What Credit Do You Need to Purchase a Motorcycle?

You can finance a motorcycle through a bank, dealership or even an investment firm.

You can finance a motorcycle through a bank, dealership or even an investment firm.

There's nothing like a motorcycle to soak in the freedom of the highways and maybe, just maybe, keep yourself feeling young. It's just a matter of putting together the finances to put yourself in that dream ride. As far as lenders are concerned, cycles share the financial roads with cars. If you had good enough credit to get a car loan then you probably have good enough credit for a motorcycle loan.

Credit Score

Most financial institutions have one automobile loan product to refinance cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles and even boats. Typically, you can only qualify for one of these loans if you meet the lender's minimum credit score requirement. Lending standards vary between lenders, but most will reject a person with a credit scored less than 620. Lending options for people with subprime credit are few and far between at major banks. Some major lenders and dealerships raise the bar even higher; they will only deal with a person with a score of at least 680. If you are credit score challenged, your only option may be the shop the small institutions, such as a member-run credit union. Some of those have less restrictive lending standards and finance vehicles for people with low credit scores.

Subprime Lenders

Prior to the recession that began in 2007, many investment firms specialized in subprime lending. Borrowers had to contend with high interest rates, and very often their loans included various penalty fees and hefty closing costs. By 2012, the lending standards had tightened and subprime loans were more difficult to find. However, some vehicle dealers still offered in-house financing to people with no credit or bad credit. As with subprime loans, if you take such a deal you can expect to pay a high rate of interest on your bike. In some instances, these kinds of financiers do not report the debt to the credit bureau. That means you do not see the long-term benefit of making your payment on time.

Interest Rates

Interest rates for the bike can go from near zero to "wow" in an instant based on your credit history. Many lenders have several rate tiers with interest rates gradually rising until you reach subprime territory. People with credit scores in excess of 740 pay the lowest rates. There is a potential "catch" to all this. You could find out your credit score meets the lender's standards, but the numbers aren't strong enough to avoid a high interest rate. You may realize you'll end up with high monthly payments you can't afford. Sadly, that means even though your credit is acceptable, you still can't finance your cycle.


If your credit score directly or indirectly ruins your chances to ride, you could ask your spouse or significant other to co-sign the loan. A co-signer can rev up your case if that individual has good credit and enough income to handle the debt payments. Your lender may require you to add the co-signer's name to the title, but that does not mean that your other half actually has to start riding the bike on a regular basis. However, your co-signer does share the responsibility for repaying the debt.


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