No one wants to deal with bankruptcy. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable for many people. One of the biggest struggles that comes with filing bankruptcy is convincing agencies to lend you money. A lot of people have a hard time getting their first car loan after bankruptcy—especially one that’s affordable for them.

There are, thankfully, steps you can take to ensure you can get a decent car loan after filing for bankruptcy.

Check, and Double-Check, Your Credit Report

Everyone is entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three big credit agencies. This is something that you’re going to want to keep tabs on after going through bankruptcy. Your credit score is the most important factor in determining your ability to qualify for certain loans and interest rates. Your credit score will typically take a hit after you go through bankruptcy. In fact, someone with previously good credit can see their score go down by more than 200 points. That’s a big hit considering the range is only 300-850.

There’s another reason you need to check your credit report after bankruptcy. Sometimes, there will be errors in your report following major changes. If this happens to you, your score could be impacted in ways that aren’t fair to you. Taking the time to understand your credit report will help you get a better loan following bankruptcy.

Do Your Homework

When looking for after-bankruptcy car loans, it’s wise to shop around a bit. Don’t assume the first provider you examine will be your best option. Following bankruptcy, you can expect to pay a higher annual percentage rate (APR) on your car loan than someone with outstanding credit. Lenders give lower rates to people with strong credit because they’re seen as more likely to fully repay the loan.

Just because you’re going to get a higher rate after bankruptcy, however, doesn’t mean you should settle for anything. The automotive research firm Edmunds gives these numbers as a rule of thumb for subprime car loans: 11 percent APR for new vehicles, 16.25 percent for used ones.

Of course, there will be flexibility in these percentages based on the lender and your unique situation. Regardless, it’s smart to do a bit of shopping. Also, make sure you check for any hidden fees in a loan. These can end up making a seemingly affordable situation out of reach.

Don’t Try to Be Fancy

You aren’t going to help yourself by stretching your budget right after going through bankruptcy. Don’t try to get a loan for a luxury vehicle right away. Failing to repay a loan on a car that’s out of your reach will lead to repossession, and further damage your finances. Additionally, most lenders will be highly skeptical if you approach them with a loan for an expensive vehicle.

Make Timely Payments

Things can often seem bleak after going through bankruptcy. Fortunately, it’s not the end of the world. There were about 770,000 total non-business bankruptcies filed in 2016. Even though you can feel alone when going through this process, you aren’t. There are systems in place to help you regain your financial footing over time. One of the best ways to do this is by consistently paying off your debts in full. If you’re dedicated to making all loan payments, it will boost your credit in time—allowing you to get better rates in the future.

Look for Refinancing Opportunities

If you’ve shown a trend of reliability with paying off your car loan, it’s possible you can qualify for refinancing. This can save you a significant amount of money over time; so it’s important to think about it. Ask the lender ahead of time about their refinancing policies.

Going through bankruptcy isn’t easy. But it doesn’t disqualify you from being able to get a car loan. Consider these points when looking at your first car loan after bankruptcy.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

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