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Is it Better to Buy or Lease a Car After Bankruptcy?
If you want to get approved on the best terms possible when buying a car, it’s important to know the lender’s credit guidelines before you apply for a loan…especially if you’ve been through bankruptcy.
This will save you time and frustration – but more importantly, it will help you avoid credit inquiries that can lower your FICO credit scores by up to 12 points per inquiry.
Step 1 in making a lease or purchase decision is to determine the lender’s credit guidelines.
You start by asking if they make loans to bankrupt people. If so, under what conditions?
This is true. You must be upfront about declaring bankruptcy. Don’t hide it. We have to face the fact that some dealers simply won’t work with people who have declared bankruptcy. So our job is to find those who do.
Some lenders will only rent to people in bankruptcy. Others will only offer purchase finance. Still, others will only make loans using a hybrid of the two—this is especially common in Texas.
Ask the dealership’s CFO to guide you on what structure the manufacturer prefers.
And here’s a quick tip for you: If your bankruptcy doesn’t show up on the credit report your lender pulls – then, in the lender’s eyes, you’re not bankrupt.
The only lenders I would consider using are:
– First choice: Captive creditors (car manufacturers)
– Second choice: Banks (not financial companies)
– Third choice: Credit Unions
Ninety-nine percent of the cars I’ve leased over the years have been from pawn shops. Only one was leased from a bank.
This particular deal came from a conversation I had with Amy, the finance manager at the local Land Rover dealership here in Indianapolis. I told her I was open to her financing recommendations, but I preferred financing through the car manufacturer.
I told her my current FICO scores. She immediately said that my results could be handled better through a local bank. I signed a credit application and told her to do it.
The next day I signed a lease with this local bank. Being open to her advice literally saved me hundreds of dollars a month on this car.
So be flexible…but careful. It seems most car dealers refer to all their financing sources as banks. When in reality some are banks, some are credit unions, and most are secondary finance companies.
Here is a list of some of the most commonly used auto finance mortgage companies:
1. HSBC Automotive
2. Capital one
4. WFS Finance
You want to pass on high-risk financial companies – unless you’ve exhausted all other options. Subordinated creditors should be your last resort.
And only use credit unions if they report to all three national credit reporting agencies. How do you know if a credit union reports to all three credit reporting agencies?
Simple – you ask. Ask the branch manager at the credit union if they report. And once you get the loan, check all three of your credit reports and make sure their trade line appears on each of them.
The three worst luxury real estate lenders to lease or buy after bankruptcy are:
The three worst primary lenders are:
What makes them the worst?
Once these creditors see that you have declared bankruptcy, they are less likely to work with you. However, if they are willing to work with you, they will want you to have at least a few years post-discharge and perfect credit during that time.
Now that I’ve told you how bad the above six lenders are – there are times when they can offer you good deals. For example, if one of the above happens to be the largest dealer in your area, they may be able to offer you special offers that a smaller dealer cannot.
Of course, things change all the time with car lenders. They change their credit guidelines on a whim to meet their own financial goals. So it’s always a good idea to at least research these dealerships – just don’t get your hopes up.
OK, so you’ve done your research and narrowed down your choices to one or two car manufacturers.
Step 2 in deciding whether to lease or buy is to purchase your FICO credit scores.
It’s important to have your recent results when talking to car dealers (just like I did with Amy). This puts you on top.
When you walk into a dealership with your FICO scores, the dealer will know you’re a more informed consumer and can’t take advantage of it. Just know that the FICO credit scores that car dealers use are slightly different than what we as consumers see. The scores that dealers review are called FICO Auto Industry Option Scores. The good news… these FICO scores may be higher than your normal FICO scores if you have paid all previous car loans as agreed.
Some car dealers have told me that if your FICO scores are higher than the scores the dealer is reviewing – they may even use your scores to get you a better deal.
You can purchase your results at myFICO.com.
Step 3 is to interview the remaining car dealers at a deeper level.
Start by asking them the following questions:
– Which credit reporting agency do you use to make a loan decision?
– What is your minimum credit score to be approved?
– What credit score is needed to get the best interest rate?
– Do your creditors prefer to offer lease or purchase financing to a debtor in bankruptcy?
– What incentives are there to lease or buy right now?
At this point, it’s important to remain open to leasing or buying. Evaluate your options and incentives. Remember, you are buying the financing. In other words, the most important factor is the lender’s willingness to lend you money.
I personally look at the lease vs. buy decision in three ways:
1. If you’re recently recovering from bankruptcy, the only thing that matters is whether you can get approved at an interest rate you can afford through a lender that reports to the three national credit reporting agencies. So you should only consider bankruptcy friendly lenders.
2. Once your credit scores start to increase, you can start selecting cars based on the credit reporting agency that the lender uses to determine if you qualify. Obviously, you should choose the lender that uses your highest FICO credit score to make a loan decision.
3. When your scores are high enough…or it’s been two years since your bankruptcy…or your bankruptcy doesn’t show up on the credit report the lender uses, then you can choose almost any car you like. But make sure you still do your research and use your credit scores to help you compare interest rates, terms and incentives.
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