent recipients of your credit report receive a copy of your dispute statement. As a last resort, you can contact a lawyer to help resolve the dispute in your favor.

How to Build Credit with a Credit Card

Rebuilding your credit also requires you to pay your bills on time. Your credit score can suffer substantial damage from late payments and collections.

Try to keep your payments timely by enrolling in automatic payment programs. For example, you can have your mortgage provider pull the monthly payments from your bank account automatically.

If you have delinquent payments, your best bet is to get current on those accounts. Otherwise, you may be saddled with a low credit score.

Be aware that paying off a collection will not remove it from your report. However, you may be able to negotiate with the collection agency to have the entry expunged in return for you paying the debt back.

Establishing a long record of on-time payments should help to increase your score. Also, the impact of derogatory information evaporates over time, so even if you have black marks on your report, they will cease hurting your score.

Usually, negative information remains on your report for no more than seven years, although some bankruptcy filings may remain for up to a decade.

If you’re having trouble paying your debts, you can work with a credit counselor and/or a debt settlement agency to negotiate easier repayment terms. You may be able to arrange some debt forgiveness as well.

Will I Need a Bank Account to Open a Credit Card?

Some credit cards do not require you to have a bank account, but you’ll usually find it easier to manage your credit cards if you do have a bank account.

Bank accounts allow you to pay your credit card bills online. That becomes a big hassle if you don’t have a bank account. You’ll have to pay your card with cash or money order, either in person at a bank branch or via the mail.

You could also use a money service, but that tacks on extra expenses. Bank online payments are instantaneous, while other methods introduce delays. Moreover, delivered payments could get lost in the mail.

In addition, you can use your bank account to set up automatic monthly payments to your credit card. You can set the payments to equal the full balance, the minimum amount due, or some other amount. If you get your credit card from the same bank that provides your checking and/or savings account, you can manage the whole lot on the bank’s mobile app.

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn’t require a bank account for approval.

Nonetheless, many consumers, especially millennials, don’t want to use a bank or credit union and prefer not to use any type of financial institution. If you fall into this category, you may want to consider the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card — it doesn’t require a bank account, even though your security deposit is FDIC-insured.

If you are unbanked, you may naturally prefer to use a prepaid credit card. These are a good alternative for anyone who would rather not hassle with banks and all their fees and rules.

Consider the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®. Many PayPal customers are unbanked and prefer it that way — for them, this Mastercard is perfect.

Our review of 20 credit cards for bad credit has revealed a few appealing alternatives aimed at consumers with less-than-perfect credit. Be sure to study the rates and fees charged for every card offer you consider so you avoid a predatory product that profits off consumers who need help.

These card reviews and handy tips for improving your credit can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation from many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across the site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.



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Bad Credit

Are No Down Payment Auto Loans Bad?

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Qualifying for a zero-down car deal likely means having good credit and qualifying income. However, if you’re a bad credit borrower, you’d be hard-pressed to qualify for an auto loan without a down payment. Besides – down payments are typically a great idea for borrowers across all credit ranges!

Is Zero Down a Bad Idea?

Opting for a zero-down car loan isn’t a bad thing – but with a lower credit score, it’s not likely to happen. Most bad credit auto lenders require at least $1,000 down or that you bring at least 10% of the vehicle’s selling price to the table. Down payments are a requirement of most subprime (bad credit) lenders, and it’s often called having “skin in the game.”

Are No Down Payment Car Loans Bad?Research shows that borrowers with skin in the game are more likely to complete a car loan. To a lender, a borrower that brings a down payment to a deal is more likely to make their payments, complete the loan, and avoid default. It also means a higher likelihood of qualifying for the auto loan.

Down payments can widen your vehicle choices since they allow you to get into more expensive cars that are outside your preapproval amount. If you’re approved for a $15,000 auto loan, but can’t find anything for your situation, adding a larger down payment amount may open up more vehicle choices. In this scenario, if you have your heart set on an $18,000 vehicle, coming in with a $3,000 down payment could put it in your price range.

More Down Payment Benefits

Auto loans are typically simple interest loans, meaning you’re charged interest on the principal of your loan. If you combine a large loan amount, a high interest rate, and a long term, it can mean paying more than your vehicle is worth.

Remember this:

High loan amount + High interest rate + Long loan term = Paying more interest charges. A down payment can combat this, and help save you money.

For borrowers with poor credit, a high interest rate could mean paying more for your auto loan – but a down payment can soften the blow.

Down payments can help protect you from negative equity, too. Negative equity is when you owe more on the auto loan than what the car is valued at. Vehicles are depreciating assets, meaning they lose value over time, and that never stops.

