Preparing to apply for a car loan

Applying for an auto loan is easy these days, but it still pays to prepare. Follow some simple steps and complete your application with confidence.


Preparing to apply for a car loan infographic

1. Check your credit reports

Request your reports from the major credit bureaus to check for errors and dispute any you may find. Correcting mistakes is relatively quick – typically 10-14 business days according to Experian – and can be an easy way to give your credit score a lift.




2. Set a budget

Use an affordability calculator to gauge how much you can spend on a car in total, and a car loan calculator to estimate a monthly payment. Consider running costs like insurance, fuel and maintenance, too.




3. Research affordable cars

With your budget in mind, look for cars that meet your needs. This will help you decide whether a new or used vehicle is the way to go, and whether you need a loan for a dealer or private-party purchase.




4. Get insured

You’ll need insurance to qualify for a loan and take possession of a car, so look into costs and tee up appropriate coverage for the kind of vehicle you want. Full coverage is normally required when financing a car.




5. Gather income documentation

Make sure you have income information at hand to complete your application. Online lender RoadLoans, for example, asks for your taxable and nontaxable income to be included. Proof of income requirements vary by lender and can include pay stubs, bank statements and the like.




6. Get current rates

Check out average auto loan rates by credit score, available at sites such as, so you’ll know what kind of APR to expect if approved. The better your credit, the better your rate is likely to be.




7. Seek preapproval

Look for a lender that enables you to apply for financing before you visit the dealership. Recommended by the Consumer Financial Bureau, this approach can save you time, hassle and money on a car purchase.




Complete your application online

Now that you’re prepared, go ahead and submit your auto loan application. At, you can apply in minutes and get an instant decision.


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