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How to Rebuild your Credit with Ellas Auto Outlet

1. Getting Your Auto Loan

This is the most important step in this process, because your loan choice will determine the success of the strategy. The type of auto loan you can get depends on your current financial situation, especially your credit. There are four choices for vehicle financing: bank, credit union, finance company and dealership.

Many people assume that with poor credit, their options are limited to dealer financing or a subprime finance company (one specializing in consumers with poor credit). However, Charles Bernath, an Atlanta, GA tax and credit expert, says that’s incorrect. “Usually, you can go to a credit union, so check out that option first,” he suggests. Bernath also states, “Only dealers and subprime financing companies benefit from their loans.” Therefore, if you can avoid them and their typically double-digit finance rates, do so.

Michael A. Wishnow, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, agrees. Actually, he says, “If you have a FICO score of 600 or better, you can probably get a car loan at most credit unions at single-digit interest rates.” He adds, “However, roughly only 50% of credit unions will write loans for people with FICO scores below 600.”

Banks, while more stringent than credit unions, are still better than dealer and subprime financing. But, says Jason Jewett, Personal Banker and AVP at SunTrust Bank in Laurel Springs, GA, “You’ll need a minimum credit score of 660 and clean credit report to get financed at most banks, and your finance rate depends on your credit score and history.”

Whatever your choice, do not borrow more than you can afford. Your monthly payment should fit your financial reality. So, while you may want that dream car, your vehicle is collateral for your loan. If you can’t pay your car note, you may lose the car and further damage your credit.

In fact, says consumer credit expert and author, Beverly Harzog, “Decide before you go car shopping exactly how much you'll spend, which might keep you from making an impulsive decision and financing a car that you can’t really afford.”

And, remember, the lower your FICO score, the less you’ll be lent to begin with. “With low credit scores, you should focus on a used vehicle and expect to be financed a maximum 80% of its Kelly Blue Book value,” advises Wishnow. 

Your choice of a loan type and amount, therefore, is critical to the success of this strategy.

2. Repaying Your Auto Loan

This is the most important and straightforward aspect of this credit restoration strategy. That’s because when you get an installment loan to rebuild your credit, naturally, you must pay it back. Harzog, whose latest book is The Debt Escape Plan: How to Free Yourself From Credit Card Balances, Boost Your Credit Score, and Live Debt-Free, emphasizes that “It’s critically important to make your car loan payment on time each month.” Even a single late payment can set back your credit rebuilding strategy.

Repaying your loan on time, for at least nine months to a year, will help increase your credit score. But, you’ll also have to pay all of your other bills on time, have the right mix of credit, and not have too much debt. You must manage all of your credit well. Otherwise, this strategy won’t help, and may even hurt, your credit.

3. Refinancing Your Auto Loan

“Sometimes,” says Wishnow, “your payment is affordable, but your interest rate far too high.” This is most often true if you quickly financed a vehicle because you must have one or felt forced to accept a high interest loan because of your credit. Bernath, who has refinanced all three of his daughters’ auto loans, says, “You should refinance your vehicle loan when that happens.”

And, in most cases, while you’ll need to take specific steps, you can refinance much sooner than you think. If you got a double-digit interest loan through dealer or other subprime financing, you’ll want to refinance that loan as soon as you can.

Often, if your credit score is above 600, you can go to a credit union and refinance your loan, even if it’s immediately after getting into the bad loan. But, Wishnow says, you’ll have to become a member of a credit union.

Jewett explains that if you’ve used this approach to successfully rebuild your credit and have no negative entries on your credit report, “Once your score is at 660, you can use a bank to refinance your auto loan.”

All three credit experts agree that refinancing is both a great way to reduce the amount you pay over the loan’s life and also to reduce your monthly payment, in most cases. So, pursue that as part of this plan.

If you apply all three of these steps carefully, using an auto loan to rebuild your credit is one of your fastest and best paths to boosting your FICO score.

The Past is the Past, We Finance Your Future


When people have difficulty with getting traditional financing there are options for subprime lending. Here at Ellas Auto Outlet we finance the person not the score. Let's be honest hard times can hit good people. We understand that and we are here to help.

