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Can I Lease a Car With Fair Credit?

Sept. 30, 2016
Credit Score, Personal Finance
Can I Lease a Car With Fair Credit?
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If you have fair credit and want to lease a car, you should consider how your credit score could affect your options. Your fair credit can influence the financing rates you’re offered and the types of vehicles you can lease. Before you apply to lease a car, you should take a look at your current credit situation so you know what your financing choices may be at the dealership.

When you apply to lease a car with an auto dealership, it will take a look at your credit history. What you may not realize is that the dealer will be seeing an auto-enhanced version of your credit score. This means that the dealer will specifically be evaluating your financial behavior related to cars, including possible vehicle repossessions, settled or declared bankruptcies on auto loans, and late payments on car loans.

This score may be different from your normal fair credit score because your car-related financial history weighs these factors more heavily than do your normal credit history and score. Unfortunately, you can’t request or buy these auto-enhanced scores like you can with your standard credit score.

Why a respectable auto-enhanced score is key

It’s important to have a decent auto-enhanced score because it will encourage the dealer and its chosen lender to offer you better interest rates and financing options. A car lease is usually a large financial commitment for anyone — even if it is spread over a period of time — so landing the best rates could save you money.

What can you do to heighten your chances of securing a great lease? Ideally, you would take steps to upgrade your fair credit to good so that you have access to more attractive financing rates and a wider range of vehicles, as well as not having to stress about your auto-enhanced score.

Your first move should be to check your credit reports for errors. If you find some, disputing credit report errors is a fairly easy and quick way to build your credit. Once the corrections are made, your score can rise within just a few months. That might boost you up to good credit. If not, you can work on other parts of your credit profile, like repayment history.

In the end, it’s best to wait to lease a car until after you add enough points to your credit score to move from fair to good credit.

This article was updated Sept. 30, 2016.