Car Buyers’ Guide

We created CreditHelpers to allow everyone an equal opportunity to drive a safe and reliable vehicle. We believe that credit concerns shouldn’t keep you from driving and we work hard to treat each customer with care and consideration. CreditHelpers is part of a group that includes Guelph Toyota, Walkerton Toyota, Goderich Hyundai, and KW Mitsubishi. If there’s a vehicle you want, we can help you find it.

Why This Guide Matters

For some people, it can be very difficult to get leasing or financing when buying a vehicle. Buying a car is a daunting task, but that task becomes even more challenging and confusing for those who have “less than perfect” credit. It is estimated that around 30% of Canadians have what is considered “bad credit” and, for those people, buying a car often means facing rejection, getting stuck with sky-high interest rates, or shopping with non-trustworthy auto dealers.

At CreditHelpers, we’ve made it our mission to make buying a vehicle easy and hassle-free, regardless of your credit situation. Just because a person has bad credit shouldn’t mean they deserve a different experience when shopping for a reliable vehicle.

This Guide Can Help

You’ll find this information valuable if you’re currently shopping or thinking of shopping for a vehicle and you have less than perfect credit for one or more of the following reasons:

  • bad credit history
  • no credit history
  • slow, late, or missed payments
  • past or current bankruptcy
  • new to Canada
  • repossession
  • divorce
  • low income
  • orderly payment of debt• poor credit due to unexpected events.

Poor credit isn’t ideal, but don’t assume it’s the end of the road when you’re looking to buy a car. Understanding how to get an auto loan with bad credit is your first step and this guide will serve as a valuable resource for you on your vehicle shopping journey.

How Much Should I Read?

We’ve created this guide to be as easy to understand as possible. Whether you read the entire guide from start to finish, or you just read a specific chapter, you’re definitely going to be more informed.

Know What to Expect

Before you look for a new vehicle, especially if you find yourself with less than perfect credit, make sure your expectations are realistic. Knowing what to expect is particularly important when looking to buy a new vehicle with anything less than perfect credit.

The Process Will Be Slightly Different

When shopping for a vehicle with less than perfect credit, you should expect the process to be slightly different than if you were shopping with perfect credit. This could mean that your application process will be a little more in-depth, or you may need to get pre-approved before picking your vehicle. These processes are normal and a reputable dealer will walk you through the entire process beforehand, so you know exactly what to expect.

You Will Be Asked about Your Credit

Be prepared to answer questions about your credit and financial history. This can sometimes be an intimidating proposition for some folks, but it shouldn’t be – the dealer is just looking to get an accurate picture of your current financial situation to ensure that the loan you get won’t jeopardize your credit/financial situation. While your credit score and financial history are important factors, there are other factors as well. If you’ve lived in your current home for a long period of time, that shows stability. Likewise, if you have a steady job and can show a stable employment history, you’ll likely be seen as less of a risk. References can also play a role. A list of people who can verify that you’re responsible and likely to pay your debts can also lead to an extension of credit with better terms.

Interest Rates Will Be Higher

If you have less than perfect credit, your interest rates will be higher than if you had perfect credit. You’re probably not going to get the 0% financing that’s offered on the TV commercials you see all the time. That said, you shouldn’t be worried about paying a crazy-high interest rate – the interest rates on vehicle loans at CreditHelpers can be market competitive and similar to what you’d find at a bank.

You Might Not Drive Away in Your Dream Vehicle Right Away

From our experience here at CreditHelpers, we’ve come to believe that it is key to successfully getting approved for an auto loan, particularly if you have bad credit. The monthly payment for a fully loaded truck is much more than the payment on a compact sedan – and nobody wants to get into a vehicle and take on a vehicle loan they can’t afford. Our goal is to help you establish a solid payment history, then help you refinance to better terms when your credit score improves – something that’s likely to happen as you make those car payments on time.

Understand Your Credit

When you’re shopping for a new vehicle, checking into your credit score is probably the last thing you want to do, especially if you’ve had credit challenges in the past. Just the thought of going through your credit details can be intimidating and something you’d rather avoid. But, whether your credit is good or bad, understanding your credit situation is important when looking for a new vehicle. If you understand where you’re at with regard to your credit, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions when applying for your car loan. Quite often, customers come to us with little to no insight into their credit situation, which is okay, but, as we’re working with you, we want to make sure that we’re informing you and helping you understand your situation. Signing off on a car loan without knowing your credit situation could be disastrous for you in the long run.

Here is some useful information to help you quickly, easily, and painlessly get an idea of where your credit and financial history is at.