"Subprime" doesn't have to be a dirty word when it comes to taking out a car loan to buy a new or used car.

In a perfect world, everyone benefits from low interest rates on car loans. But for a large swath of the population, that's not an option. Blame it on the effects on your finances of the Great Recession of 2008 or missteps in managing your money. Either way, a subprime credit score is not unusual.

"About 20 percent of all auto loans currently are subprime or deep subprime," says Rick Finch, vice president and general manager at LendingTree Auto Division. "Subprime loans are growing, and auto is the fastest segment."

Typically, you're considered a subprime borrower if you have a credit score of 619 or lower, Finch says. That doesn't preclude you from purchasing a car, but it will cost more because you're a greater risk in the eyes of the lender.

While everyone has considerations to take into account when buying a car, subprime borrowers have to know a little more. From understanding the ultimate cost of the vehicle to knowing your ability to meet your payments, here's a look at five things to ponder before taking out a subprime car loan.

Many car buyers go to the dealer with a monthly payment in mind and give little thought to what the ultimate cost of the car will be. As a result, the car buyer gets his or her $300-a-month payment, but that could mean a five-year loan may morph into a seven-year one.

"The longer the loan, the more interest you are paying, especially if you are buying a used car," says Chris Kukla, senior counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending. "Let's say you buy a 5-year-old car and slap a seven-year loan on that. Assuming your car can hold up 11 to 12 years, you'll still end up owing money on the car."

Knowing how much you can afford each month is prudent, but you also must figure out the interest you'll pay over the life of the car loan and any fees associated with borrowing money to determine if it's worth it. You don't want to end up in a situation where the $30,000 car ends up costing you $40,000.

"People get in trouble when they focus more on the monthly payment versus what's the total cost of ownership, including repairs, insurance and gas," says Finch of LendingTree Autos.

The phrase "It's all in the fine print" is particularly true when it comes to subprime car loans. After all, you are a risk and the lender is going to protect itself, usually by charging you more in fees. But the discrepancies between those fees can be great from one dealer to the next, which is why you need to know what you are signing.

"You need to be diligent in reading all the fine print and understanding what types of fees you are going to incur," says Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insight at ALG, the automobile industry research company. "There are various ways that lenders get compensation for their risk."

One common fee that lenders charge is a loan origination fee, but what one dealer charges can vary greatly from the next. "One lender's origination fee might be $500 while another might be $1,500 for the same car," he says.

Lyman says combing over all the details of a car loan will ensure that you won't be surprised by any unforeseen costs. What's more, knowing the fees ahead of time will put you in a better position when you are negotiating the purchase price and auto loan terms.

Everyone needs a mode of transportation. But before borrowing money, borrowers with credit problems need to think about the ramifications of not paying back an auto loan. After all, you don't want to end up in a worse credit situation because you can't afford your ride.

"When borrowing money, you need to make a realistic assessment of yourself and your capabilities," says Lawrence White, professor of economics at New York University Stern School of Business. "You need to think longer term rather than, 'I need this today and will worry about it tomorrow.'"

Industry experts say that while a BMW may be an appealing vehicle for your commute, your credit history and current household finances may make it more prudent to go with a lower-cost sedan.

"Just because it's a subprime car loan doesn't mean you shouldn't do it," says White. It's more about how much you need the car, did you get a good price on the car and can you afford to pay back the loan, he says.

If you have a credit score over 680, chances are you'll have auto lenders banging at your door to offer you low-interest car loans. Have a score below that and there may be no one calling.

"If you are a consumer with credit challenges, whether that's because you don't have a lot of credit history or missed payments, you have more work to do," says Kukla of the Center for Responsible Lending. "If you have a score below 680, the number of lenders willing to give you a loan decreases pretty rapidly."

While prime borrowers can easily get a low-interest auto loan from the bank down the street, Kukla says consumers with bad credit only have a couple of options: They can turn to the Internet or rely on a dealer.

