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What is a bad credit score and what can be done to fix it?

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  • A credit score below 669 is considered a “bad” credit score with both the FICO and VantageScore scoring models.
  • Payment history, credit utilization, and hard credit inquiries are a few of the factors that can impact your credit score.
  • A bad credit score can hurt your ability to get approved for a loan at the lowest rates and may have a negative impact on applications for other services as well, such as insurance, utilities, and phone service.
  • Get your free credit score with Credit Karma »

A credit score is a three-digit number that usually ranges from 300 to 850. Lenders equate higher scores with lower risk, and lower scores with higher risk. Scoring models, such as FICO and VantageScore, use data from your credit reports to calculate your scores and provide them to lenders when you apply for credit.

Since there are multiple credit bureaus and scoring models, everyone will have multiple credit scores. For example, your FICO scores will usually be somewhat different from your VantageScore scores. And a FICO score based on your TransUnion credit report could be slightly different than one that uses your Experian or Equifax credit files.

While 300 is the lowest credit score and 850 is a perfect credit score, most of our scores will fall somewhere between those two extremes. So what range of scores constitutes a “bad” credit score? Let’s take a look.

What is a bad credit score?

To understand whether your score is good or bad, you first need to know which scoring model is being used. FICO and VantageScore use slightly different credit scoring ranges. 

With FICO, a score from 580-669 is considered Fair, while a score below 580 is considered Poor. The VantageScore scoring model breaks sub-prime borrowers into three credit score ranges: Fair (601-660), Poor (500-600), and Very Poor (300-499). So anything below 669 is considered “bad” credit.

See every credit score range for both scoring models below.

FICO scoring ranges

fico scoring ranges



Clint Proctor


VantageScore scoring ranges

vantagescore scoring ranges



Clint Proctor


What’s the difference between having a bad credit score and no credit score?

If you have no credit score, that means you don’t yet have any credit history on file with the major US credit bureaus. If you have a bad credit score, on the other hand, that means you do have a credit history and one or more factors on your credit file are holding your score back. 

Having no credit score is, in many ways, better than having a bad credit score because you’re starting from a clean slate. You don’t have any negative marks on your credit reports (like late payments, charge-offs, bankruptcies, etc.), which can take several years to fall off.

However, it can still be difficult to get approved for credit when you have no credit score, since lenders won’t have any credit history to base an approval decision upon. Thankfully, there are a variety of ways you can begin to build credit such as applying for a secured credit card or credit builder loan, or being added as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card.

How can a bad credit score impact your life?

A bad credit score can make it more difficult to get approved for any type of credit from lenders. This includes both revolving credit, like credit cards, and installment loans, like mortgages and auto loans.

For example, home buyers need a credit score of at least 620 to qualify for a conventional loan mortgage. And Experian’s latest State of the Automotive Finance Market report found that new car buyers who took out a loan or lease in the fourth quarter of 2019 had an average credit score of 719.

Even if you’re able to get approved for a loan with a bad credit score, you’re unlikely to qualify for the best rates. For example, new car buyers in Q4 2019 whose credit scores fell within the Excellent range (781-850) received an average interest rate of 3.82% while the average rate for car buyers with Poor scores was 11.51%.

Finally, it should be noted that your credit score can even impact your application for services outside the credit industry. According to the FTC, landlords, insurance agencies, utility providers, and even phone companies may check your credit to gauge if you’re a good risk. 

How can you repair a bad credit score?

The first step towards fixing a bad credit score is to check your credit report to see what’s holding your score back. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, you can check your credit score free once per week through April 2021 at AnnualCreditReport.com. If there are errors on your report that are hurting your score, you have the right to dispute them and request their removal.

If there are no errors on your credit report and you’re not sure why your score is low, tools like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame can help. They can identify your negative credit score factors and give advice on how to improve your score. 

In any case, one of the best things you can do to repair a bad credit score is to begin paying all your bills on time. Payment history is an important credit score factor in both the FICO and VantageScore scoring models.

