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If you have bad credit, or have ever had a bad credit score, purchasing or leasing a car, truck or SUV from a dealership (or securing a loan through any lender) can be stressful, especially if it's your first time. We've found that some of our customers have yet to work on improving their credit. So, we've created a list of tips that you may find useful when shopping for your next vehicle. To learn a bit about the financial side of car buying, keep reading!

Check Your Credit Score Beforehand

Checking your credit report may be uncomfortable, but it's always better to know the details of your financial situation before applying for credit. Your credit score and history are important pieces of information that lenders and dealers will use to determine your creditworthiness. So, if they're checking your information, you should already know it, too. Typically, a score above 700 is considered good for automotive loans. A good score can qualify you for lower interest rates. There are several factors that are considered in calculating your credit score, such as how long your financial accounts have been open, the number of accounts and the consistency and percentage of minimum payments made.

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Improve Score and Fix Credit Errors

If you have a score below 700, you should consider improving it before applying for a loan. While our finance center has worked with a variety of credit scores and histories, it may be more beneficial to you in the long run to raise your score before committing to a large loan. Plus, you'll most likely receive a higher interest rate if your score is lower. A good idea is also to check for any errors in your credit report, as these can reduce your score — you may see a big increase in your score when all is right again.

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Make a Budget and Get Pre-Approved

You should determine how much you're willing to spend on a vehicle. This decision should be based on your needs (for example, larger vehicles are typically more expensive), your bank account and how long you plan on making payments. Once you've decided on a budget that includes car insurance and an estimate on annual repairs and maintenance, it's time to get pre-qualified with our online form.

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Big Down Payment and Shorter Term

If you've been pre-approved, congratulations! That means you're one step closer to owning your next car, truck or SUV! After your test drive, you'll discuss your options for financing with our financial experts. We recommend placing as much down as you can swing and a loan term that's no longer than 60 months. However, depending on your credit situation, those numbers will vary by a person's personal situation. But, you should always plan on paying off your loan early if possible. Your credit score will thank you.

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What if I Get Denied?

Never fear. While it can be stressful, there are options available to you if you've been denied for a loan. Consider asking someone you trust to be a co-signer, or try to tackle the debt you already have to improve your score. Always remember that it requires patience and diligence when it comes to finances; don't be discouraged if it takes months or even years to see the credit score you want. Our experts are always just a phone call away if you want to discuss your options in greater detail.

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At Roc E-Z Auto, we work with customers from a variety of financial situations. If you're concerned about what kind of vehicle you can afford, come visit us at 5018 W Ridge Rd, Spencerport, NY 14559. We look forward to serving our customers from Rochester, Greece, Hilton, Churchville and Clarkson.