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Which Credit Scores Qualify for the Best Auto Loan Rates?

Everyone knows you need a good credit score to qualify for the lowest auto financing or lease rates, but what exactly constitutes a good credit score?

Many people don't realize lenders change their requirements on a regular basis - a lot depends on the economy and local market conditions.

Before the financial melt-down in 2008, many people with credit scores above 650 were qualifying for the best rates.

These days, it's harder to get financing. To qualify for the best auto loan rates, you generally have to have a credit score of 720 or above.

Here's a breakdown of credit scores and the rates they qualify for as of May 2011.

Credit Score Interest Rate
720 - 850 4.7%
690 - 719 6.2%
660 - 689 8.1%
620 - 659 11.7%
590 - 619 17.6%
500 - 589 18.6%

Right now, in order to qualify for the best financing deals such as 0% for 60 months, you need to have a credit score of at least 720.

To see what your credit score is, go to FreeCreditScore.com

3 Steps Every Car Buyer Needs to Take to Save Maximum Money

The key to getting the best deal is to gather price or lease bids from as many local dealers as possible. Then shop that best price around until no one can beat it. Here are the steps:

Step 1 Get Prices From My Trusted Network

Select the vehicle you're interested in to see if there are local dealers in my network who will provide you with their best upfront price. You will get direct access to an internet sales manager who you can further negotiate with online (no need to visit dealership).
Select Vehicle to Get Local Pricing

Step 2 Get Prices From TrueCar / CarsDirect

TrueCar, and CarsDirect are my top 2 online price quote recommendations. These services show you pre-negotiated prices from dealers closest to you - and the deals are usually pretty decent. But remember, you can still negotiate further.

Step 3 Complete my Checklist

Follow this up with my checklist to make sure you squeeze out every last bit of savings.
- Gregg Fidan

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  • Latest Car Buying Scams and Tricks
  • The Best & Worst Time to Buy a Car
  • Which Cars You Should Avoid

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About The Author

Gregg Fidan Gregg Fidan is the founder of RealCarTips. After being ripped off on his first car purchase, he devoted several years to figuring out the best ways to avoid scams and negotiate the best car deals. He has written hundreds of articles on the subject of car buying and taught thousands of car shoppers how to get the best deals.
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