Negative equity causes problems for borrowers when it’s time to sell the vehicle. If you owe thousands more on the loan than what you can sell the car for, you may not be able to sell the car. You must pay off the loan before you can transfer vehicle ownership.

If you finance a vehicle for $10,000, that car may not be worth $10,000 in a year. Most used vehicles lose around 10% to 15% of their value each year. Brand new vehicles can see around a 20% drop in value within the first 12 months of ownership! Having a down payment can help keep your auto loan in an equity position, which means you’re likely to have fewer issues selling the car if you need to.

How Much Should Save for a Down Payment?

Your down payment requirement largely depends on your credit score and the size of the loan you’re applying for. Like we mentioned, saving at least $1,000 is probably a good starting point if your credit score is less than perfect. But if the vehicle you want is expensive, it could mean having to shell out more cash than that to qualify for the loan.

How much you need to save can also depend on your monthly budget. If you want a specific vehicle but the monthly payments are too high, you can put more cash down to lower your payment and make the loan work for your situation. You can use our auto loan calculator to estimate how much you may need to put down to get your car payment where you want.

You also don’t need cold, hard cash to meet a down payment requirement. Trade-ins with equity can completely satisfy a down payment requirement if there’s enough value, or you can use a combination of cash and your trade-in. If you have a car you’d like to trade in, research its estimated value on sites such as NADAguides and Kelley Blue Book so you can see what a dealer may offer.

The bottom line with down payments is you should save as much as you comfortably can afford. Even if you qualify for a zero-down car loan, putting cash down on your next auto loan is only going to bring you benefits in the long run.

Where Can I Find Bad Credit Car Loans?

If your income or credit score isn’t quite up to snuff, then you can expect to need some cash down to qualify for vehicle financing. You may also need to work with the right auto lender to get the vehicle financing you need.

With a lower credit score, not only are you faced with a down payment requirement but also the struggle of having to find an auto lender that can work with poor credit. Most traditional auto lenders prefer borrowers with good credit. If your credit score is rough around the edges, then applying for vehicle financing through a special finance dealership could be the way to go.

Special finance dealerships are signed up with subprime lenders. These lenders specialize in assisting borrowers with credit challenges and look at more than your credit reports and score. They do require a down payment, but they can often work around tough credit circumstances.

At Auto Credit Express, we’ve amassed a nationwide network of special finance dealerships and we want to help you find one in your local area. To get matched to a dealer near you that has bad credit lending options, fill out our free auto loan request form.

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19 Auto Loans For Bad Credit Drivers (2021)

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Bad credit auto loans with reasonable interest rates can be difficult to find. While it may be hard to secure an auto loan with poor credit, it’s not impossible. Many auto lenders specialize in providing auto loans for bad credit drivers.

In this review, we’ll list several auto loan providers that offer loans for drivers with low credit, no credit, and bankruptcies. We’ll also provide tips for how to apply for a loan when you have bad credit and how to improve your credit score. While the lowest rates with the best auto loan providers may not be available to those with poor credit, a low credit score doesn’t mean a reasonable car loan is impossible to find. 

You can see bad credit auto loan offers from multiple lenders using AutoCreditExpress.com.

 

In this article:

Can You Get A Car Loan With Horrible Credit?

Yes. Even with horrible credit, it is possible to get a car loan. It usually helps if you have a steady income and/or have someone with good credit cosign your loan.

It may be difficult to find a bad credit car loan with a low interest rate if your credit score is under 600. When you look for auto financing, seek out lenders that offer prequalification. Prequalification allows you to see interest rate offers without the loan company performing a hard credit check. A hard credit check can further hurt your credit score.

Be prepared to face higher interest rates if you have poor credit. However, you can reduce the amount of interest you will pay on a bad credit auto loan if you place a bigger down payment or request a shorter loan payoff period.

 


 

19 Auto Loans For Bad Credit Drivers

The list below names 19 auto loan providers that offer loans to drivers with bankruptcies and/or poor FICO credit scores. Several of the companies listed below even specialize in bad credit auto loans. Which lender will work best for you depends on your specific circumstances, but this list is a good place to begin your search.

Don’t hesitate to submit loan applications to companies that allow you to prequalify without a hard credit check. You should only agree to a hard credit check once you plan to accept the loan offer (and after comparing prequalification offers).

