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Can I get a car loan with bad credit?

Bria Horne avatar
Bria Horne
- 6 min read
Can I get a car loan with bad credit?

Getting a car loan when you have bad credit

Financing a car when you have bad credit can seem like an uphill struggle at times. But don’t let having bad credit drive you to despair. There might be financing options available to you, even if your credit rating isn’t squeaky clean.

At RateCity we never tire of aiming to help you make the best financial decisions possible for your circumstances, so here we’ll outline some possible routes for you to take that could help you get back on the road, and put you back in the driving seat in terms of your finances.

Where can I get a car loan when I have bad credit?

There are several lenders who specialise in bad credit car loans. Unfortunately, having a bad credit rating means that you are more of a risk to lenders, which often results in higher interest rates. However, you may find that car loans have lower interest rates than some personal loans for bad credit, as your loan can often be secured against the car, hence reducing your rate.

The lenders you can approach for a car loan, and the rate you’ll subsequently receive may vary depending on your credit score and circumstances. One option is to approach a lender for a personalised rate based on your unique circumstances.

What is a secured car loan?

A secured car loan is a loan that is secured against your vehicle. This means that if you default on your loan or can’t afford your repayments, the lender can claim your car as compensation. This reduces the risk to lenders and allows them to subsequently reduce their interest rates, as opposed to if the loan was unsecured.

You can also secure car loans through a guarantor.

What is a guarantor car loan?

Guarantor loans for cars are loans which are secured by someone who guarantees the repayments for you. This may be a parent, relative or a close friend. Having a guarantor may mean that your application is more likely to be approved, and/or that you are able to secure a loan with a lower rate.

Guarantor car loans might be particularly useful for young people and students. Students may not have spent much time being financially independent and therefore have a low credit score due to having little credit history.

Some students may even have no credit score, though checking your credit score is still important, as even small things like paying your phone bill can impact your credit rating.

Having no credit can in many ways hinder you just as much as having bad credit. While your score isn’t bad, it also isn’t good, and you are a wild card to lenders. Luckily, there are student car loans available.

Can I get a car loan if I’m on Centrelink payments?

Loans for people on Centrelink payments, for example car loans for single parents, or car loans for pensioners, may be available to you.

How can I get a bad credit car loan?

Getting a car loan with a bad credit history can be made easier by contacting loan providers that specialise in bad credit car loans. These companies are set up to cater to individuals with bad credit ratings, the self-employed and first time borrowers who may find it hard to prove to traditional lenders that they are reliable borrowers.

Of course there are catches in going through these providers, the main one being that the interest rate on the loan will be higher than average. The high interest rate is used to mitigate the risk the lender takes on by allowing you to take out a loan with a bad credit rating.

Where can I get advice on car loans for bad credit?

Another path you can go down is to consult a finance broker. There are two main advantages with using a broker:

  • Brokers generally don’t charge for their services (instead, they receive commission payments from lenders)
  • They are able to able to recommend car loans from a range of lenders (as opposed to you approaching lenders directly, who will only recommend their own products)

Finance brokers are qualified professionals who are required to follow the National Credit Code and to observe responsible lending practices.


What is bad credit?

Credit ratings are scored out of 1200:

  • 0 to 509 – below average or bad
  • 510 to 621 – average
  • 622 to 725 – good
  • 726 to 832 – very good
  • 833 to 1200 – excellent

Bad credit affects over 2 million Australians, over 600,000 of whom are at “high” to “extreme” risk, so if you’re struggling for a car loan and you have bad credit, you’re not alone.

A bad credit score can happen to anyone and you may have just been unlucky – find out more about how credit scores work and how to improve them.

You can find out what your credit rating is by contacting a credit bureau such as Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet and Experian and asking to access your credit file.

Why do I have a bad credit rating?

Once you retrieve your credit history you may notice that there are some factors that could add up to you having a bad credit rating. These may include:

  • Missed repayments on money borrowed
  • Delayed repayments on money borrowed
  • Defaulting on a loan
  • Having declare bankruptcy in the past
  • An excess of credit enquiries

Stay in the know

It is important to stay in the know about your credit history, so that small mistakes don’t end up putting you in a worse financial position. If you want to check your credit history, go to https://www.mycreditfile.com.au/

Final thoughts

Be careful not to apply to too many lenders as this will also have a negative impact on your credit history, and you don’t want to drive your credit rating further down. Visit our bad credit page for more information on bad credit.

Another important thing to remember is to never take out a loan that you don’t think you will be able to repay. Use a car loan calculator to estimate what the repayments will be, and then budget them into your normal ingoing and outgoing expenses.

If you don’t think you can comfortably make the repayments and wouldn’t be able to keep up the repayments if you experienced a change in circumstances, you might want to rethink taking out the loan.

For more support managing your personal finances, check Moneysmart, or contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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This article is over two years old, last updated on June 20, 2018. While RateCity makes best efforts to update every important article regularly, the information in this piece may not be as relevant as it once was. Alternatively, please consider checking recent car loans articles.

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.