How much could you afford to borrow with a car loan?

How much could you afford to borrow with a car loan?

We know that everyone's situation is unique and we aim to help you find the right product for you. We may receive compensation when you visit our partners' sites or are approved for their products. You can read more about how we maintain editorial independence and how we make money here.

Determine your borrowing power to see how much you could afford with an auto loan.

You’re ready to buy a car — and even have your eye on the new Nissan Leaf electric car. But can you afford it?

Your borrowing power dictates how much money a lender will lend you — and really how much you can afford. If monthly payments from a loan puts too much pressure on your cash flow, that’s an indicator that your borrowing power isn’t as powerful as you think. Before taking out any kind of loan, understand what your personal borrowing power is.

car.Loan.com Car Loans

Our top pick: car.Loan.com Car Loans

Get matched with a local car dealership to finance your car purchase. Bad credit, no credit OK.

  • Specializing in 'buy here, pay here' car loans. No banks or credit unions.
  • Typically hear back from a rep within 24 hours.
  • Free loan-matching service. No obligation offers.

    Why your borrowing power matters for car loans

    Understanding your borrowing power can help you save time and limit the number of loans you apply for. Knowing what loans you can afford helps by narrowing the list of lenders, helping you find the best rates for your creditworthiness. Once a lender checks your credit, it’s been recorded, even if you decide not accept the offer. If lenders see multiple inquiries on your credit report, you may be seen as high risk — making it harder to be approved for a loan down the road.

    Knowing how much you can afford also makes it easier to shop for the best car for you. You’ll know which makes and models to skip over because they’re out of your price range and which ones are just right for your budget.

    Find a car loan that’s right for you

    Rates last updated July 22nd, 2018

    Reveal your potential loan offers and rates

    Answer two quick questions to filter the loan offers and get the best one for you.

    Select your credit score range

    I don't know my credit score

    Finally, select where you live.

    To get your credit score:

    Experian logo

    Experian is a leading provider of personal and business credit reporting. Find out your FICO score now for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.

    Unfortunately, none of the personal loan providers offer loans for that credit score. If you are in urgent need of a small loan, you might want to consider a short term loan.
    Name Product Product Description Minimum Credit Score Term of Loan Requirements
    car.Loan.com Car Loans
    Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
    300
    Varies by lender
    Must be at least 18 years old, a US citizen with a current US address and employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income.
    Auto Credit Express Car Loans
    Get connected with an auto lender near you, even if you have bad credit.
    300
    Typically 3 to 6 years
    Must be at least 18 years old and a current resident of the US or Canada. Must be employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month.
    LendingClub Auto Refinancing
    Lower your monthly car payments and save on interest through a fast and easy online application process.
    Fair or poor credit
    Minimum of 2 years
    Car must be less than 10 years old with fewer than 120,000 miles. Current loan must have a balance between $5,000 and $55,000 and at least 24 months left in its term.
    myAutoloan.com Car Loans
    Get up to four offers in minutes through one simple application. Multiple financing types available including new cars, used cars and refinancing.
    550
    24 to 84 months
    Must be at least 18+ years old; have a Social Security number; make $24,000+/year; have no open bankruptcies.
    LendingTree Auto Loans
    Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out.
    670
    Typically 1 to 7 years
    Must be a US citizen and 18+ years old. Must have good to excellent credit.
    Capital One Auto Financing
    You could qualify for a car loan of up to 40000, but not all dealers accept this bank's financing.
    Good to excellent credit
    36 to 72 months
    At least 18 years old, have a valid street address, have existing Capital One accounts in good standing. Car must be a 2006 model or newer with less than 120,000 miles.
    Wells Fargo Auto Loans
    Auto loans with high loan amounts to cover your car purchase or refinancing needs.
    Good to excellent credit
    1 to 6 years
    Your income and assets must support your existing debt obligations and the desired loan amount.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How lenders determine your borrowing power

    Lenders consider your monthly living costs and weigh them against your monthly income to see whether you can afford loan payments. However, it gets more involved when you start factoring in:

    • Multiple incomes
    • Credit card and loan debts
    • People who are financially dependent on you

    Debt-to-income ratio and how much you can borrow

    Another important factor that’s rolled in to how much you can borrow is your debt-to-income ratio. A good rule of thumb is that the debt you pay each month should account for no more than 40% of your monthly income — anything much higher may be seen as a red flag.

    When it comes to your vehicle, financial specialists recommend that no more than 20% of your monthly take-home pay should be used towards car expenses.

    How to calculate your monthly expenses

    You should calculate your monthly expenses before you apply to give yourself a detailed breakdown of your budget. This will help you figure out if you have room for another expense. Look at your personal finances, including:

    • Essentials. Think about how much you spend on housing, food, utilities, commuting and other essentials you can’t live without.
    • Extras. What do you spend when you go out to eat? Is shopping for clothes twice a month something you can give up? An ideal loan won’t require you to make significant lifestyle changes. If you’re stretching your budget, a loan may not be the right financial move.
    • Costs of owning and maintaining a car. These include vehicle registration, licensing, insurance, gas, repair costs and countless others. Leave yourself some financial leeway.
    • Debts. Loan payments and credit card bills can add up each month. If they’re not taken care of when the bill is due, you could damage your credit score.

    How to increase your borrowing power

    There are a few different ways to convince lenders that you’re capable of taking on a bigger loan, however, it may take some time and effort. A few strategies you can use to get a bigger loan in the future are:

    • Spend less. Drawing up a budget and sticking with it can free up some cash flow and help you create less debt. And once your start spending less, you can take those savings and knock down whatever debt you’ve accumulated in the past.
    • Improve your credit score. Paying bills on time, decreasing your debt-to-income ratio, using your credit card responsibly and correcting mistakes on your credit report can nudge your score in the right direction.
    • Eliminate your debt. Cutting your debt minimizes your credit utilization ratio, showing lenders that you’re not desperate for a line of credit.
    • Ask for a pay raise. Doing a great job at work and think you deserve a raise? Draw up a case as to why you deserve a pay increase. This extra bump will decrease your debt-to-income ratio and make you appear as a more attractive borrower.
    • Compare. Every lender may look at your ability to borrow differently. This is why it’s extremely important to get a few quotes and do your research before moving forward with the first loan offer.
    • Get a cosigner. A cosigner promises to take care of the loan if you default, increasing your borrowing power. Only ask someone to be a cosigner if you’re sure you’ll have no problem making the payments on your loan.

    Bottom line

    Remember to take into account all fees and taxes including the cost of the vehicle when determining how much you can spend on a car. Now that you know what to expect from lenders and what kind of borrowing power you have, you’re ready to compare compare car loans.

    Frequently asked questions

    Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

    Ask an Expert

    You are about to post a question on finder.com:

    • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
    • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
    • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
    • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

    Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
    Go to site