Check Your Credit Reports

Checking your credit reports with the major credit bureaus enables you to see any errors or inaccuracies and can actually help you to improve your credit score. The decision processes used by auto lenders are based in part on credit scores, which take into account a consumer’s credit experiences, compiled in credit reports.

You can get copies of your credit report by mail. There are two national credit bureaus in Canada: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. You should check with both bureaus. In order to get your credit report for free, just send in your identification along with other basic information and wait 2–3 weeks for your reports to come back. For instructions on getting a free credit report by mail from TransUnion or Equifax, just click the relevant  logo below.

If you can’t wait for a free report by mail, you can always get an instant credit report online. 

TransUnion charges $14.95 and Equifax’s rate is $15.50, but both are great and rather cost-effective ways of getting an understanding of your credit situation. At CreditHelpers, we will walk you through your credit history and tell you your credit score. What we find is that if clients come into those meetings with even just a basic understanding of their situation, it relieves a lot of the anxiety involved.

What’s on Your Credit Report?

Your credit report may contain the following financial information:

  • non-sufficient funds payments or bad cheques
  • chequing and savings accounts closed “for cause” due to money owing or fraud committed
  • credit you use, including credit cards, retail or store cards, lines of  credit and loans
  • bankruptcy or a court decision against you that relates to credit
  • debts sent to collection agencies
  • inquiries from lenders and others who have requested your credit report in the past 3 years
  • registered items, such as a lien on a car that allows the lender to seize it if you don’t make payments
  • remarks, including consumer statements, fraud alerts, and identity verification alerts.

Your credit report may contain the following financial information:

  • when you opened your account
  • how much you owe
  • if you made your payments on time
  • if you missed payments
  • if your debt has been transferred to a collection agency
  • if you went over your credit limit
  • personal information that’s available in public records, such as a bankruptcy.

For more information on your credit report, the Government of Canada has a great website filled with detailed information and  resources that will help you understand your credit and the details  of your credit report.

You can find that here:

Know What You Can Afford

Before you apply, we strongly suggest taking some time to think about what you can realistically afford and what kind of loan you will be able to work into your budget.

The monthly payment is what many people are thinking about when shopping for a new vehicle. It makes sense that the monthly payment for a fully loaded truck is much more than the payment on a compact sedan, so when you’re in the market for a new vehicle, it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford. Nobody wants to get into a vehicle and take on a vehicle loan they can’t afford, so knowing (and being realistic about) your budget is crucial. Quite often, customers come to us with a clear idea of the type of vehicle they want, but they aren’t exactly sure what they can afford. Part of our process is to work with our customers to help them understand their financial situation, which helps us determine a monthly payment that fits their budget. From here, we are able to figure out a monthly payment that works and ultimately a vehicle that fits both lifestyle and budget.

Find a Reliable Dealer

Figuring out how to get a car loan with bad credit becomes easier when you know your options. Finding a lender that accepts car loan applications from people with poor or limited credit histories is, of course, a good start. The main options are auto dealerships, banks, credit unions, and finance companies. Consider lenders that accept applications from consumers with all credit types, like CreditHelpers.

Some car dealers and car salespeople have given the industry a bad name with their “fly-by-night” business practices. These dealers sometimes prey on folks who have bad credit and are desperately looking for a car loan. It’s important, especially when shopping for a bad credit car loan, that you work with a reputable outfit that you can trust. At CreditHelpers, we finance the vehicles we sell with our own money (also known as in-house financing) so we don’t ship your car loan application to multiple lenders.

When shopping for a new vehicle, you’ll likely come across a number of different dealerships during your search.

Customer Reviews

Look for reviews from customers just like you. A reputable and trustworthy dealer will have positive customer reviews clearly displayed across their website, on their social media channels, and on other sources such as Google My Business. At CreditHelpers, we proudly display our customer reviews in real time, as they come in, to show you exactly what customers just like you are saying about our service and our process.


Ensure that the dealer you’re working with is an established dealer and not just someone selling cars from a small corner lot. You can tell a lot about a dealer by their locations, their size, and their reputation. CreditHelpers is part of the Dohms Lapointe Group, which owns multiple franchise dealerships in Southern Ontario.


Companies that encourage community involvement distinguish themselves from their competitors. If you see that the dealer you’re working with is involved in the community, that’s a good sign. At Legacy, our company and our employees are involved in many ways. We’re very proud of our support for and involvement in the community.

Understand the Importance of Pre-approval

One of the most frustrating experiences as a consumer when vehicle shopping is finding your dream vehicle and going through all the steps to purchase it, only to find that you can’t get approved for the loan.

