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Categories:   Tips & Insights For Car Buying    Buying & Selling Cars   

Key Challenges That College Students Face When Buying a Car

While some college students can rely entirely on public transportation, others don’t have that option. Some students need a car to make the daily campus commute or take their stuff home for the holidays.


While a personal vehicle might be necessary, it’s not easy to manage the expense of buying a car. This is especially true if you’re applying for a new auto loan with little to no credit history and limited income. Finding the right car deal can be tough. Here are a few challenges to consider.

Problems Faced By College Students

There are a number of challenges faced by those looking to buy their first car, including steep interest rates, intimidating loan plans, and a lack of cash for the initial payment. Hefty upfront costs and monthly payments for the foreseeable future will look pretty unappealing for college students already operating in the red.

High Interest Rates

Many students have either just begun building credit or have no credit history. When they search for a starter car, they’ll likely run into trouble when trying to secure an auto loan. Loans with decent interest rates usually require good to great credit, so most college students may be offered auto loans with higher interest rates.

Realistically, a student earning a meager wage at a part-time campus job may not have the means to easily pay off an auto loan on schedule. Not only does this cost more, but falling behind on expensive payments may damage an already vulnerable credit score. Check out this rate calculator tool to see what rates are possible with your credit.

Long Repayment Terms

Students who have poor credit or a limited history may also be forced to opt for lengthier repayment terms. It may not be obvious at first, but this is a significant cost factor. When you choose to repay over a longer period, the overall cost of the loan will go up.

Interest will have more time to accrue as you slowly pay down the balance. Simply put, it’ll cost you more in terms of interest. Additionally, the idea of borrowing for an extended amount of time on a depreciating asset can be a major turnoff to students who are looking to buy. Here’s a payment calculator to help you understand what monthly payment to expect from different repayment terms.

Low Cash For A Deposit

Another potential barrier to buying a car is the initial down payment. Most college students lack the cash for a large deposit, which means they may face higher interest rates and loan costs. Why is the down payment important? You get a better deal on a car loan when you can pay more upfront, but that’s not always an option for students early in their asset-buying careers.

How To Solve These Problems

By now it’s fairly evident that college students lack in two car-buying requirements: cash and credit. How can you solve the problems that are both the problem and the solution? You want shorter repayment terms and low interest rates, but you don’t have cash on-hand for a deposit that would make this possible.

Luckily, college students can take steps to improve their financials, which will improve their chances of getting a lower rate or qualifying for a loan in the first place. While these aren’t the only tips to consider, here are several basic tactics for prepping your credit profile for an auto loan.

Start Building Credit

For starters, you can take small measures to begin building a trustworthy credit score. You may want to apply for a credit card thatcaters specifically to students. For many, a credit card is the starting point to credit building. Student credit cards generally require average-to-good credit, and these card providers understand that students who have no experience with credit need to get started.

If you secure a credit card, be sure to consistently pay off your balance. Wiping the slate clean each and every month without fail may prove to your lender that you’re a responsible borrower. Your overall credit score should improve through proper debt management. With a higher score, you are more likely to receive loan offers with lower interest rates and better repayment options.

Budget Like Your Car Depends On It

Another way to improve the car-buying outlook is to take a closer look at yourbudgeting habits. Saving is king when it comes to purchasing major assets. Consider what you earn and spend each month, and decide where you might be able to cut back on and store away. If you have cash left over at the end of the month, set that aside. Use a long lens, remind yourself that your goal is a car, and you’ll force yourself to forego some miscellaneous purchases.

For those who find it tough to keep money management in perspective, budget apps may help you to break down and better organize your spending choices. Some personal finance apps are invaluable tools for students who need a bit of guidance, and they establish positive habits that will come into play when bigger purchases such as a first home crop up down the road.

Consider Shopping for a Used Car

There’s no shame in going used. Previously owned cars tend to be much cheaper than new options. You could get to the point of purchase sooner, whether you’re paying fully in cash or taking out a used car loan. If you’re short on cash, then you may want to think about an auto loan.

If you shop around for different auto loan options, then you may be able to find an even better deal for a used car. myAutoloan is always a great option. According to Lendedu, myAutoloan is one of the top choices, especially when it comes to finding affordable rates in a short amount of time.

Used car dealers offer an enormous selection of vehicles, and you’re bound to find a dependable ride, whatever your needs might be. So don’t shy away from the pre-owned route; it’s often the best choice for students!

By Andrew, a Content Associate from Lendedu – a website that helps consumers with their finances. Andrew bought his first car, a 2000 Mazda Protégé, in high school; he heavily relied on the “Budget Like Your Car Depends On It” and “Consider Shopping for a Used Car” tactics to make that happen!

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