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Car loans for single parents

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How to finance a family car when you only have one income coming in.

As a single parent, it can be difficult to find a car loan you’re eligible for if you can’t meet a lender’s minimum income requirements. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are lenders out there willing to work with low-income borrowers — especially if you have a good credit history.

Why might a single parent not be approved for a car loan?

Although it’s illegal for lenders to discriminate based on marital status, it can be difficult to qualify for a car loan as a single parent if you don’t have a strong income. Many lenders have minimum requirements that can be difficult to meet on a single income — especially if you’re only working part time or on government assistance.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t be approved. If you have sufficient income and a good credit history, you’ll likely still be able to qualify for many car loans.

car.Loan.com Car Loans

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.

    Compare car loan options

    Check out the requirements for each car loan provider before applying.

    Name Requirements Go to site
    LightStream Auto Loans
    LightStream Auto Loans
    Good or excellent credit, enough income or assets to afford a new loan, US citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old Go to site More
    LendingClub Auto Refinancing
    LendingClub Auto Refinancing
    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. Go to site More
    RateGenius Auto Loan Refinance
    RateGenius Auto Loan Refinance
    Income of $2,000+/month, vehicle has less than 150,000 miles and is no older than 8 years, loan balance is between $10,000 and $100,000, debt-to-income ratio is less than 50% Go to site More
    LendingTree Auto Loans
    LendingTree Auto Loans
    Must be a US citizen and 18+ years old. Must have good to excellent credit. Go to site More

    Car loan types to consider

    From traditional secured car loans to leasing a car through a dealer, you have a few options to consider as a single parent.

    Loan typeLoan amountInterest ratesLoan features
    Secured car loans$3,000 to $100,0004% to 13%
    • Uses your vehicle as collateral.
    • Lower interest rates.
    • Larger loan amounts available.
    Read more
    Unsecured car loansUp to $50,0005% to 36%
    • No collateral required.
    • Doesn’t require full insurance coverage.
    • Interest rates tend to be higher.
    Read more
    Personal loansUp to $100,0005% to 36%
    • Can be both secured and unsecured.
    • Few restrictions on loan purpose.
    • Competitive interest only available to those with good to excellent credit.
    Read more
    Car leasesFull value of vehicle3% to 10%
    • Restrictions on mileage.
    • Low monthly payments.
    • May require a steep initial fee.
    • Won’t own car at the end of your contract.
    Read more

    How can I compare my car loan options?

    Keep these factors in mind when comparing your car loan offers:

    • Eligibility criteria. Most lenders have minimum income and credit score requirements to qualify. Reach out first to make sure you’re eligible before filling out a full application.
    • Interest rate. Interest accounts for the main cost of your car loan and can be fixed or variable. Fixed rates stay the same throughout the life of your loan and can be easier to budget for. Variable rates can go lower — or higher — than fixed rates based on changes in the lending market.
    • Fees. Ask about any origination, late payment or NSF fees you may incur. Some lenders also charge a prepayment penalty if you make extra payments or pay off your loan before your term is up.
    • Loan terms. Most car loans come with terms from one to seven years. Choosing a longer term can make your monthly payments more affordable, but you’ll pay more in interest in the long run.
    • Required add-ons. Some lenders require you to have full-coverage auto insurance or GAP insurance to cover you in case your car is totaled or stolen. Consider these extra costs when figuring out how much you can comfortably afford to borrow.

    What should I be aware of?

    When comparing your car loan options, make sure you check the reputability of the lender before applying. Some may claim to help single parents, but then charge high fees and rates that can be difficult to afford.

    Instead, stick with a bank, credit union or reputable online lender. These tend to offer lower rates, and some may even be flexible with late payment fees if you have a history of on-time repayments.

    You should also consider applying for preapproval, which allows you to check what rates and fees you might qualify for before filling out a full application. Having too many credit applications on file can lower your credit score, which can hurt your ability to qualify for lower rates.

    Compare more car loan options

    Rates last updated January 17th, 2019

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    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 Min. 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 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 employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month and be a current resident of the US or Canada.
    LightStream Auto Loans
    Quick car loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with competitive rates for borrowers with strong credit.
    Good to excellent credit
    Flexible terms
    Good or excellent credit, enough income or assets to afford a new loan, US citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old
    LendingClub Auto Refinancing
    Lower your monthly car payments and save on interest through a fast and easy online application process.
    Fair or better 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.
    RateGenius Auto Loan Refinance
    Connect with a network of over 150 lenders to refinance your car loan.
    510
    Varies
    Income of $2,000+/month, vehicle has less than 150,000 miles and is no older than 8 years, loan balance is between $10,000 and $100,000, debt-to-income ratio is less than 50%
    LendingTree Auto Loans
    Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out.
    Good to excellent credit
    Typically 1 to 7 years
    Must be a US citizen and 18+ years old. Must have good to excellent credit.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How do I apply?

    Many lenders allow you to apply online, though some banks and credit unions may ask you to visit a branch in person to fill out an application. While required information and documents varies by lender, you’ll typically be asked to provide:

    • Government-issued ID. Have your driver’s license or passport on hand when applying.
    • Proof of income. Many lenders will ask to see recent pay stubs or bank statements to confirm your income.
    • Proof of residence. This can include your current lease, mortgage statement or a utility bill to prove you live where you say you do.

    Some online lenders may be able to provide an answer almost immediately, while banks and credit unions can take as long as week to get back to you with a decision. Once approved, you typically have around 30 days to find the car you’d like to purchase and finalize the loan.

    Bottom line

    Being a single parent doesn’t have to limit your car loan options. If you have adequate income and a solid credit history, lenders will consider you just as they would a married couple or borrower without children.

    To ensure you’re getting the best deal out there, compare your options with our guide to car loans.

    Frequently asked questions

    Kellye Guinan

    Kellye Guinan is a writer and editor with finder.com and has years of experience in academic writing and research. Between her passion for books and her love of language, she works on creating stories and volunteering her time on worthy causes. She lives in the woods and likes to find new bug friends in between reading just a little too much nonfiction.

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