You’ll also want to pay attention to how much of your available credit you’re using each month. A lower credit utilization rate generally has a positive impact on your score. Limiting your hard credit inquiries can also help to rebuild a bad credit score.

Finally, you may want to sit down with a credit counselor to get personalized advice on how to manage your debt and rebuild your credit. You can use the locator tool from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) to find an accredited counselor near you.

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Bad Credit

Can My Cosigner Take My Car?

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Cosigners don’t get any rights to the vehicle they signed the loan for. However, if the cosigner is trying to take your car, it may be time to take some action.

Cosigners and Ownership

Can My Cosigner Take My Car?Cosigners can’t take the vehicle they cosigned for because their name isn’t listed on the title. A cosigner isn’t responsible for making the monthly payments, maintaining car insurance, or really anything else. Cosigners simply lend you their good credit score to help you get approved for the auto loan, and if you can’t make payments, the lender can require them to pick up the slack.

Since you’re the primary borrower on the vehicle and your name is listed on the car’s title, you have ownership rights. Your cosigner can’t come to your residence and take possession of the vehicle – even if they’re the one making the car payments right now.

If you do default on the loan and the vehicle is repossessed, the cosigner still can’t take the car.

But My Cosigner Did Take My Car!

If your cosigner did somehow take your keys and your vehicle without permission, it’s considered theft. If you want to take action, you can report the car as stolen.

However, a better first step is probably contacting the cosigner and letting them know that they don’t have any ownership rights (if you want to maintain a relationship with them). You can ask them to return the vehicle and explain that their name isn’t on the title.

Removing a Cosigner From a Car Loan

If things are dicey with your cosigner, then it may be time to consider removing them from the auto loan. The easiest way to remove a cosigner is by refinancing.

Refinancing is when you replace your current loan with another one. You can work with your current lender or another one, but most borrowers look for another lender to refinance with.

You don’t need a perfect credit score to refinance your car loan – it just has to be good or better than it was when you first got the loan. Another common requirement of refinancing is that you’ve had the loan for at least one year.

Other common requirements for refinancing are:

  • You’ve stayed current on payments throughout the loan
  • You have equity or your loan balance is equal to the vehicle’s value
  • Your car has less than 100,000 miles and is less than 10 years old

Most borrowers usually refinance to lower their loan payments. Since you’re replacing your current auto loan with another one, many borrowers try to qualify for lower interest rates or extend their loan to lower their payments. If your credit score has improved, you may even be able to get a better interest rate and remove your cosigner!

Can’t Refinance to Remove the Cosigner?

Refinancing isn’t in the cards for everyone. However, another efficient way to remove a cosigner is by selling the car. Cosigners don’t have to be present at the sale of the vehicle, since they don’t have to sign the title to transfer ownership.

If you sell the car and get an offer large enough to cover the entire balance of your loan, you and the cosigner can walk away from the auto loan scot-free.

However, many borrowers need cosigners because their credit score isn’t the best. If you want to sell your vehicle to remove your cosigner, but you’re worried you can’t get a car loan by yourself, consider a subprime auto loan for your next vehicle.

Bad Credit Auto Loans

Since many traditional car lenders don’t work with borrowers who have poor credit histories or lower credit scores, they often ask them to bring a cosigner. But what if you don’t want a cosigner (or can’t get one) on your next auto loan? Enter subprime car loans.

Subprime lenders are teamed up with special finance dealerships, and they operate remotely. When you apply for financing with a special finance dealer, you work with the special finance manager who acts as the middleman between you and the lender.

You need documents to prove you’re ready to take on an auto loan – typical things like check stubs, proof of residency, valid driver’s license, a down payment, and other assorted items depending on your credit situation. If you qualify, the lender determines what your maximum car payment can be, and you choose a vehicle you qualify for from there.

What sets subprime auto loans apart from traditional car loans is that they assist borrowers in tough credit situations and offer the opportunity for credit repair. Some in-house financing dealerships that don’t check credit reports don’t report their auto loans, which means your timely payments don’t improve your credit score.

