If you’ve bought a car before, you will likely know it’s a hassle dealing with a car dealership and its salespeople. In the dealership’s defense, its goal is to make money, and it needs to make sure that customers can afford the car they buy. That’s where credit scores come in, and as far as car brands go, Nissan and Kia seem very inviting for folks with low credit scores.
The highest and lowest credit score car brands
According to a new study by LendingTree, Nissan and Kia customers are at the bottom of the list when it comes to their average credit score when it comes to used car loans. Nissan customers had an average credit score of about 657, while Kia customers had an average credit score of about 654. That said, while these two automakers were at the bottom, they had plenty of company.
For example, Chrysler was only slightly better as its customers had an average credit score of 659. Buick, Cadillac, and Mitsubishi also had customers who had, on average, relatively low scores, as their customers had an average credit score of about 663.
In comparison, luxury brands like Tesla and Porsche topped the list for their average credit scores. Tesla customers had an average credit score of 717, while Porsche customers had an average credit score of about 725.
Why Nissan and Kia customers had low scores
LendingTree said that a possible explanation for that was because Nissan and Kia tend to offer cheaper cars than its competitors do, and there’s a lot of truth to that. For example, the Nissan Frontier is one of the most affordable trucks on the market, and Kia’s sedans are incredibly competitive in terms of price.
Customers who are looking to buy a cheaper car may not have much money lying around in the first place. There are many reasons why that could be, and some of those reasons may be related to their low credit score. That said, LendingTree also has evidence that suggests that this may not be the case.
LendingTree wrote that, while customers who bought cars like the Mini Cooper typically had low credit scores, they also had relatively good incomes. This ultimately made their car affordable for them, despite their low credit scores. This simply highlights that dealerships will typically look at more than your credit score, and your income can be an essential factor.
How much credit do you actually need?
As LendingTree said, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a spike in used car prices, which means that customers shopping for a cheap car may have to pay more for it in the long run. That’s where having a good credit score can be handy, as it can lower the interest rate and, as a result, lower the amount of money you have to pay for it, according to NerdWallet.
NerdWallet said that used car buyers with credit scores below 600 could expect to get an interest rate of, on average, anywhere between 17.74% and 20.45%. In comparison, folks with higher credit scores can get interest rates that are in the single digits. Depending on how long the loan terms are, that’s a massive amount of interest that folks with low credit scores are paying compared to folks with higher credit scores.
That said, for some folks, getting a car is more important than how much they’ll have to pay for it. Luckily, NerdWallet wrote that 30% of people who got a car loan have a credit score below 600, so bad credit may not stop folks from having a car.