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I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652


I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

I'm 24 and am in need of a car. My last one was a '96 Camry that officially died in early November. I've been using public transportation since then, which wasn't a big deal, but now that I've graduated college, going on interviews isn't working out with the time conflict between my regular job + taking time to wait for the bus (example: instead of running out for an interview, taking an hour or so, I have to schedule everything around the bus's schedule, thus taking more time/money from my paycheck). 


I'm just in a never-ending circle as far as the above goes: could get a better job with more $, but can't get a job without a car. (I'm a journalist/reporter and a car is necessary). 


Here's some background according to myfico:


Current credit score: 652


Credit history: 5 years 


Revolving accounts (credit cards): $8,912 

  • Includes 3 credit cards; I got the oldest in March 2007. 


  1. $5,284 out of $5,400
  2. $1,914 out of $2,000
  3.  $1,714 out of $2,000

Installment Loans (school loans): $15,125 to start paying off in July

  • $5,500
  • $5,500
  • $2,750
  • $1,375


It's a lot; I know. The one credit card with the really high balance was essentially maxed out when I decided I didn't want to take out school loans and paid a semester with my credit card (HUGE mistake, I know). When I transferred from junior college, obviously, the cost was much higher and I had to take out loans. All my schooling was paid with 'borrowed' money in my own name. I used the cards for books and things of that nature as well. 


I don't know what to do now. There are jobs in my field iwth higher pay, but scheduling interviews is a big problem with no vehicle which leads to me not wanting to schedule interviews because I'll be losing money for taking more time off from work. 


I work 40 hours/wk and make about $1500/month. I pay my parents a small percentage for rent/utilities, since I have moved back in with them. 


Typing it all out kind of has me answering my own question. 


If I get a new car, everything would be under my own name. The car I'm looking at is a Corrolla, basic nothing fancy/no upgrades, which runs around $20K. If I have to get a 2011 one that by some weird reason is still in a lot, that would be great for me because it's not "new," per se. 


I guess my question is is there any way I could get a single-digit interest rate? I doubt there is, but just thought I'd ask. I've never missed a payment on anything, but the combination of all my debt is a huge factor and I know that. My current job pays OK, but if I got a new one, it would obviously pay at least $20/hr, which would be double my current income--allowing me to pay down all my debt waaay faster. But I'm trying to plan all this in the present--based on my current income. I don't want a high payment either. And I don't want to lease. Toyota's are good reliable cars and I could have this one for a good 10 years at least. 




I absolutely hate having all this debt; my credit score was 812 at one point--before the loans...


Any and all suggestions/questions are welcome. As you can see, I don't know what to do. I live in a major city where a car is essentially required if you work outside the 'city loop'...




Thanks for all your answers. I expected a 'you should know better than having that much debt at your age!' (which I would agree with and, quite frankly, deserve), but you all have been very helpful. Thanks for sharing about your experiences as well. I'll do some more research in the mean time. Smiley Happy 


Message 1 of 23
Moderator Emeritus

Re: I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

Check with your local CU.


If you can get a new job first, then go for it. I used to work in television and worked for a major paper and based on your pay there are much better positions/rates of pay out there. That'll also boost your DTI and make it more favorable for approval, and pay down debt faster all the while increasing your FICOs back towards the 800s.

Message 2 of 23
Frequent Contributor

Re: I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

The things that are holding your score down are the maxed out credit cards. If you can get all of those down under 80% of their limits, that will give your score an immediate bump, and the further down you pay them, the higher your score will go. If you have a 652 with all of your credit cards maxed out, you would be well over 700 once you got your balances down.

If you can pay down even a little bit of your CC debt, you should be able to get your scores into the 670 range, which would get you an interest rate around 7 or 8%
Message 3 of 23
Frequent Contributor

Re: I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

It will be hard for you to find good financing without a good down payment. That is alot of debt to have on limited income. If anyone can get you into a car Toyota would be your best bet. They approved me for a 2012 Corolla S 2 years ago and my situation at the time was similar to yours. Most places wouldn't touch my loan with a 10 foot pole because of my income and debt. The ones that would only would loan me between $10K-$15K. My EQ Fico at the time was 650ish with 64% DTI. Toyota is the only one that would put me in a new car. I decided to buy a beater to drive for 2 years and pay down all my debt then get a new car and it worked out really well for me.



Message 4 of 23
Epic Contributor

Re: I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

Util vs. income might be your issue but go in to the largest toyota dealership around you.... The one I use to go to and worked for for a hot second did such volume they could push through the trashiest of deals... the only thing about that is if you do not know your numbers then watch out... I even just last week got a sales guy arguing what the payments would be... I'm like I have an iphone app, when it's a purchase, you have 3 numbers... they can't change...


What you finance

How many months

What interest rate


That's it... you can change the numbers within but you can not have a $300 car payment on a $30k loan.... make them tell you your scores, make them tell you final price you are financing...  id do the negotiation online or over phone - I tend do to both.... the bad ones will usually walk away after a couple emials or phone calls that don't include you telling them you are coming to the dealership... the better ones will work with you anyway they can....


but Toyota is usually a little better about working iwth iffy credit and yours isn't all that iffy except you need to make more, but no bk, etc.!

Nissan is even easier.



Message 5 of 23
Established Member

Re: I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

I have an idea for you.


Why not consolidate your revolving debt into an installment loan?  This would take your revolving utilization down to zero and possibly provide you a better interest rate to help pay down the debt faster.  You could look into something like Lending Club or Prosper where the rates are better than a traditional bank.


The lowered utilization might offset the new inquiry and new account negs.


Even if you don't go this route, you can always refi the car loan after six months to a year of on-time payments for a better rate.  At that point your auto-enhanced score may be significatly helped since it seems as if you don't have any previous auto related credit history.

Message 6 of 23

Re: I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

That's not a bad idea. For any other job, I wouldn't be too worried about the car situation, but getting sent out to assignments is pretty much the whole job of a reporter. I did like the suggestion of just asking the dealership. Thanks

Message 7 of 23
New Contributor

Re: I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

Toyotas certified preowned  interest rate is 1.9% and their requirement is a 650 fico.  


Dcu just approved me for 20k at 5.9 for 65 months with the same score as you.


i agree with the idea of taking all your credit card debt and putting it into an installment loan.


There are places that will rent you a car for 250 a month. Get one for a month while you are hunting for a job and also transfer your credit card debt into a loan.

Message 8 of 23
Valued Member

Re: I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

Lending Club was a rip off imho. They quoted me a rate of 19% with a 687 score. I ended up getting 0.9% on 60 month loan from Toyota Financial services on a  2012 Toyota Highlander SE. USAA qualified me for 4.34% for 60 months and BOFA offered me 2.49% for 60 months. Huge difference in those offers. Why would Lending Club be so high? 

Starting Score: EQ728(11/06/2015), EX722,TR727(11/06/2015?
Current Score: EQ 728 11/06/15, EX 722,TR 727 11/06/15
Goal Score: 740 plus on ALL by end of 2016

Take the FICO Fitness Challenge
Message 9 of 23
Senior Contributor

Re: I *NEED* a car, but my credit score is 652

I purchased a certified pre-owned ford for 3.9% interest.  642 score, zero down, $21000 out the door with interest.  Five years.

Message 10 of 23