Auto Loan Provider

Minimum Credit Score Required

Minimum Annual Income Required

Clearlane580$21,600
Auto Approve580$18,000
myAutoloan.com575$21,000
RateGenius550Not specified
Tresl500Not specified
Prestige FinancialNo minimum credit$27,000
VroomNo minimum credit$21,600
Auto Credit ExpressNo minimum credit$18,000
Capital OneNo minimum credit$18,000
CarvanaNo minimum credit$4,00
New RoadsNo minimum creditNot specified
Credit Acceptance CorpNo minimum creditNot specified
DrivetimeNo minimum creditNot specified
AutopayNo minimum creditNot specified
LightstreamNo minimum creditNot specified
CarmaxNo minimum creditNot specified
CarZingNo minimum creditNot specified
ByriderNo minimum creditNot specified
RoadLoansNo minimum creditNot specified
 

 


 

Applying For A Bad Credit Auto Loan

Applying for auto financing used to take place primarily in banks or at the car dealership. Today, most companies have online applications, making it easy to request and compare several auto loans at a time. You can also use a service like AutoCreditExpress.com, which lets you see personalized loan offers from multiple lenders at once. However, it’s still a good idea to apply for your auto loan at your local bank or credit union in addition to searching online.

Look for companies that offer a preapproval process that does not require a hard credit check. What this means is that you will self-report your FICO score and income information to the lender. You will then be made a provisional auto loan offer. This is not an official offer, and your terms may not be finalized until after a hard credit check. Do not submit to a hard credit check unless you are fairly confident you will accept the loan offer. You want to limit the number of hard credit checks as much as possible.

While applying, you will likely need to supply potential lenders with information such as:

  • Personal details like your name, address, age, and Social Security number
  • Gross annual income information
  • Vehicle information like model, age, mileage, and vehicle identification number (VIN)

Before you finalize your auto loan, you may also be required to supply copies of your:

  • Driver’s license
  • Recent pay stubs
  • Personal references

Your credit score is the most important factor that determines your auto loan interest rate. The tables below show the average auto loan rates by credit score for new and used car purchases, according to a 2020 Experian State of the Auto Finance Market report.

Average Auto Loan Rates For New Car Purchases
Credit ScoreAverage Auto Loan Rate
300 – 50013.97%
501 – 60011.33%
601 – 6607.14%
661 – 7804.21%
781 – 8503.24%
 
Average Auto Loan Rates For Used Car Purchases
Credit ScoreAverage Auto Loan Rate
300 – 50020.67%
501 – 60017.78%
601 – 66011.41%
661 – 7806.05%
781 – 8504.08%
 

As you can see from the tables above, auto loan interest rates increase steeply for borrowers with credit scores of 660 and below. You will also notice that interest rates for new car purchases tend to be lower than those for used car purchases. However, if money is tight, you may still save more by purchasing a used car, though you will pay a higher interest rate.

The best way to get a lower interest rate if you have poor credit is to add a cosigner with good credit to your loan. A cosigner is someone who accepts responsibility for the loan and will be on the hook with collections if you miss any payments.

While it may not lower your interest rate, placing a larger down payment or opting for a higher monthly payment can help you save money on a bad credit auto loan. A shorter loan term may also reduce overall costs. The more quickly you pay off your auto loan, the less interest you will ultimately accumulate.

 


 

Tips For Improving Your Credit Score

A good credit score is vital to saving money and has benefits beyond a low interest rate on your auto loan. In several states, your credit history may also be used to determine your auto insurance premium. If you have bad credit, you should work to improve it as soon as possible. However, raising your credit score cannot be accomplished overnight.

Some ways to improve your credit score include:

  • Open a credit card: Don’t let your credit balance get too high, and pay off your bill in full each month. This shows lenders that you are dependable and can be trusted to make your loan payments.
  • Increase your credit limits: The amount of credit you’re using affects your score. For example, if you had a credit card with a limit of $1,000 and had a balance of $500, you’d be using 50 percent of your credit. However, if you asked your bank to increase your limit to $2,000, you’d only be using 25 percent of your credit. This can raise your score.
  • Debt consolidation: Try to consolidate your debts into one place with the lowest interest rates possible.
  • Pay down existing debt: This will save you money in the long run and help your credit score.
  • Wait: Certain negative factors will fall off your report after a number of years. Hard credit checks stop affecting your score after two years. Late payments, collections, and bankruptcies fall off your report after seven years.
  • Credit monitoring: Many of the major credit bureaus, such as Experian, Transunion, and Equifax, offer credit monitoring and tools for improving your credit. Take advantage of these programs.
  • Check your report: Request a copy of your own credit report and look for errors or outstanding debts you may have forgotten about.

