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Car Loans: How Much You Can Get Approved For


Whether you’re seeking an auto loan to upgrade your current vehicle or purchase an additional car, the process of getting approved for a loan can be a bit intimidating and confusing. 

We’re here to streamline and simplify the process.

If You’re Wondering How Much Car Loan Can I Get Approved For, You’ve Come To The Right Place

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is “how much car loan can I get approved for?”  Knowing that information as you’re looking for the perfect vehicle is essential because it helps you narrow down your search.

Keep reading to get a quick overview of the factors taken into consideration when you apply for an auto loan and what you need to have in order before getting your approval. 

How Much Of An Auto Loan Can I Afford?

These are the primary factors taken into consideration when your local bank, credit union, dealership, or auto financing company approves you for an auto loan.

Credit Score

Your credit score is a significant factor when determining how much of a car loan you qualify for. The lower your credit score, the more challenging it will be to obtain a loan. 

If your score is below 500, it will be tough to find a company that will approve you for an auto loan. You can probably qualify for a loan if your score is in the 500-600 range, but your rates will be significantly higher, likely over 14%. 

Finance companies charge more interest to those with lower credit scores because they don’t have confidence that you’ll be able to repay the loan in full. Therefore, they attempt to get as much money as they can up front in interest fees. 

The higher your credit score, the easier it will be for you to qualify for an auto loan, and you’ll receive preferred lower interest rates. 

You can find your credit score using various online tools, or you can get your official credit report from Equifax, Transunion, or Experian.  

Interest Rate

When you have a credit score that demonstrates you are likely to repay your loan, you will qualify for a lower interest rate

The benefit of a lower interest rate is you will pay less for your vehicle over the life of the loan. 

Rates vary based on where you get your auto loan, but at OUCU, ours start as low as 6.24% which is less than you’ll find at a typical bank. 


You must be able to prove that you can afford to repay your loan. The loan company might verify your income by looking at pay stubs or bank statements.


Your downpayment is how much money you pay on the spot when you purchase your vehicle.  

When you make a downpayment, the amount you’re getting financed decreases, along with your monthly payment amount.

While it’s recommended that you make a 20% downpayment, that can be a challenge for many people, so your goal should be to put down as much as you can upfront.

Trade In Value

Trading in a vehicle can also offset the cost of the new auto loan depending on the value of the trade in vehicle and the balance owed on it if any. You can use an online tool to estimate the trade in value, but you’ll get the most accurate amount at your local dealership.

Sales Tax 

You must pay sales tax on your new vehicle, so that cost is taken into consideration as well.  

The car sales tax in Ohio is 5.75%, so if you purchase a $20,000 car, the extra $1,150 due will be added to your total loan amount. 

For residents outside of Ohio consult your state tax rates for car sales taxes in your specific state.

Loan Terms

Your loan term is the length of your auto loan. You can get a loan ranging from 24 months to 84 months depending on the age of the vehicle. The shorter your term, the higher your monthly payments, but the less you will pay in interest since you’re borrowing the money for a shorter period.

While you can often qualify for a more expensive vehicle if you choose a longer term, it comes with the cost of paying more in interest over time.

With all of these factors taken into consideration, there is still no way to guarantee how much you’ll qualify for until you apply for your loan. However, you can use a car affordability calculator to get a close estimate. 

The Auto Loan Approval Process

Once you’re ready to go through the approval process, you can apply with OUCU online or by phone. We have a quick, easy, and convenient process. 

Be prepared with your monthly income and an idea of how much you can afford based on your budget. We’ll pull your official credit score once you apply and provide you with a pre-approval letter when everything checks out. 

You can then take your pre-approval letter to your local dealership and start the search for your next vehicle.

Start Saving On Auto Loans 

Not only does OUCU offer lower rates than you’ll find elsewhere, but you also don’t have to worry about many of the other fees you’d pay going through traditional banks and other finance companies. There are no worries about a prepayment penalty if you pay your loan off in advance, an origination fee or a dealer documentation fee!

Stop asking, “how much car loan can I get approved for” and start the process of finding the perfect vehicle. 

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