For this reason, we recommend that potential buyers get pre-approved before getting too deep into their vehicle selection process. When you’re pre-approved for a specific loan amount, you can shop with confidence. Of course, everyone would love to be able to pay for their new vehicle with cash, but, in reality, very few of us are in a position to do that, so we need a loan or financing.

Why Getting Pre-approval Is Better

When you get pre-approved, you can shop with more confidence because you already know that you can afford it. You’re free to focus on shopping for your dream vehicle without having to worry about being declined or negotiating terms. This removes a lot of stress from the situation and makes for a much more pleasant shopping experience.

The Pre-approval Process

At CreditHelpers, our goal is to make every step of the process straightforward, easy, and hassle-free. Our pre-approval process is no different. All you need to do is fill out the quick application on our website (or give us a call) and we can have you pre-approved and shopping quickly. Once you’re pre-approved, we set up a meeting with one of our team members to work out the terms of your vehicle purchase and financing

Must-Know Tips

When you’re shopping for a new vehicle with less than perfect credit, remember that you aren’t the only one in this situation. In fact, 30% of Canadians (reports indicate that number is actually higher now) have imperfect credit or no credit at all. The situation you find yourself in is normal and there is no need to feel stressed, embarrassed, or guilty about anything. You have taken the right steps by reading through this guide and you are now better prepared and more informed on what you need to do to get into a new vehicle.

Don’t Assume the Worst

If you have less than perfect credit, don’t assume that you won’t be able to get a vehicle or that you’ll need to resort to buying an unreliable used car from an unreliable dealer just to get driving. At CreditHelpers, we specialize in working with people who have credit challenges and we help thousands of Ontarians get driving every year.

Avoid Additional Bad Credit

If you find yourself in a “bad credit” situation, one of the worst things you can do is to make the problem bigger by avoiding bills and missing payments. Starting now, as you read this, be on your best behavior. Pay everything on time. Don’t take on any other major credit obligations, including new credit cards. Potential red flags for an auto lender include late payments and missed payments. Stay on track.

Be Honest

When meeting with our team to review your financial situation, it’s very important that you always fill in the blanks truthfully. The information you provide will be verified, so providing false or misleading information about your job status, income, or anything else can kill your chances of vehicle financing. We’re here to help you, and we can usually help people with even the worst credit get in a new vehicle, but our jobs become more difficult if we don’t have the right information.

Avoid Shopping Around

When you’re in the market for a new vehicle, it can be tempting to visit multiple dealerships and websites and fill out multiple credit applications. We highly recommend NOT shopping around, though. Avoid multiple applications, especially if you find yourself in a “bad credit” situation.

When you fill out a credit application at a dealership or online, your credit needs to be checked. Lots of dealers and bad credit car loan websites will “shop” your credit to many lenders – and even suggest that this is to your advantage. But it’s not helpful – and can actually hurt your credit. Here’s why. If you have too many credit inquiries over time, it can reduce your credit score. As you can see, “shopping” your credit raises a lot of red flags and actually works against you.

Working with CreditHelpers: We make auto financing easy.

Get Started

Getting started is easy. Tell us what type of vehicle you’re looking for, your contact and employment details, and from there we can start working on getting you approved.

Loan Approval

Regardless of what has happened in your past, you deserve some credit. We work with you to assess your current situation and approve your loan quickly – and all hassle-free.

Shop and Drive

Our goal is to get you driving as quickly as possible. Once your loan is approved, you can shop our dealership inventory to ensure that you drive away in that perfect vehicle. It’s that easy!

Working with CreditHelpers

We hope that this guide has provided you with useful information and practical tips that help you feel more informed and confident as you shop for a new vehicle.We would love to help you find that new vehicle. Get started now

Apply for Your Car Loan

Applying for a car loan shouldn’t be stressful. We ask only for the information we need  – and finishing your application takes less than 3 minutes. Get Started Now.

Your Guide to Repairing and Rebuilding Your Credit Score

Who We Are

CreditHelpers offers simple loans and other credit assistance products to people who have no credit or less than perfect credit. Our services involve access to numerous financial institutions plus our in-house financing, which means you’re getting a one-stop solution. Also, we provide the resources you need to understand and rebuild credit. Once your credit is rebuilt, we can help you with prime credit financing. With all the information in hand, you can get a car loan from a trustworthy source and improve your credit score at the same time. 

Why We Wrote This Guide

If you don’t know what your credit score is, you’re not alone. Responsible people end up with low scores without noticing; it’s not an uncommon problem in Canada. Over half of Canadians have never checked their credit score, and about a quarter of Canadians have an average to low-ranking credit score. Figuring out how your credit score works, who manages your credit, and how you can improve it can be confusing, so it’s no wonder so many Canadians go without the information they need.