If the dealer route is under consideration, know that it can be costly.

"One of the biggest misconceptions we see out there perpetuated by dealers is that they do business with dozens of lenders," Kukla says. "Nothing could be farther from the truth. The dealer is looking for the best loan for them, not the consumer."

When it comes to borrowing money when you have bad credit, you have to be able to take rejection. That's because you are likely to be turned down multiple times before you find a lender who will give you the money. On the other hand, you also don't want to assume the lender or bank will say no just because you have credit challenges without giving it a try.

Kukla says he hears plenty of stories of consumers who assumed a bank or credit union wouldn't give them financing only to learn later that they could have gotten it, and gotten it much cheaper, if they had asked.

"Never assume you can't get credit," Kukla says. "The worst thing you will hear is the word 'no.'"


How do I choose the right vehicle?

Finding the perfect car for you might seem like an insurmountable task. Something fraught with unknowns, potentially pricey mistakes, and lots of time spent with annoying salespeople. Fear not, dear Instamotor reader, we have you covered. We’re here to take the fear out of choosing the right car. If you follow the advice below, we’re 99% sure you’ll find something that both you and your pocketbook will love.

Assess Your Needs

First assess your needs. Take inventory of what you like to do on the weekends, how many people you haul, how much time you spend commuting. Are you going to need room for car seats? What about towing? Think about how much you’d like to spend on gas, diesel, or electricity, (depending on the type of power your car will have) and how often you might need to fill up. Think about what you want to communicate to the world with your automobile. The kind of car you drive communicates a specific set of perspectives. Do you want to be associated with some and not with others? What are they? What are your own stereotypes around specific brands of cars? If a Buick makes your skin crawl but a Porsche makes your jaw drop, take those factors into consideration.

Other things to consider when you’re assessing your needs are the kinds of roads you drive on. Are they mostly surface streets or highways? Rough or smooth? Does it snow or ice where you live? Will you need to travel in extreme weather? Do you need all-wheel or four-wheel drive to get to and from work? Also consider what you want in your car—whether it’s navigation or specific safety features, it’s important to know what you expect your car to be able to do. You’ll be spending a good chunk of your income on a car and a considerable amount of time in it, so be sure to be honest when answering these questions. It will help you make a better decision when it comes time to sign on the dotted line.

Narrow Down Your Options

There are some resources out there that you can use to help you hone down your list of desirable cars. Autobytel has a fun calculator that lets you choose the “kind of car” you’d want for your personality. Once you choose a category you can use the slider at the left to narrow a price range. Another good resource can be found over at Cars.com. Their “Vehicle Recommender” uses the answers you give to basic questions, to help you hone your choices down. If you find you are more interested in getting a car that will be a bit greener, visit CarMax. There they have a good resource for research on alternative fuel vehicles.

Figure Out How Much You Can Afford

Once you have a better idea of what exactly you want, it’s time to do the number crunching. The FTC estimates that the average cost of a new car is around $30,000. That’s a big chunk of cash to spend and you should take as much time as you need to figure out exactly what you want. It is, after all, your hard earned cash. Keep in mind that you can get a used car that could be just as good as a new car and save thousands, according to Autotrader.com. That savings and reliability, all depends on the age, mileage, type, and desirability of the car that you are looking at. The second step in determining the right car for you is to take a close look at your budget. Unless you’re paying cash for your car, you have to really take a good hard look at what you can afford to pay on a monthly basis. The best way to tackle this is to look at what your monthly outlay currently is. Take into consideration costs like housing, transportation, parking, insurance, cell phone bills, grocery shopping and going out, sports or gym memberships etc. Once you’ve collected all of your relevant bills, you can start to get a better idea of what you can afford to spend, per month, on a car. The general rule of thumb is that you don’t want to spend more than 20% of your take home on any car, whether its new-to-you or a brand new car off the lot. Don’t over leverage yourself. It will damage your credit and put you in a financial bind as time progresses. Once you’ve set your budget and set your mind to what kind of car you think you’d like it’s time to start shopping for the right vehicle.

Do You Need Financing?