Finding a Car Dealership Near You

The best way to improve your credit score is by paying all your bills on time. Payment history is the most influential piece of the credit score pie. There are many lenders willing to work with bad credit borrowers, you just have to know where to look!

Here at Auto Credit Express, we’ve already done the searching, and we’ve created a nationwide network of dealers that are signed up with subprime lenders. Get matched to a dealership in your area, with no cost and no obligation, by filling out our car loan request form.

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United Way hoping to raise thousands of dollars on Giving Tuesday –

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“We have partnered with Carter Meyers Associates in the community and developed what we call Driving Lives Forward, an automobile loan program to help families that maybe have no credit or bad credit to access resources to have an affordable loan to purchase a reliable used car,” said Barbara Hutchinson, the Vice President of Community Impact for the United Way of Greater Charlottesville.

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Loans for Bad Credit: Alternatives to High-Interest Loans

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In the face of unexpected events, most Americans don’t have enough cash to cover their needs. Statistics estimate that more than half of all Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account.

It’s challenging to get through everyday life without expecting anything to go wrong. Any emergency — be it a car accident, a hospital visit, or even a broken refrigerator — will put Americans in trouble.

To add insult to injury, poor credit can make an emergency even more challenging. That’s where installment loans come in.

For consumers that have a bad credit score (below 630), installment loans can be the best option to get quick money. Installment loan funds are distributed all at once. Afterward, the repayment of the installment loan follows either a fixed monthly payment.

Online installment loans are ideal for emergencies as access to fast cash. Here’s everything you need to know before taking out an installment loan.

Online Installment Loan Basics

Installment loans are actually a broad category that includes many different kinds of loans, such as mortgage loans, car loans, and other personal loans. They tend to be long-term loans that require credit checks.

Payday loans are another type of installment loan. However, its structure is different. They must be repaid over a shorter period, have higher interest rates, but require no credit checks.

Installment Loans

As stated above:

  • Installment loans deliver quick cash in one lump sum

  • Installment loans require a credit check

  • Installment loans describe many different loan types

Furthermore, installment loan terms depend on the type of loan and can range from 3 years for car loans to 30 years for mortgage loans. In contrast, a personal installment loan lasts for approximately 12 months.

To get approval for any of the above loans, the individual will be subject to a credit check (more to know on that here: https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-credit-check.htm ) and a fairly long application process.

Installment loans offer an APR of 36% or below, and user payments can be made online, over the phone, or by check.

Another advantage of installment loans is that they help borrowers improve their credit rating — as long as they pay on-time. It provides immediate access to cash, while at the same time, it’s a means to an end toward recovering a bad credit score.

How well individuals can do often depends on the terms of the installment loan that they receive. Keep reading to get more advice on how to choose an installment loan that is right for you.

Choosing an Online Lender

Like any other loan, picking a lender requires a fair amount of research and work. It’s not going to be a simple task, and there are several factors that individuals need to look out for when picking the right loans.

Below are the most important features that individuals need to keep in mind when choosing an online installment loan.

Compare Rates

All the different installment loan options out there are going to offer different percentage rates. These range from 6% to 36%, and you should sift through all possible options to get the most favorable rates.

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Ideally, individuals should opt for the lowest rates to ensure that the monthly payments are as low as possible.

Online lenders can offer potential borrowers their interest rates ahead of time. This usually requires a soft credit check, which does not impact a borrower’s credit score.

However, applicants need to be careful, as different vendors have different requirements. Understanding these requirements will help avoid any mishaps.

Understand All Fees

Every vendor has different fees, these fees might have different names like an “organization fee” or a “service fee,” but they generally range from 1% to 6%.

In contrast, other vendors might charge a prepayment fee for early repayment. Under no circumstances should a borrower agree to a loan deal before the lender discloses all fees.

It’s up to the individual to be as vigilant as possible because certain vendors will keep some fees to themselves, and may not disclose them until the last minute.

To avoid any excess costs in the future, make sure to go over the contract in its entirety.