If you initially take out a bad credit auto loan but later improve your credit score, be sure to consider auto loan refinancing. This involves taking a new loan with better interest rates to pay off the existing loan. You may want to refinance your auto loan after your credit score moves above 660 and 780.

To start comparing auto loans for bad credit from multiple lenders, visit AutoCreditExpress.com.

 

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Is it OK to Refinance a Vehicle Multiple Times?

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There’s no limit on how many times you can refinance your car loan, but it may not be a good idea to do it more than once. We cover how refinancing works, and some advice on refinancing your auto loan multiple times.

Refinancing an Auto Loan More Than Once

It certainly is possible to refinance your car loan more than once, since there’s no rule that says otherwise. However, whether or not it’s a good idea to refinance multiple times depends on how you do it. And, you may not qualify for refinancing again once you’ve already done it.

Most of the time, borrowers refinance their car loans to get a lower monthly payment. This is done by either lowering your interest rate or lengthening your loan term (sometimes both). Qualifying for a lower interest rate is a great way to save money on your loan, but simply extending your loan term generally isn’t a good idea without qualifying for a lower interest rate.

Is it OK to Refinance a Car Multiple Times?This is especially true if you refinance to a longer loan term more than once. Extending your auto loan multiple times draws out how long you have a car payment, which increases your interest charges. Auto loans are typically simple interest loans, so your interest charges add up based on your auto loan balance.

If you always extend your loan, you’re always going to rack up more interest charges – the higher your interest rate, the more you pay. This can lead to years of paying off the same vehicle and possibly paying more for it than it’s worth. If you’ve already refinanced your car and extended your loan term, then doing it again means paying more for the same vehicle.

Qualifying for Auto Refinancing Multiple Times

The most difficult part of getting approved for refinancing can be having a vehicle that qualifies. Most refinance lenders require that the vehicle be less than 10 years old and have less than 100,000 miles on it. If your vehicle is older, and/or you drive a lot, refinancing may not be possible – it only gets harder as time goes on and the vehicle depreciates.

If you’ve qualified for refinancing in the past and want to try again, it could be more difficult the second time around. A lender may see that you’ve already refinanced your auto loan and may be hesitant to approve you again. Refinancing the same car loan multiple times could be a sign of overextension – your auto loan may be too big for you to chew and they may take notice.

If you’re not sure that refinancing your vehicle for the second time is possible or you’re concerned you don’t qualify, trading in the car for a more manageable loan could be the next step.

Trading In a Challenging Auto Loan

A very common way to upgrade a vehicle or get a more manageable car loan payment is by trading it in for something more affordable. Most dealerships accept trade-ins, and the money you receive from a dealer could be applied to your next vehicle’s down payment to lower the selling price.

For a trade-in to help you with your next car purchase, it needs to have equity. Equity is when you owe less on the loan than what the vehicle is worth. The actual cash value (ACV) of your trade-in is determined by the dealer after they appraise your vehicle. You can’t find the ACV ahead of time, but you can look up estimated values on websites such as Kelley Blue Book or NADAguides. Once you have an estimated value of your vehicle, compare it to your current loan balance to find out if there’s equity in your car.

If you find that your loan balance is higher than a possible trade-in value, you have negative equity – also called being upside-down. An auto loan in a negative equity position doesn’t help you lower the selling price of your next vehicle.

Additionally, it can be harder to remove the lien from the title in this position, because you have to finish paying your loan before you can trade-in your car. Without equity, you have to come up with the money to pay your lender out of pocket. Often you can combine cash with trade-in equity to come up with the amount you need. However, if you’re unable to do this, you may be able to roll over the negative equity onto your next loan.

Finding a dealership that can take your trade-in may be somewhat easy, even if it requires a little legwork. As we mentioned, most dealers accept trade-ins, and they prep them to be resold on their lots. It’s a good idea to call around to dealerships in your area and get some estimates over the phone, and we recommend calling at least one franchised dealership that sells your vehicle’s make, since you may get a higher offer from them.

Finding a Resources for Your Situation

Finding a lender that can refinance your car loan might prove difficult, especially if you’ve already refinanced before. If you’d like some more resources and information on refinancing a car loan, we want to help you find those here.

Even if most dealerships do accept trade-ins, you may not always be able to work with their lenders. It’s not always easy locating a dealership that can assist with bad credit situations, and qualifying for refinancing can be hard with poor credit, too.

There are dealers that are signed up with bad credit lenders, but they don’t always stick out from the crowd. Here at Auto Credit Express, we aim to make it easier for borrowers to find dealerships that specialize in helping those with poor credit. To get matched to a dealer in your area with the lender resources for tough credit situations, fill out our free auto loan request form.

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