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Car finance made easy

We make getting car finance simple so you can be on the road in no time with over 17 lenders and 70 products compared.

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I would like to borrow
£1,500
To pay back over
3.5 years

Representative Example: Borrowing £5,500 over 48 months with a representative APR of 19.8%, the amount payable would be £163 a month, with a total cost of credit of £2,283 and a total amount payable of £7,783.

What credit score do I need to be approved for car finance?

Before applying for a loan, people often want to know what credit score is needed to buy a car on finance.

It makes sense to do some research before you commit to an application – but it’s not always as simple as quoting a particular credit score number, especially as different lenders work with different scoring systems.

Here, we’ll explore credit scores in a little more depth – and offer some advice that’ll help you make sure your chance of being accepted is as high as possible.

What credit score is needed to finance a car?

While it would be nice to simply quote a number to indicate whether or not your credit score is good enough to buy a car on finance – the credit scoring system isn’t quite that simple.

The problem is, different credit reference agencies use slightly different scoring systems. As such, different lenders will see different numbers, based on which system they use.

For instance, Equifax’s scoring system allows for a score between 0-700 – with the UK average being around 380. On the other hand, TransUnion (previously known as CallCredit) has a system that goes between 0-710 – with the UK average being around 610. With this in mind, a score of 550 would be good with Equifax – but lower than average with TransUnion.

If it sounds complicated – it’s because it is. And, if things weren’t complicated enough – it’s never just as simple as checking your credit rating to decide whether or not you could finance a car.

What else is considered?

Ultimately, a credit rating only really gives a lender an idea of how you’ve conducted your finances in the past. While that helps companies decide whether or not they’d be willing to lend to you – it’s not the full story – and a good credit rating doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a suitable candidate for car finance.

Let’s consider an example:

Imagine you decide you’d like to apply for finance on a Lamborghini Huracan. You’ve got an excellent credit rating – so you should have no problem – right?

Well, that might be the case – but with a monthly HP payment that’s likely to well exceed £3,000, affordability might be a problem. So, if you earn £2,000 per month, you simply will not be able to get the finance, regardless of your credit rating.

This works the other way around too:

Let’s say you earn £1,600 each month and you’re looking to buy a new Ford Ka on a PCP deal. You’re in a position to put a large deposit down – so your monthly payment comes down to around £100 per month. The finance company would consider the risk here to be very small, so you’re likely to get the finance, even if your credit score could use a little work.

With those two examples, you can see how someone with an excellent credit rating can be refused finance – and someone with a less than average credit rating can potentially get finance fairly easily.

Improving your chances of getting car finance

Now we know there’s more to getting car finance than simply having a good credit score, it’s worth putting together a quick checklist that will help you make sure you’re in with a good chance of getting the deal you want.

Credit score

At Car.co.uk, we work with a large panel of lenders who can provide finance for a huge range of people and vehicles. Even though we have specialist providers for people who have a poor credit rating, you’re still likely to get a better deal if your credit rating is as positive as possible.

With this in mind, you might want to request a copy of your statutory credit report a few months before you’re planning to buy your next car. That way, you can address any issues that might be present – and give yourself the best chance of bumping your score up before you apply.

Affordability

When you’re considering cars, you might want to check that you can comfortably afford the payment – alongside other life costs, like your accommodation, household bills, credit repayments, and so forth.

A lender will consider these factors when deciding if you can realistically afford the car you’re hoping for, so giving your finances a little health check is a good idea before you fill out an application. 

The right car

Different vehicles can represent different levels of risk for lenders – so you might want to do a little research and make sure the car you want is compatible with a finance deal.

For example, there are fewer lenders who could provide funding for an imported classic American vehicle – compared to the number who could help you buy a new Ford Focus from a UK retailer. Pick a vehicle that lenders will be happy to finance – or, track down specialist lenders if you’ve got your eye on something a little more unusual.

Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

If you’re refused car finance, find out why. You may need to correct inaccuracies in your credit report or take steps to improve your credit score. You might also want to consider using a guarantor.

In order to get car finance with a CCJ, you will need to change the status of your judgement on the record or have it removed.

It may be possible to get car finance if you have an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) currently in place. To do so, you’ll need to seek the permission of the Insolvency Practitioner dealing with your case.

Your access to agreements may be more limited, but it is possible to get car finance with a poor credit history.

It is not possible to get car finance in the 12 months after being declared bankrupt or until your bankruptcy is discharged through the courts. Getting finance without declaring that your bankrupt is against the law – and could lead to an extension of your bankruptcy.

Both Equifax and Experian are credit referencing agencies. They use slightly different scales to present your credit rating – but both can provide lenders with some of the information they need to decide whether they’re willing to provide you with car finance.

If you apply for car finance shortly before applying for a mortgage, this can affect your mortgage price. However, if you have a mortgage in place already, it will have no impact.

If you make numerous applications for car finance, repeated credit checks can impact your score negatively. Your approach to paying back the loan will decide longer-term credit score effects – but if you pay on time, it could well go up.

In the short term, applying for a car loan can lower your credit score. However, over time if you make your repayments ontime, it can help you to build your score.

The best way to get car finance with a poor credit rating is to take steps to rebuild your credit history, such as ensuring you’re on the electoral register, making payments on time and using ‘rebuilder’ credit cards.