Why Credit Matters: My Car Buying Experiences

Just a quick personal story… I was chatting with a friend and she wants to purchase a new car and it had me thinking about the times I’ve purchased cars. It’s so interesting how different all my experiences were.

The very worst experience ever! Actually, it was the most embarrassing experience ever. I don’t remember all the little details, but I clearly remember how I felt leaving the car lot. I can’t remember the year, but I had been in the hospital for a while so I’m thinking it was around 2003 or 2004. I had my arm in a sling because I was in the middle of an IV treatment.

Side note: I have Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disease, and was diagnosed in 2002 which resulted in several hospital stays for various treatments over the next few years after my diagnosis. Okay back to the story…

So, I go to this used car lot that was recommended by a close friend. My arm was in a sling and I looked like crap, but I also knew that would be my only opportunity to go to the lot because I had to return to the hospital the following day. I knew that my credit was terrible, but I was praying they would give me a car because my income was decent, and I could afford a payment for a used car. I wanted to purchase a minivan because that’s what we needed as a family at the time. There were 2 minivans on the lot that were in my price range. I told the salesman which one I wanted, and we started the paperwork. Once the paperwork was complete, the salesman turned me over to the finance department and they started the process of finding someone to finance the car. My credit at the time was in the high 400’s. I was so worried! They left me sitting in an office for a 20-30 minutes and the owner of the car lot came into the room. He sat across from me and looked me in the eyes and said “Why in the world should I sell you my car?” I was so taken aback that it took me a few minutes to answer him. I told him how I really needed a car and I worked full time and would be able to pay the notes. He was not convinced at all. For several minutes (it was probably only 20 seconds), he stared at me and I thought he was going to put me out of his office. He didn’t. He signed off and allowed the finance person to continue with the paperwork. I was so embarrassed. I felt like I was less than… less than what? I have no idea, but I didn’t feel like I was worthy. I purchased the car with a $8,888 price tag but because my credit score was so low, I had a 24.79% interest rate. Yikes! One more time for the people in the back… YIKES! When all was said and done, I paid roughly $17,000 for a used minivan! I never missed a payment. I paid on time because I was determined to prove him wrong. While he never said this in words, I know that the car lot owner fully expected me to default on that loan. And why would he think otherwise? The only thing he had to go on was my mile-long credit report with a less than stellar credit score.  

Fast forward to 2017… I needed a new vehicle. I researched cars for about a year before I decided on a car. I knew that this was a big purchase and I wanted to be absolutely sure. After deciding on the year, make, model and color, I went to the car lot and told them what I was looking for. The salesman was awesome and answered my questions without hesitation. I went on a test drive and decided that I wanted to move forward with the purchase. I didn’t know my exact credit score, but I knew it was in the low 800’s. I had my payment stubs and insurance information ready. I felt prepared and more importantly, I felt confident. Just knowing that I was walking into the car dealership with a high credit score, good income and a ton of confidence made the process less daunting. The salesman collected all of my personal information and application and turned it over to the finance department. As I was waiting and chatting with the salesman, he was called to the finance office. I didn’t have a single worry. The salesman returned to his office minutes later and was laughing hysterically. He turned to me and said, “The guy in finance said that you’re awesome and you have your s**t together!” I laughed and said “Well, thank you kindly!” That felt good. I had worked extremely hard on my credit for years and it was paying off. Oh and let’s not forget, I was able to get a 0% interest rate because my credit score was so high! That was a first for me and it was awesome!

Before I sign off, I encourage you to check your credit reports, figure out the issues, if any, and work towards correcting them. It can make a huge difference in your life. I went from paying $8,000 in interest for a $9,000 car to paying $0 interest!

Also, if you want to learn more about how I increased my credit scores, click HERE.

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