Once you’ve narrowed your list and determined your budget it’s time to think, at least preliminarily, about financing. Will you lease or buy your new or new-to-you vehicle? According to Edmunds, some cars can be cheaper to buy than to lease. It depends on a number of factors including the interest rates and rate of depreciation of the specific types of vehicles you’re looking at. Some luxury vehicles, for example, take a huge depreciation hit the moment they are driven off the lot. Others maintain or even increase in value once they’ve been bought. Part of determining the right car for you will come down to figuring out the True Cost of Ownership of a specific car. True cost of ownership (or TCO) takes into consideration things like long term depreciation as well as insurance, maintenance and other costs. If you want to learn more about TCO, check out our post, here. These are all the things you’ll need to consider when looking to buy any new car.

Car Shopping Time

Next is the fun part: locating cars for sale and test driving them. For specific used vehicles visitInstamotor to see what is available in your area. If you have a specific manufacturer in mind you can visit dealerships in the area that carry a stock of used cars. You can check to see if they have the car you want on the lot by visiting their sites and checking their inventory. We’d recommend calling ahead to make sure the specific vehicle you want is on the lot and ready to drive, as it can be a hassle to get to a dealership only to find that the car you want has already been sold or is in the shop for repairs. If you have new cars in mind, you can also visit dealerships and see if they have what you want on the floor. Sometimes dealers don’t have all the options in one car so you may have to look at a few different versions before you find the one you want. There are also times when an option may only be available on a very specific, limited run car. In that case you may have to custom order the car before you can actually experience it. That can take a few weeks or a few months depending on how backlogged a manufacturer may be. Be sure to ask for exactly what you want and find out what the added cost might be if you decide to go down this road. Be sure that you test drive any vehicle before you buy it. If you are buying used or from a private seller be sure to test drive and take the vehicle to a certified mechanic before you plunk down any hard earned cash.

Buying a new or new-to-you car should make you feel great. While it can be a bit stressful getting there, finding the right car should make you feel excited. If you climb into a car and think “blah, this is awful,” then you need to keep looking. The right car is out there, much like your true love. You just have to keep seeking it.

10 Steps to Buying a used Car

If you're looking to buy a used car, you're far from alone. Between private-party and dealership sales, nearly 40 million used cars exchange hands each year.

With so many choices, finding that one right car for you can be a challenge. So we've created a list of steps to help make finding and buying your perfect used car a breeze. If you need more personalized help along the way, reach out to the Edmunds Shopper Advice team for free assistance. You also can be paired with an Edmunds car shopping adviser, who can help you no matter where you are in the process of getting a used car. This service is also free from Edmunds. Let's get started.

Step 1: How Much Car Can You Afford?
A rule of thumb: If you're taking out a loan to pay for your car, your car payment shouldn't be more than 20 percent of your take-home pay. If you're sticking to a tight budget, you may want to spend even less. Used cars will need a little extra attention from time to time: new tires, maintenance and the like. And then there are the other ownership costs shoppers sometimes forget to account for, such as fuel and insurance.

If the car you're planning to buy is out of warranty, it might be a good idea to set aside a "just-in-case" fund to cover any unexpected repairs.

Step 2: Build a Target List of Used Cars 
It's no secret that the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry make for good used cars. But they might cost a few thousand more than a comparable Ford Fusion or Kia Optima, even though these are good cars, too. So if you're looking to save money, consider more than one brand. We suggest making a list of three cars that meet your needs and fall within your budget. Edmunds reviews have great information to guide your choices.

If you're planning to buy a vehicle that is less than 5 years old, consider one that's certified pre-owned (CPO). CPO vehicles have long-term warranties that are backed by the carmakers, not just the dealership selling it to you. Franchised dealerships that sell that same brand new are the only ones who can sell a CPO car of the same brand. So if you wanted a CPO Chevy Cruze, for example, you'd need to buy it from a Chevy dealer. 

