My mother was with me at the ultrasound when I found out that I was pregnant with twins. Never
one to pull any punches, before we even left the hospital she told me, “You’re going to need
another car.” Of course I knew this. My 2005 Mercury Sable did an acceptable job of
transporting around an adult (sometimes two) and a toddler. But adding two newborns to the
equation might be pushing the envelope.
Needless to say, my twins were born and they were driven home in that Sable. I had just moved
a month prior and most of my available cash went towards moving expenses. I had several
inquiries on my credit report from potential landlords and furniture stores already so I did not
want to add car dealers to the list. Plus I figured that I should hold out until I get my tax refund in early 2018. That way, I can just buy a car outright; and not have to worry about a car payment
or credit inquiry.
The Bleak Land of Car Buying in 2018
When it came time to do my taxes, I was a bit surprised that my tax refund was not this big windfall of money. After taking out the cash I needed for other expenses, I would have about $5K to work with. Initially I was encouraged at what I was seeing on the used car market. I wanted a modest SUV; like a Nissan Rogue or Chevy Traverse. However my #1 priority was finding a car that could fit 3
rear-facing child car seats (with the LATCH anchors), two adults, and decent cargo space. I was surprised that most SUV’s, even the ones with the third row, could not meet this requirement.
When I was younger, used car shopping was much simpler. However today, more and more
Americans are holding on to their cars for longer periods of time. That cuts down on selection; especially in regards to vehicles sold by private sellers. Used car lots sadly have not done much
to address their reputations as shady, opportunistic entities. The main difference that I noticed
was that you now had a plethora of ‘buy here, pay here’ or ‘rent to own’ lots. These lots had lots
of beautiful vehicles for sale. But trying find the price of these vehicles was like trying to
decipher Morse code.
All this time I am also trying to take care of two newborns, a toddler and trying to dig myself out
of a mountain of work that accrued during my maternity leave. And then there was my Sable. I
ordered a double stroller that would not fit in the car no matter how hard I tried. My ex-partner needed to use it 3-4 nights a week to go to work. I fielded a couple of inquiries to car dealers via web forms. In many cases they did soft inquiries into my credit and then said “Come in and I can
show you the car and then we can discuss financing.” Ugh. I needed a car badly but I did not
have time to play games (and make a trip, see a car, and then be turned down for financing). My credit was already hurting due to my decreased income due to my maternity leave. Applying and being denied for car loans was NOT something that I needed to deal with at this point in my life!
I saw a Facebook ad for Carvana and figured I would browse around. First of all I’ll be the first to
admit that their website is very slick. It is very inviting and intuitive and you just want to linger
around and browse and browse their incredible inventory. Even so, I hesitated to create an
account because I did not want to get my hopes up just to be disappointed. But then I read
online that in order to create a profile (and hence get your financing details), only a soft pull on your credit was needed.
So I bit the bullet. I created a profile and with my 560 credit score*, I was surprised to discover
that for most vehicles I qualified for no money down with a 10.56 APR!
* - I am not privy to the underwriting guidelines of their financing; but I 'think' my income, which was $51K annually + bonus at the time, helped me to get approved.
True, this wasn’t a fabulous rate by any means. But it made putting a (nice) car in my driveway
a very feasible dream. I didn’t place an order right away because I needed time to contemplate
if my budget could handle a regular car payment. I also kept an eye on my credit report. No
hard inquiry from either Carvana or Bridgecrest (the company that does the financing). I then
decided I would go ahead and place an order; fully expecting to either be denied, have my
interest rate increased, or have some additional hoops to go through. Nope. The only
supplemental item I needed to supply was the change of address card for my driver’s license
since my actual ID had my old address and not my new one.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered – It’s Yours!
While Carvana’s website gives you a very ambitious delivery date of a few days, being that I
had to supply additional documentation and I needed a time and day that would work with my
schedule, the Honda Odyssey that ordered didn’t arrive until almost 2 weeks after I placed my
order. I was still keeping an eye on my credit report. Not even a hard pull yet.
On delivery day, the Carvana guy was about 10 minutes late (not a big deal) but called to let me
know about the delay. He was very nice…had some gifts for me and the boys (a tote bag, stress
balls, drink cup, mints, footballs and frisbees); all the paperwork that I needed to sign; and his
iPad to take pictures of my ID and insurance information. It was a pleasant exchange because
the sale was already made and he didn’t have to worry about commission or anything. He
explained the process of getting tags and title (which is a bit complicated since the vehicle is
licensed in Georgia…but they do what they can to ease the pain of the transfer…including
issuing a check to reimburse titling and inspection costs). And then he was gone. The entire
exchange took about 30 minutes. And 15 minutes of that was me installing car seats so that I
could take the babies with me out on the test drive.
Do I Recommend? Yes!
My 7 day trial period came and went and I decided to keep the van. Yey! My delivery guy gave
me a courtesy call two days before the trial period ended to let me know of the time remaining
(which was nice). This entire time, I as pretty in awe of the process. No harassing phone calls
begging for your business; no asking for 20,000 documents to support your finance application;
no bait and switch. None of that. Just a fully transparent, easy process.
But most importantly, Carvana respects your time. When you have bad credit, it is routine to
browse and oogle over a vehicle; only to sit down for an hour or so with a ‘finance manager’ to
pull teeth over finance eligibility and terms. Sometimes you go through all of that only to be
completely denied (or at least denied from the vehicle that you wanted). You travel from dealer
to dealer…lot to lot, practically begging for someone to give you a car loan. And of course, the
entire process makes you feel lower than low.
Now I’m sure that financial gurus might balk at my financing terms. Oh well. I’m willing to pay a
bit for piece of mind and the safety and comfort of my kids. Instead of that $5K being taken to
buy a hooptie in full, I’m going to use it to make my first year of car payments. After that I plan to
refinance (and hopefully my credit will be in better shape by then)…and then pay that loan down
early by making the same (or slightly reduced) monthly payment. Oh, and I’m also banking that
cash in a high yield savings account at Ally bank. Again, not a perfect scenario; but it works for
So if you have bad credit and you need a decent used car, please check out Carvana. You may
not get the best rate in the world but the stress and pressure you’ll miss out on will be well worth
it, trust me!