Think of your credit history and credit score as a profile telling others how dependable you are when borrowing money. Insurers, employers, landlords, utility companies, and other lenders use your credit score to gauge how predictable or risky their investment in you will be.

Without the right credit score, you may be turned down for the loan you asked for, or you may be tempted into too-good-to-be-true offers from untrustworthy sources. Your low credit score shouldn’t be taken advantage of by any company trying to put you in a worse situation. Car loans don’t have to be stressful. CreditHelpers is a credible source that will enable you to make smart choices when it comes to your loans.

What You Can Gain from This Guide

Low credit scores can make it difficult to get a reasonable loan.The lower your credit score is, the higher your interest rates and payments tend to be. Though your credit history cannot be changed, there are ways you can improve your credit score in the future. 

Paying your bills on time isn’t the only factor impacting your credit score; that’s a common misconception. There are several other reasons why credit bureaus – the  agencies that gather your credit history – are ranking you low. If you ever forgot to pay a cell phone bill on time, it probably lowered your credit score. If you have never taken out a loan before, you may not even have a credit score at all. It’s important to understand what credit scores are, why you have a certain credit score, and how you can improve it, so you can get an affordable car loan while avoiding scams.

You’re not alone: one in four Canadians has a less than perfect credit score.

Understanding Your Credit History and Score

What does a credit score look like?

Credit scores in Canada are marked on a scale from 350 to 900. Scores between 600 and 800 are considered average. Scores below 550 are considered extreme risk, and scores of 800 and above are excellent. The more points you have on your credit score, the less risky you look to a lender, and the better off you’ll be. For example, if a person decides to take out a loan on a car with a credit score of 720, the down-payment and interest rate would typically be half of the cost for a person with a credit score of 590.

Where can I find my credit report?

You can order your credit report for free once a year from one of two credit bureaus: Equifax Canada (where it’s called a “credit file disclosure”) or TransUnion Canada (where it’s called a “consumer disclosure”). When you apply for your credit history, it’s called an inquiry. Your credit score will be called a FICO score, which stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, the group that invented it. The process involves filling out forms online, providing two pieces of ID, giving your SIN and credit card number, and receiving the report by mail. It’s important to get your credit history from one of these trustworthy sources. Unfortunately, there are organizations out there that will claim to provide free services, and then steal your personal information. Protect yourself from fraud and unexpected offers. 

What is a credit bureau?

Contrary to how it may seem, credit bureaus are not regulated by the government. However, legislation called the Fair Credit Reporting Act is in place to oversee credit bureau activity. Remember, credit bureaus are publicly traded, for-profit businesses working with banks and credit issuers to record your credit activity. They exist to help lenders, so your personal information, at the end of the day, is your responsibility. It’s in your best interest to make sure that what credit bureaus records are correct. As well, make sure you check your position with both credit bureaus – your lenders might send information to one credit bureau but not the other.

What’s on my credit report?

Before you start evaluating your report, it’s important to understand how it’s formatted. On your report, you’ll find your personal information, credit information, banking information, public records, collection information, consumer statements, and credit report inquiries. The bureau receives this information from your lenders every time you apply for credit or monthly as your creditors report your payment history.

 What do the letters mean in my credit report?

  • I – Installment Credit – You borrow money for a specific period of time, for example, a car loan
  • O – Open Status Credit – You can borrow money up to a certain limit, for example, a cell phone
  • R – Revolving (or Recurring) Credit – You can borrow money up to a limit and payments vary depending on the balance of account certain limit, for example a credit card
  • M – Mortgage Loan – Mortgage information may be included on your  credit report  

What do the numbers mean in my credit report?

  • #0 – Too new to rate. Approved, but not yet used
  • #1 – Paid within 30 days of billing Pays as agreed
  • #2 – Late payment: 31 to 59 days late
  • #3 – Late payment: 60 to 89 days late
  • #4 – Late payment: 90 to 119 days late
  • #5 – Late payment: more than 120 days late, but not yet rated a “9”
  • #6 – This code is not used
  • #7 – Making regular payments using one of the following debt management options:
    • a consolidation order
    • orderly payment of debts consumer proposal
    • debt management program with a credit counseling agency
  • #8 – Repossession
  • #9 – Written off as a “bad debt” Sent to collection agency Bankrupt

What should I watch out for in my credit history?