Step 3: Check Prices 
Prices are driven in part by where you're shopping. You'll find used cars in used-car sections of new-car dealerships, independent used-car lots, used-car retailers such as CarMax and websites where private-party sellers list their cars. Of the four, private-party cars will usually have the lowest selling price. CPO cars will usually cost the most, but for the reasons we've noted. To see what other people are paying for the models you've picked out, Edmunds offers a quick way to see the average price paid for the car in your area.

Step 4: Locate Used Cars for Sale in Your Area
One easy place to start building your target list is the Edmunds used-car inventory page. To find exactly the car you want, you can filter your search by many factors including the miles on the car's odometer, its price and features, and dealer's distance from you. Use the websites for other used-car marketplaces mentioned to save time.

Step 5: Check the Vehicle History Report
Unless you're buying the car from a close friend or family member who can vouch for its history, plan to get a vehicle history report. This is an essential early step. If the car you're looking at has a bad history report, the sooner you know the better.

AutoCheck and Carfax are the two best-known sources for vehicle history reports, which can reveal vital information about the car, including whether the odometer has been rolled back or if it has a salvage title, which means it has been declared a total loss by the insurance company. You'll use the car's vehicle identification number (VIN) to get this information, and in some cases, all you need is the license plate number.

Step 6: Contact the Seller
Once you find a good prospective car, don't run out to see it. Call the seller first. This is a good way to establish a relationship with the seller and verify the information about the car. You can ask private-party sellers why they're parting with a car, or whether it has any mechanical problems. And if you're buying from a dealership, a phone call (or text) is the best way to ensure the car is still in stock.

Sometimes the seller will mention something that wasn't in the ad that might change your decision to buy the car. If you want to go deeper, our used car questionnaire is a good reminder of what to ask. You will notice that the last question on our list is the asking price of the car. Although many people are tempted to negotiate even before they have laid eyes on the car, it's better to wait. Once you see the car, you can tie your offer to its condition.

If things are going well, set up an appointment to test-drive the car. If possible, make it for daylight hours. That makes it easier to see the car's condition.

Step 7: Test-Drive the Car
Test-driving a used car is the best way to know if this is the right car make and model for you. It's also a good way to assess this particular car's condition. So tune out distractions and focus on the car. Here are some things to check:

  • Is it easy to get in and out of the car without stooping or banging your head?
  • Is there enough headroom, hiproom and legroom? Remember to see how these feel in the backseat, too.
  • Is the driving position comfortable? Do you sit too low, too high or just right in the car? Can you tilt or telescope the steering wheel for a better fit?
  • Are the seats comfortable? Are they easily adjustable? Is there a lumbar support adjustment for the driver? How about the front-seat passenger?
  • Do you see a lit "check engine" light? If so, get that problem checked out before buying.
  • How is the visibility? Check the rearview mirror and the side mirrors. Look for potential blind spots.
  • Use your nose. Do you smell gas, burning oil, or anything amiss?
  • Check out the tires. How old are they? Is there enough tread left?
  • How are the brakes? Are they doing the job of stopping the car? Do they squeak?
  • Pop the hood. You don't have to know a lot about cars to see if something looks wrong. If something is leaking, steaming or covered in oil, it's time to ask questions.
  • Does the air-conditioning blow cold? Do headlights, brake lights and turn indicators work? Test them to be sure.

After the test drive, ask the owner or dealer if you can see the service records. These will show you if the car has had the scheduled maintenance performed on time.

Step 8: Have the Car Inspected
If you like the car, consider having it inspected by a mechanic before you buy it. If you don't have a mechanic, Google and Yelp are good places to read local shops' reviews. A pre-purchase inspection costs about $100 and can alert you to problems you may not find yourself. It's a smart investment.

A private-party seller will probably allow you to do this without much resistance. Most dealerships will let you borrow a car to take to be inspected by an outside mechanic. You'll be paying the inspection, of course. If it is a CPO car, there's already been an inspection and a warranty is in place, so there is little reason to take it to a mechanic.