Choosing Manageable Terms

Installment loans offer a lot of advantages for needy consumers:

But, one thing to remember is this: the longer the loan term, the higher the interest individuals will pay. Taking longer terms might give borrowers more time to pay, but it also means that borrowers will have to pay more interest.

In contrast, shorter terms are harder to manage, but it means paying a lower interest rate. When choosing the right installment loan, individuals should calculate the monthly payment based on the term length.

Many online vendors offer software that automatically calculates the amount. Everyone should employ a strategy to assess different term lengths to see what monthly payments are the most manageable.

Vendor Perks

Not all vendors are the same, and it’s already established that they offer different rates for different prices. However, while already offering different rates, vendors also offer different perks — specific features tailored to the individual.

If the individual is consolidating debt, certain lenders will send loan money to creditors on behalf of the loanee. Other vendors offer the ability to change due dates or provide hardship plans if the borrower encounters any financial difficulties.

It’s crucial to consider all these factors before taking out an installment loan. It’s best to have everything working to your advantage with an already poor credit history before taking out an installment loan.

Our Top Picks for Online Installment Loans

There are hundreds of online installment loan options out there, and looking through all of them can be a hassle. Furthermore, those new to the industry won’t be able to identify scams or loans meant to exploit.

Upgrade

Upgrade is one of the best installment loan vendors for those with a bad credit score. They accept a minimum score of 600 and will provide potential applicants with an offer in minutes. Their APR rates range from 7.99-35.97% depending on the amount, duration, and purpose of the loan. Users can easily apply for loans and get ideas on rates using the company’s website.

Simple Fast Loans

Simple Fast Loans is also among the best installment loan vendors for individuals that have a bad credit score. They offer loans ranging from $200-$3,000. These loans have terms up to 5 years.There’s no prepayment penalty, and applicants will also get next day funding. To get an idea of the rates, users can easily apply using their website.

LendingPoint

For users that have a credit score below 600, a great option to choose is LendingPoint. They accept a minimum credit score of 585 and offer loans for $2,000-$25,000. The APR rates for these loans are on the higher side ranging from 9.99-35.99%. Money becomes available to the applicant the next day, and there’s no prepayment penalty on the loan.

Avant

Another installment loan vendor for users that don’t have a good credit score is Avant. They require a minimum credit score of 580 and offer loans for $2,000-$35,000. The APR rate is between 9.95-35.99%, and they offer the ability to change payment dates. However, applicants will have to pay a loan origination fee, and there’s no option to include a co-signer on the loan.

Online Financing Options to Avoid

Online installment loans are a great option for individuals with bad credit scores, and, if used correctly, are a way to improve credit scores.

However, the same can’t be said for all online financing options, and certain ones are important to avoid.

Payday Loans

Payday loans function similarly to installment loans. In addition, they have recently been rebranded as short-term installment loans.

The loans are usually under $1,000 and are due on the next payday. With payday loans, an individual will have to either submit a post-dated check or provide access to the bank account.

It might sound relatively okay, but the issue with payday loans is that it’s nearly impossible to pay them back. Lenders will let individuals roll over the loans with more interest to pay the next day. Interest rates are typically 400% APR on these loans, and individuals get caught in the payday loan debt cycle.

No Credit Check Loans

These loans might seem like a good idea for those with bad credit scores, but they’re essentially just a debt cycle. The combination of high-interest rates, short terms, and lump sum repayment means that borrowers are stuck in a cycle of ever-increasing debt. It’s best to find loans that offer some sort of credit check and security to get the best terms.

Upfront fees

While certain loans might require a small percentage to process the application, some can be a complete red flag. There are plenty of up-front loan scams, and there are several signs that borrowers need to address. If a vendor asks for money upfront, then there’s a good chance it’s a scam.

Additionally, these issues tend to arise the most with vendors that don’t offer credit checks. Lastly, do enough research to recognize an offer that seems too good to be true.

Conclusion

Keeping all these things in mind, online installment loans are the best option for borrowers with a bad credit score. They are a useful resource and, if managed correctly, are a path to recovering a good credit score.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes



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