In a Nutshell: Owning your own transportation can be your ticket to better job prospects, financial advancement, and life enjoyment. For more than 50 years, Credit Acceptance has developed a robust nationwide dealer network to provide credit-challenged car buyers access to affordable financing to purchase needed transportation. Most Americans live in areas where public transit falls short and ride-sharing is too expensive. Credit Acceptance empowers consumers to take positive steps toward car ownership, while providing crucial support and education along the way.
It’s hard to get around and do the things you need to do in the US without personal transportation. Because the nation’s towns, cities, and roadways evolved in the open spaces of North America, all but the most urbanized areas lack public transit infrastructure that can act as an adequate substitute for owning a car.
But cars are expensive, even used vehicles with tens or hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer. Most Americans need some form of financing to purchase a car and gain the benefits and flexibility of car ownership.
The problem is that not all Americans have a high enough credit score to qualify for affordable financing. And that sets them up for struggle in other areas.
Car ownership gives people better job outcome opportunities, but there’s more to it than that. There’s also the quality-of-life aspect of driving to a grocery store with higher-quality food, getting to a medical appointment on time, and supporting family and school activities and commitments.
Fortunately, Credit Acceptance has thought creatively about this problem for more than 50 years. Credit Acceptance is a premier indirect auto finance company built on the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to finance a vehicle regardless of their credit history. It works with an extensive network of auto dealers to make auto financing more accessible.
“More than 40% of adults living in the United States either don’t have a high enough credit score or don’t have any credit score altogether, making them invisible to most lenders,” said Andrew Rostami, Chief Marketing and Product Officer at Credit Acceptance. “We think it’s critical to give consumers a chance, and we look at all the information available to give them an opportunity.”
Prequalification Experience Matches Buyers and Dealers
Credit Acceptance is an indirect auto finance company. It facilitates financing through its network of independent dealerships. It acts as a crucial link between the consumer and the dealer. It works to protect consumers by setting guardrails around the car prices based on industry benchmarks and prohibits unnecessary add-ons that can inflate prices.
It works with consumers who may have damaged credit or have undergone bankruptcy. Others have experienced financial pitfalls through unexpected life events such as divorce or the onset of a medical condition.
Other Credit Acceptance customers are so new to the US that they don’t even have a Social Security number, much less a credit history and a high credit score.
In addition to all that, the way the economy is right now, loans and credit approval are tough to come by for many consumers, Rostami said.
“Banks have generally pulled back on lending,” he said. “Unless you have a prime or super-prime credit score, getting attention from a bank can be difficult.”
Credit Acceptance fixes that through an innovative prequalification experience that ensures each and every consumer in search of credit approval connects with up to three area dealerships ready to say yes. Because not all dealers work with Credit Acceptance, if a consumer is seeking financing from a Credit Acceptance affiliated dealer, they can prequalify through the Credit Acceptance website, and Credit Acceptance will provide a list to ensure they make the proper connection.
Applying for prequalification through Credit Acceptance has no impact on credit score.
“I’ve been involved with consumer financing experience for more than 10 years, and I’ve really come to appreciate how powerful prequalification is for the consumer,” Rostami said. “It provides them not just with an understanding of affordability, but also with the confidence that when they go to make a purchase, they’ll succeed instead of being frustrated.”
Best-in-Class Onboarding and Educational Resources
That’s only the beginning of what Credit Acceptance hopes is a long-lasting relationship that drives positive developments in the life of the buyer. It achieves that through many tools and resources, including a best-in-class onboarding experience that keeps new buyers in the loop about their contracts, payments, and details for using the mobile app, setting up autopay, and learning about payment options.
“You’ll receive texts on your phone that lead you to very rich digital sites that provide convenient access to important information,” Rostami said.
In addition, there’s a wealth of financial education resources that Credit Acceptance calls Extra Credit: a road map aiming to set up every customer for success, even before they become a Credit Acceptance customer.
Extra Credit includes playlists on financial foundations that include primers on financing in general, on optional ancillary products that may be financed with a vehicle, and also on checking accounts, insurance, preventing overdraft fees, credit cards, prepaid cards, and taxes. There are also courses on building financial capability, budgeting, credit scores, and debt management.
In addition to the financial resources, there are also courses on entrepreneurship and business planning, saving and investing, and the fundamentals of auto financing. Users may track their progress in each course and mark sections as completed.
“We think it’s essential not to abandon the customer after they make the purchase but to continue to give them the resources they need to succeed,” Rostami said.
As if that weren’t enough, Credit Acceptance follows up with a page of general information on what consumers should know about its service. It offers extensive questions and answers about how it operates. It provides a collection of informative videos, a blog filled with general information, a resource center, a monthly car payment calculator, and a compendium of information about credit and privacy.
In short, Credit Acceptance leaves no stone unturned in ensuring customers get what they want and need when they visit: a chance to purchase a car and turn it into a life-changing positive event.
“Credit challenges can come from unforeseen circumstances outside the consumer’s control,” Rostami said. “Our view is that should not define someone’s future.”
Empowering Consumers Through Access to Transportation
Think again if you don’t believe having access to fairer auto financing and personal transportation can make a life-changing difference. Rostami remembers a recent customer, newly divorced, who owned a beat-up old car with a dead engine. He couldn’t get his kids to school. He tried to purchase a car elsewhere, but other dealers denied his applications, and he needed a larger down payment than he could afford.
Once a dealer in the Credit Acceptance network approved him, the platform started to give him some educational resources. He learned the value of financial discipline and was able to make regular payments.
But that was just the start. Thanks to the skills the customer learned and the flexibility owning a working car gave him, he was also able to increase his savings.
“Now he’s in a position to purchase his first home, save for retirement, send his oldest child to college, and buy an even better car,” Rostami said. “Talk about second chances — it’s a great example of why we’re dedicated to providing these opportunities.”
The most common credit measure in the US, the FICO Score, provides a benchmark for evaluating customer creditworthiness, but Credit Acceptance goes far beyond that. It also looks at alternative measures, such as income, to obtain the total picture and provide consumers with the greatest possible chance of getting access to credit to purchase an affordable vehicle.
After approval, Credit Acceptance provides customers information regularly to build success upon success. It is responsive to user feedback, using it to innovate new products and features, such as a digital signing experience to help applicants secure a cosigner remotely instead of in person.
In addition to price guardrails and limitations on add-on features, Credit Acceptance allows access to higher-mileage cars that are good buys for customers with limited down payment potential who are just establishing or re-establishing credit, or those who have ITIN numbers and don’t have a Social Security Number.
“Our mission is to give consumers access to an affordable car and have the same job prospects and quality of life that many of us take for granted,” Rostami said.