How to buy a second-hand car with a bad credit record

It often happens that when the time comes to change our car, we don’t have enough money for it. Many people believe that taking a loan from a bank is the only solution available to them, and having a bad credit record automatically eliminates that possibility, so there’s nothing they could do in that case. But it’s not so in actual fact: bad credit history doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle, and besides, there’re alternative options if a bank loan is out of the question.

Here, we shall consider various strategies that could be employed in the situation and look at some specific options available to those who would like to buy second-hand cars specifically in Philadelphia area.

Financial experts’ advice

If you choose to consult financial experts on the question of how to buy a car with bad credit, you’ll find that most of their recommendations fall into one of the three categories. One is, find somebody to lend you some cash. The second one is, stop going out, become vegetarian and save, save, save. And if all else fails, there’s always the third one, which is: you don’t need a car, our public transport is fine, and walking is good for you anyway; or at least, look at one of those cars that used to be so popular in Sheffield back in the 90’s.

Actually, none of these recommendations really answers the question, but let’s briefly focus on each one in order to see if we could at least learn something useful from them. And before we do that, it makes sense to check whether our credit record is really bad, in the first place.

Check your credit report for possible errors

Statistics reveal that approximately 20% of American citizens discover some or other errors in their credit reports. Such errors may make your record look a lot worse than it really is, thus significantly reducing your chances for a good loan, so you may as well begin by eliminating that risk from the list. As a US citizen, you’re entitled to receive a free copy of your annual credit report, and should you happen to find any errors in it, you may notify the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and, preferably, the creditor too. If the latter fails to resolve the issue within a month, you may file a complaint in the CFPB.

In case there’re no errors, you can ask your creditors to delete some negative items that seriously hurt your record in exchange for your agreement to settle your debt. Few would accept such a cheeky proposal, so prepare yourself, if they agree to do it, to reward them with something, like reducing your debt to 30%, for example. And if your record is still bad after all, we return to the experts’ recommendations.

Find somebody to lend you money

This is the most logical advice, of course, and it would save you a lot of hassle if some friend of yours could help you buy a car, but in most cases it would probably come to “Hi Daddy!” There’s one seemingly more sophisticated variation on the theme, which is to find somebody to co-sign your loan. The problem is, who would be willing to do that for you, considering your bad credit history? So, you’re back to “Hi Daddy!”

Nevertheless, there’s something you could do along that line. Some private lenders advertise their services to people with bad or no credit records, and you’ll many of them in the Internet. Prepare for an enormous interest though, but if there’s really no other way you can think of, you don’t really have a choice. Some of those businesses aren’t that small actually, and a few of them specialise in car loans particularly.

Economise and save

Actually, you don’t need an expert to help you figure that out, and it’s too late to do it if you need a car now. And yet, the issue can’t be resolved with some saving strategy on your part since you’ll most probably have absolutely no chance without a down payment.

On the other hand, even a $500 down payment can make a difference in the situation. And even though a car is definitely not worth starving for, you could at least start cutting out on some entertainments temporarily in order to save for your first installment.

Live without a new car

Our public transport is really good enough, fortunately, and it is true that walking regularly is good for our health. But we’re now trying to figure out how to buy a car, so this advice doesn’t really answer our question. Still, there’s a grain of truth in it – two grains, in fact.

To begin with, you may want to consider the possibility of selling your car and use public transport or walk until you buy another one. This way, you could instantaneously build the largest part, if not all of the down payment you have to make.

Besides, a good question is whether you really need the car to be new. If you have little money and a bad credit record, and you can’t wait long, you may as well consider buying a second-hand car. Many of them are still in quite a good condition, and there’re plenty of shops that sell used cars with bad credit in Philadelphia area. These shops offer you good terms and even some financial assistance. Your bad credit record doesn’t mean you’re a bad customer, or even unique for that matter, and your case isn’t hopeless. Plus, card dealers need buyers as much as you need a car.


Having a bad credit record and limited budget doesn’t have to mean you can’t buy a car. Nor is it even anything special these days. There’re some ways for you to save money for your down payment and private lenders to help you with it too. There’re also car dealers who will consider your case nonetheless and suggest some payment options to your mutual satisfaction as well as a good selection of cars for you to choose from.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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