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Happy Car Deals, Even with Bad Credit: 10 Things to Bring to the Dealership

When purchasing a vehicle, preparation is key, especially for subprime customers. As someone with credit challenges or a limited credit history, having the right information at hand can streamline the car-buying process and increase your chances of securing a favorable deal. Here’s a comprehensive checklist of what subprime customers should bring with them when purchasing a vehicle from a dealership with subprime financing experience:

  1. Proof of Identity and Legal Residency. Ensure you have a valid driver’s license or state identification card that is not expired. Some dealerships might also request additional forms of identification, such as a passport or social security card. Having proof of legal residency, such as a utility bill or lease agreement, is also essential.
  2. Proof of Income. Demonstrate your ability to make regular payments by bringing proof of income. This could include recent pay stubs, tax returns, or bank statements. If you have other sources of income, such as alimony, child support, or disability benefits, make sure to bring documentation for those as well.
  3. Credit Information. While dealerships specializing in subprime financing understand that your credit might not be perfect, having some understanding of your credit situation is still important. Bring a copy of your credit report, if available, so that you can discuss it with the dealership’s finance team. This can help them better understand your credit challenges and work toward suitable financing options.
  4. Proof of Insurance. Most dealerships will require you to have insurance coverage before driving off the lot. Contact your insurance provider beforehand to arrange for coverage and bring proof of insurance to the dealership.
  5. References. Some subprime financing dealerships might request personal references. Be prepared to provide contact information for references who can vouch for your character and financial responsibility.
  6. Down Payment. If you’re able to make a down payment, bring the necessary funds in the form of a certified check, money order, or credit/debit card. The down payment can help reduce the overall amount financed and potentially lead to more favorable loan terms. If you have little to no money down, check out this post.
  7. Trade-In Information (if applicable). If you plan to trade in your current vehicle, bring its title, registration, and any relevant maintenance records. This information can be helpful in determining the trade-in value of your vehicle and negotiating a fair deal.
  8. Pre-Approval Documentation (if applicable). If you’ve been pre-approved for a loan from an outside lender, bring along the pre-approval documentation. This can help the dealership’s finance team understand your financing options and potentially work to secure even better terms.
  9. Questions and Clarifications. Don’t hesitate to bring a list of questions and concerns you might have about the car-buying process, financing terms, and the vehicles available. An informed customer is better equipped to make decisions that align with their financial goals.
  10. Patience and Openness. While not a tangible item, bringing patience and an open mind to the dealership is crucial. Subprime financing experts understand that the process can be intricate, and they’re there to assist you every step of the way. Be open to their suggestions and advice to find the best solution for your situation.

By bringing along these essential items, subprime customers can enhance their car-buying experience and make the most of their interactions with dealerships specializing in subprime financing. Remember that the goal is to collaborate with the dealership’s finance team to secure a suitable vehicle and financing arrangement that aligns with your financial circumstances and objectives.

Next, we cover a very common topic: MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) versus Market Value. Click Next to continue.