Research indicates that 20% of people have found errors in their credit report. It’s important to look through your credit report closely. If you find anything wrong, you can fill out a dispute letter and send it to the bureau you received your report from. Once you have sent the dispute letter, wait a while and then follow up to make sure that your letter was received. Negative information on your credit history lasts for 7 years. Make sure your report is correct. If you run into any problems getting your dispute resolved, you can call the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada ( to get some help. They can point you to other options to make sure that your errors get fixed.

Why is my credit score low?

Lenders want to know they can depend on you. Where you are living, how long you have been employed, and what kind of loans you’ve taken out are a reflection of how you manage your finances. While not all the reasons for credit scores are disclosed by credit bureaus, there are some commonly known factors. In the next section, we’ll go into more detail on what the guidelines are and how you can follow them to improve your credit score.

Improving Your Credit Score

Before we explain some steps you can take to improve your score, it’s important to know what credit bureaus consider most important. Paying your bills on time is a large part, but there are a few other things you should be aware of:

1. Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score.

Do you pay your bills on time? How many bills have you missed? Paying your expenses early is generally a good thing.

2. Credit utilization makes up 30% of your credit score.

What is the ratio of your credit limit to balance? If you have a $3,000 limit and a $2,000 balance, that means you have a 67% utilization score. The higher the utilization score, the lower your credit score will be. If you’re using more than 35–50% of your available credit, it may negatively affect your score.

3. Length of credit history makes up 15% of your credit score.

How long have you had a credit card? How long have you been building credit? It’s better to have credit for longer. Don’t close accounts that have good payment histories.

4. New loans and credit applications make up 10% of your credit score.

How many credit inquiries have you made? How many loans have you applied for?  The more you’ve applied for, the lower your credit score will be.

5. Varied types of credit make up 10% of your credit score.

Do you have revolving credit (Visa, MasterCard, or retail store card), non-revolving credit (American Express, Diners Club), or installment credit (loans)? If you have different types of credit, then your credit score will be higher.

How does bankruptcy affect my credit score?

Even if you’ve been discharged from bankruptcy, the Credit Bureau will keep this information on record for 7 years. If you go bankrupt for the second time, this information stands on your credit history for 14 years. Getting out of bankruptcy can take a long time. To help you reestablish your credit, start saving money, pay all your bills on time, and potentially look into getting a secured credit card.

Are there quicker ways to fix my credit score?

Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes to this problem. If you come across any ads or promotions for “fast auto loans upfront” or a “guaranteed loans strategy,” be careful. There are discreditable companies offering car loans and financing options. Try to be patient. It may seem frustrating at first, but remember that your situation doesn’t have to be permanent. If you work on improving your credit practices, you’ll see your score change over time. 

Getting the Vehicle and Credit Score You Need

Believe it or not, taking out a loan on a vehicle can help you improve your credit score. Remember, you can raise your score with a variety of credit types. A car can be a great option if you don’t have installment credit on your credit history. On top of this, compared to mortgages and other high-interest loans, car loans are lower cost and the payment times are shorter. This means you’ll have a better chance of boosting your credit with less stress. Taking out a car loan to boost credit is most effective if you plan ahead and practice the following habits:

  1. Save cash to make a down-payment. The larger your down-payment, the less your loan and monthly payments will likely be.
  2. Select a car within your budget. Avoid putting yourself in a situation where you can’t meet a payment on time because you chose a car that was too expensive for your lifestyle.
  3. Make your monthly payments on time. Remember, this makes up 35% of your credit score. Create a schedule in your diary, make notes on your fridge – whatever you need to stay organized.
  4. Pay more than the minimum required each month. Giving more than you’re expected to shows that you’re responsible.
  5. Reach below 30% owing as soon as possible. The quicker you reach your goal, the quicker your credit score will go up.
  6. Apply for a payment period of 3 to 4 years. The quicker you reach your goal, the quicker your credit score will go up.
  7. Avoid grace periods. Although you may be given extensions on payments, taking them won’t help your credit score.

Working with CreditHelpers

Are You Ready To Apply?

We hope this guide has provided you with useful information and practical tips that help you feel more informed and confident as you shop for a new vehicle. We would love to help you find that new vehicle. Get started now.

Apply for Your Car Loan

Applying for a car loan shouldn’t be stressful. We ask only for the information we need and finishing your application takes less than 15 minutes. Get started now.

What Our Customers Are Saying

“I was just starting a consumer proposal. I thought there was no way I’d get approved for a car. I got in touch with Vic. He was amazing and so helpful. A week later I’m in my new car and it was something I really wanted. Interest rate is good for someone in my situation. I would highly recommend it.”

—Rochelle P.