Does Taking a Car Loan Affect Your Credit Score?

Does Taking a Car Loan Affect Your Credit Score

Obtaining a car loan can impact your credit profile in various ways. When you take on more debt, your credit score may experience a minor decrease. However, this dip can be temporary and is typically offset as you consistently make timely loan repayments.

If you’re eager to understand how a car loan can influence your credit score, this article will provide valuable insights into:

  1. The effects of car loans on credit scores
  2. Strategies to prevent a drop in your credit score due to a car loan
  3. Other factors that can affect your credit score negatively

How Car Loans Influence Your Credit Score

When you apply for a car loan, lenders will conduct a hard inquiry on your credit report. This inquiry can temporarily lower your credit score by approximately 5-10 points for up to a year.

Once your car loan is approved, your credit score may decrease because you now have additional debt. However, the positive news is that this drop can be quickly mitigated as long as you consistently make on-time payments.

Timely payments play a crucial role in building higher credit scores. Payment history has the most significant impact on your FICO score, accounting for 35% of it. FICO scores are the most commonly used models by lenders during car loan applications.

Car loans can also enhance your credit mix, which constitutes 10% of your FICO score. Maintaining a healthy combination of credit cards (or other revolving credit) and installment credit (such as car loans) in your credit history can reassure auto lenders of your creditworthiness. It demonstrates your ability to manage various types of credit accounts effectively.

If you currently only have revolving credit, like a credit card, adding an installment credit account, such as an auto loan, can improve your credit score and increase your chances of getting approved by auto lenders.

Moreover, obtaining a car loan with cashback can be beneficial for your credit score. You can use the cashback funds to pay down a portion of your credit card balance, reducing the amount you need to repay later on.

Another strategy to reduce your overall auto loan amount is to save for a down payment. Making a substantial initial payment toward the principal of the car loan can result in lower interest rates throughout the loan term.

Other Factors Impacting Your Credit Score

Aside from payment history and credit mix, several other factors can influence your credit or FICO score:

  1. Amount Owed (30% of your score): This factor is crucial and is reflected in your credit utilization ratio. This ratio measures how much of your available credit you are using and indicates how reliant you are on non-cash funds. To calculate it, divide your current revolving credit usage by the sum of all revolving credit limits. Keeping this ratio low and spending within your means is advisable to maintain a healthy credit profile.
  2. Credit History Length (15% of your score): The length of your credit history significantly impacts your credit scores. Longer credit histories typically result in higher scores. This aspect encompasses the average age of all your accounts, the age of your oldest credit account, and the age of your newest credit account.
  3. New Credit (10% of your score): This factor considers the number of recently opened credit accounts and the hard inquiries made by lenders. Applying for credit with multiple auto lenders simultaneously can lead to numerous hard inquiries, which may harm your credit score. Therefore, it’s wise to be selective when choosing auto lenders to minimize the impact on your credit.

Does Taking a Car Loan Affect Your Credit Score?

Minimum Credit Score for a Cash Loan

When considering a cash loan as an option, it’s important to note that lenders or dealers typically approve borrowers with credit scores of 660 or higher. This higher credit score suggests lower risk for lenders.

Qualifications for a Car Loan

If you’re ready to secure a car loan, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility criteria, including:

  1. Proof of Residency (Canadian residency is required).
  2. A valid Canadian Driver’s License.
  3. Meeting the age of majority requirements in your territory or province.
  4. Proof of Income.
  5. Proof of Car Insurance.
  6. Consent for a Credit Rating Check.
  7. A Good Credit Score.

Keep in mind that specific car loan requirements may vary among lenders, but these are the fundamental prerequisites you should prepare to meet.

Paying Off Your Car Loan Early

Paying off your car loan ahead of schedule won’t negatively impact your credit score. In fact, it can have several advantages:

  1. Improved Credit Rating: Early payments can help boost your credit rating, demonstrating responsible financial behavior.
  2. Positive Monthly Impact: Regular monthly payments have a more significant influence on your credit score and rating than a lump-sum payment.
  3. Debt Management: Paying off your car loan early allows you to allocate funds towards more essential debts, enhancing your overall financial well-being.

However, it’s crucial to be aware of potential pay-off penalties that may apply. In such cases, you should carefully evaluate whether paying the penalty fee or adhering to the monthly deadline is the more cost-effective option. Reviewing the terms and conditions with your auto lender can provide valuable insights.


FAQ 1: Does taking a car loan affect your credit score?

Answer: Yes, taking out a car loan can impact your credit score. When you apply for a car loan, the lender typically conducts a hard inquiry on your credit report. This inquiry can result in a temporary decrease in your credit score, typically by a few points. However, how you manage the car loan afterward can have both positive and negative effects on your credit score.

FAQ 2: Can paying a car loan on time improve my credit score?

Answer: Yes, making timely payments on your car loan can have a positive impact on your credit score. Payment history is a significant factor in determining your credit score, and consistently paying your car loan installments on time demonstrates responsible financial behavior and can help improve your credit score over time.

FAQ 3: Will paying off a car loan early hurt or help my credit score?

Answer: Paying off a car loan early is unlikely to hurt your credit score; in fact, it can be beneficial. Early repayment of a loan shows responsible financial management and can positively influence your credit rating. However, it’s essential to review your loan agreement for any prepayment penalties that may apply.

FAQ 4: How long does a car loan stay on your credit report?

Answer: Car loans typically stay on your credit report for the duration of the loan and up to seven years after it’s paid off, depending on the credit reporting agency’s policies. The exact reporting period may vary, but it generally reflects your credit history accurately during the time the loan was open.

FAQ 5: Can a car loan negatively impact my credit score if I miss payments?

Answer: Yes, missing payments on your car loan can have a detrimental effect on your credit score. Payment history is a crucial factor in determining your creditworthiness, and late or missed payments can result in negative marks on your credit report, leading to a lower credit score. It’s vital to communicate with your lender and explore options if you encounter difficulties in making payments to avoid this negative impact on your credit.


In conclusion, these are the essential aspects to understand regarding how a car loan can impact your credit score. Instead of allowing it to negatively affect your credit, aim for a financial approach that serves your best interests.

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