Step 9: Negotiate a Good Deal
Does the idea of "talking numbers" fill you with dread? It shouldn't. Negotiating doesn't have to be a drawn-out, traumatic experience. If you are reasonable and have a plan, chances are you can make a deal pretty quickly and easily:

  • Decide ahead of time how much you're willing to spend to get the car. But don't start with this number in your discussion.
  • Make an opening offer that is lower than your maximum price, but in the ballpark based on your average price paid research in Step 3. Explain that you've done research on Edmunds or wherever else, so you have facts to support your offer.
  • If you and the seller arrive at a price that sounds good to you and is near the average price paid, you're probably in good shape.
  • And remember, the people on the other side probably hate negotiating too (even if it's their job).

Step 10: Get the Paperwork Done
If you are at a dealership, you'll sign the contract in the finance and insurance office. There, you will likely be offered additional items, such as a warranty, anti-theft devices, prepaid service plans or fabric protection.

Some people want the peace of mind that comes with extended warranties, so this is something you might want to consider (unless the car is still under the manufacturer's warranty or is a CPO vehicle). Review the dealership sales contract thoroughly. In most states, it lists the cost of the vehicle, a documentation fee, possibly a small charge for a smog certificate, sales tax and license fees.

If you are buying a car from an individual owner, make sure the seller properly transfers the title and registration to you. It's important to close the deal correctly to avoid after-sale hassles. Before money changes hands, ask for the title (which is sometimes called the pink slip) and have the seller sign it over to you. Rules governing vehicle registration and licensing vary from state to state. If possible, check with your local department of motor vehicles to make sure there are no past-due registration fees you'd be responsible for should you buy the car. Whether you buy from a dealer or a private party, make sure you have insurance for the car before you drive it away.

Once you've done the paperwork, it's time to celebrate your new purchase ? maybe with a drive-through dinner. You deserve it!

What is an Extended Warranty?

When you are purchasing a used car, it may – or may not – have time left on the original manufacturer warranty. If the vehicle has exceeded the terms of the original warranty, you may want to purchase an extended warranty, also known as an extended service contract.

When a car rolls off of the production line, it is covered by a manufacturer warranty. The terms and lengths of the warranties vary based on the manufacturer. But when you are purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, you will only be eligible for whatever manufacturer-supplied warranty is left based on years and/or mileage. For example, Ford’s Basic Warranty expires at 3 years or 36,000 miles – whichever comes first – so, even though a vehicle may be only two years old, if it has over 36,000 miles on it, it will not have that warranty coverage.

Service contracts are beneficial for used car buyers with bad credit because although recent vehicles are indeed more reliable, the advanced features and safety systems cost more to replace if they malfunction. If you are trying to maintain a budget, and even if you should have some funds set aside to cover maintenance for the vehicle, you probably don’t want to have to deal with high repair bills.

What Is An Extended Warranty?

extended warranty
While some may use the term extended warranty for this type of protection, it’s not actually an extension of the original warranty – it’s a used car service contract, not unlike a type of insurance policy. Typically, these contracts range from $25 to $35 per month, and may or may not have a deductible when repairs need to be made.

  • Know what is covered.
    When purchasing an extended service contract, be sure that those essential items that are most likely to encounter issues are covered, such as the anti-lock brake system, electrical system, automatic or manual transmission, air conditioner and power-steering systems.
  • Who is backing the service contract?
    There are two basic types of coverage: manufacturer backed and third party. The ones that are backed by the manufacturer will allow repairs to be made in any franchised dealership by factory-trained technicians using factory parts. It would basically be an extension of the original manufacturer warranty even though the systems covered may vary. If you are getting a service contract through a third party, the repairs may need to be done at a repair shop or dealership that is authorized by the company you have the service contract with in order to be covered.

    The drawbacks of a third party company are that you may lose the coverage you have paid for in the event that the company goes out of business. Some contract providers may even require you to pay for the entire repair first and wait for reimbursement from them. As a best practice, avoid these types of plans.

  • Will you need it?
    If you are dealing with damaged credit and/or financial issues, you will benefit greatly from the right kind of contract on your new or used car in order to avoid costly repairs. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before signing the dotted line on any service contract you are considering.