Having a prime credit score is the key to getting the car you want at the price you can afford. A prime credit score indicates that you are a low credit risk to lenders, making it easier for you to get an attractive interest rate that can potentially save you thousands of dollars in interest. Prime scores are generally 660 or higher.
Prime credit scores for an auto loan are 660 and higher, with the best interest rates usually offered to people with super prime scores 720 or higher.
FICO Score Determination
The most widely used credit scoring formula comes from the Fair, Isaac and Company (FICO). Your score is a numeric history that is derived from the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. However, your credit score for each of the bureaus can be different, as some companies may only report to one of the credit bureaus. Your FICO score ranges from 300 to 850 points, with a higher score indicating a better rating.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, super prime scores are 720 and above. Prime scores range from 660 to 719. Nonprime scores are 620 to 659. Subprime scores range from 580 to 619, while deep subprime scores are less than 580. A person can look at how their credit score compares to other applicants for credit. Generally, an applicant needs to fall within the top 50th percentile to get the best scores.
Having a super prime score of 720 or above is truly optimal for the best auto loan rates. According to ValuePenguin, scores at the 720 plus range yielded an average interest rate of 3.6 percent for an auto loan, as of 2018. For consumers with a credit score between 690 and 719, an average interest rate of 4.95 percent for auto loans during this same time period. Individuals with worse credit scores had an interest rate between 7.02 percent and 15.24 percent.
Improving Your Score
If you have some time before you plan to take out the auto loan, measures are available that can help you improve your credit score. One effective method to improve your credit score is to decrease the ratio between the amount of debt you have accumulated and your credit limit. Don't close out unused credit cards as this may decrease your overall credit limit and increase your debt to credit ratio. Getting a copy of your credit report and correcting any mistakes can also help.
Lenders look at other factors when deciding whether to loan you money for an auto loan, such as your income, your length of employment and the type of credit you are seeking. Paying a larger down payment may help you get loan approval.
- Bankrate: 7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
- Credit.com: What Is a Good Credit Score?
- Suze Orman: Get Your FICO Score
- Value Penguin: Average Auto Loan Interest Rates – 2018 Facts & Figures
- Bankrate: What Credit Score Is Needed to Buy a Car?
- CARFAX: What’s the Minimum Credit Score Needed for a Car Loan?
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Borrower Risk Profiles
Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.