If you want to apply for car finance but suspect you may have a poor credit profile, or no credit history at all, you may be wondering “Can I get car finance without a credit check?”. You may be surprised to know that all regulated lenders perform credit and affordability checks as part of their commitment to responsible lending. However, this shouldn't put you off applying. There are plenty of car finance packages for those with less than perfect credit history. It is also possible to check your car finance eligibility using soft search.
No credit check car finance
If you have bad credit or even no credit, you may be searching for car finance options where you will not get a credit check. The reality is that all lenders will want to check your credit history before they loan you money.
Anyone searching for no credit check car finance will be disappointed. However, this is nothing to be worried about and there may still be options for financing a reliable car or brand-new vehicle.
Why do lenders do a credit check?
When you apply for car finance, lenders do credit checks as part of the application process to understand your financial behaviour and assess your history of handling your finances. They will be assessing your ‘creditworthiness’, or your suitability to receive financial credit. This is often based on how reliable you have been at paying back money in the past – your credit history.
Finance lenders have an obligation to lend money responsibly. It can be frustrating knowing that your finances and credit score will be scrutinised. However, this ensures that you are not lent more money than you can afford (called ‘affordability’). It also confirms that the car finance product you are sold is suitable for your circumstances.
Whilst there are some payday lenders who will offer finance without a credit check, you will be charged enormous rates of interest to accommodate the increased risk of lending. This is likely to be unaffordable for larger loans, such as buying a new or even used car.
By having a credit check done, this makes sure you are offered the correct rate of interest for your financial situation, rather than over-paying for a car finance deal.
Soft search versus hard search
When shopping around for car finance, customers can be concerned about damaging their credit scoring through multiple hard searches.
To avoid this happening, and to make it easier for you to shop around, we only do a soft credit check when you first apply. This allows us to do preliminary background checks to establish your eligibility for car finance.
The important thing about a soft credit check is that it doesn’t show on your credit file. The result is that they don’t impact on your credit score, nor do they affect your future chance of securing credit. You can have as many soft searches as you like, and only you can see them on your report. So, in some ways, this can be seen as no credit check car finance – although a hard search is required further down the line.
After a soft check, a hard search happens when you have confirmed that you are eligible for car finance and are happy to proceed with your application.
Be aware that a hard credit check will show on your credit file. It is worth bearing in mind that too many hard credit checks over a short period of time can affect your future ability to secure car finance – or any other type of finance for that matter. The reason for this is that they tell lenders about credit applications, and therefore may be a higher risk.
One of the great things about using soft search first is that you can establish your eligibility for car finance before you move ahead with a full search. When you then go on to secure car finance, so long as you keep up your repayments, you may actually improve your credit rating. You can even repair your credit file if it is damaged!
When you apply for credit or a loan, the lender will perform a credit check (sometimes called a credit search). This means that they can look at the financial information held on your credit report.
A credit check will show information such as:
- Your name and date of birth.
- Your current and previous addresses.
- Whether you are on the electoral register.
- Your credit accounts, including bank and credit card accounts, outstanding loan agreements or utility company debts. Late or default payments will show and stay on your credit report for at least six years.
- Financial associations. These are people you are financially linked with through joint credit.
- Public record information. This only covers bankruptcy, since civil judgments and tax liens were removed from any credit check in 2018.
- County Court Judgments (CCJs), bankruptcies and individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs). These stay on your report for at least six years.
- Banks and building societies. Only your overdraft is shown, not your bank statements, balances or savings.
- Any convictions of fraud, or if someone has stolen your identity and committed fraud.
Details such as salary, religion, or criminal convictions (other than fraud) are not included.
How can I check my credit score?
You may want to check your credit history before you start applying for car finance. When checking your credit score, you won’t leave a mark on your file and it can help you understand what lenders will see.
Checking your credit history is also a great opportunity to improve your credit score by ensuring that all information held on you is correct and up to date. For example, ensuring that out-of-date financial associations don’t have a negative impact on your credit score.
Your credit score is an indication of the health of your credit file and is usually scored out of 1000. The higher the score, the better your credit rating.
There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion (formally Call Credit). They hold financial information on you and are governed by the Information Commissioner’s Office or ICO.
Websites like Experian allow you to access your credit score for free.
Who will finance a car with a bad credit file?
My Car Credit has over 30 lenders on its panel and so the chances of getting you an acceptance are increased (although cannot promise guaranteed car finance). However, even people with really bad credit can get car finance, so don’t lose hope!
We have lenders that specialise in car loans for customers with damaged or poor credit. Where we match you with a lender, you will usually have to pay a higher interest rate, as you represent an increased risk for the lender. Of course, you can pay off your loan faster if you wish, and this can help to repair your credit file.
It can be helpful if you put down as large a deposit as you can afford and keep the repayment term shorter. However, it’s important not to overstretch yourself on your monthly payments.
Using a Guarantor Loan to finance a car
You may find a Guarantor Loan to be a suitable option. This is a loan where a third party that you trust (usually a family member or close friend) guarantees to make the repayments on a car loan if you fail to. Do bear in mind that you do remain responsible for the car finance agreement.
Please be aware that if you fail to make the repayments, your guarantor will become liable. If your guarantor fails to make the payments, you could both be issued with CCJs, which would affect both your abilities to obtain credit in the future.
Whilst Guarantor Loans are a great way for someone with impaired credit to get car finance, they should not be taken lightly as they come with great responsibility. You can watch a video and read more about Guarantor Loans for car finance.
How can I improve my credit score?
Another option if you have a bad credit history is to work to improve your credit score over time. The good thing about poor credit history is that it isn’t permanent. While the most scrupulous lenders might check further back for poor credit history, most details about missed payments and even court judgements won’t affect your credit status after six years.
This won’t help for car finance in the here and now, but it will make any future car finance application a little easier. Not least because you’ll be less worried about a credit check. The good news is that car finance is one of the ways to improve your credit score over time. That’s because you’ll be showing you can pay back a car loan with regular monthly payments.
Here are some other steps you can take:
Join the electoral register
If you haven’t already, you should ensure your details are on the electoral roll. Why? It’s a simple way for many lenders to check your identity and address as part of a credit check.
Check details are correct
You could also improve your credit rating by ensuring credit reference agencies have the right details for you. There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They hold information such as your address history and financial history – accounts, payments, and any defaults or IVAs.
You can see all of this information on a credit report. If you find any discrepancies, you can report them to the agency in question, who will investigate and potentially update their records. Correcting these issues could improve your poor credit score.
Stay in the same home
Constantly changing addresses is a tell-tale sign of applicants with bad credit. In contrast, keeping the same address shows stability and security to a lender, which could improve your credit score.
Be smart with spending
If you’ve been refused credit, there’s no better way to move towards good credit history than spending wisely. Staying well within your credit limit will show that you’re responsible with your money, showing other lenders that you’ll be able to keep up with payments – and minimise the risk of late payment.
Pay off your debt
Even soft credit checks will show if you have outstanding debt. This is a big red flag for most lenders and car finance companies because it shows that your current financial situation is unsustainable. As well as spending less, try to improve your current circumstances by paying off outstanding debts. This could take you one step closer to a new car in future.
Here to help
With no credit check, car finance can’t be processed. But hopefully, we’ve shown you that credit checks are nothing to be worried about. It is more than possible to check your eligibility for car finance before you have a hard credit check. What’s more, credit checks simply ensure that lenders loan you the right amount, at the right interest rate for your circumstances.
Whilst there is no such thing as ‘no credit check car finance’, we hope we’ve helped you feel more confident about applying for car finance to buy your next car!
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