Can a 72 year old get a car loan?

Quick Overview

It is possible for a 72 year old to get a car loan, but it may be more difficult than for younger borrowers. Lenders consider factors like income, credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and life expectancy when deciding whether to approve loans for older borrowers. 72 year olds with good credit and steady income sources can likely qualify for a car loan, but may need to put down a larger down payment and may not get the best interest rates.

Factors That Affect Loan Approval

Several key factors determine if a 72 year old can qualify for an auto loan:


Lenders want to see that the borrower has enough income to comfortably make the monthly car payments. Many 72 year olds are on fixed retirement incomes from sources like Social Security and pensions. Lenders will review the monthly or annual income from verifiable sources. Higher incomes improve the chances of loan approval.

Credit Score

Credit scores indicate the borrower’s history of repaying debts. Older adults often have very good credit due to decades of managing credit accounts responsibly. Typical credit score requirements for auto loans are 640 to 700 and above. Higher scores in the good to excellent range (740+) lead to better loan terms.

Existing Debts

Lenders review the applicant’s full debt load using their debt-to-income ratio. This compares total monthly debt payments to monthly gross income. Lower DTI ratios of 30-36% or less often mean approval, while high DTIs over 50% can make approval difficult. Paying down debts can help improve this ratio.

Down Payment

A larger down payment reduces the amount financed, which causes lenders to view the loan as less risky. While low or no down payment options exist, applicants with higher credit risks often need down payments of 20% or more for approval.

Life Expectancy

Since lenders want assurance that loans will be repaid over their full term, borrowers with shorter life expectancies may have difficulty qualifying by themselves. Some lenders impose maximum age limits for this reason, often between 70 to 75 years old.

Loan Application Tips for Older Borrowers

Seniors who prepare properly can optimize their chances of a car loan approval:

– Shop lenders that work with older buyers – Online lenders, credit unions and community banks can offer more flexible requirements than large banks.

– Apply with a co-signer – A younger co-signer with good credit and income can improve the chances of loan approval substantially.

– Put down a sizable down payment – Down payments of at least 20%, or even 25-30% of the vehicle purchase price appeal to lenders.

– Choose a shorter loan term – Opt for a 3 year loan instead of 5-6 years to show greater repayment ability.

– Buy new or gently used – Vehicles that hold value better mean lower lending risks.

– Keep your loan amount low – Keep the total loan amount below 50% of your annual income.

– Pay down existing debts – Reducing credit card, mortgage and other debts can allow taking on new auto loan payments more comfortably.

What Lenders Look For

Below are key criteria lenders evaluate when reviewing auto loan applications for older consumers:


– Maximum age limits may apply, often 70-75 years old
– Applicants in their 60s likely have better success

Income Sources

– Social Security and pension income are acceptable
– Amounts must safely cover existing debts and new payment
– Additional income sources improve chances

Credit Scores

– Minimum scores of 640 to 700 often required
– Scores above 700 help obtain better loan terms
– Any negative marks or red flags must be minor

Existing Debt Obligations

– Debt-to-income ratio ideally below 35%
– Mortgage payments must be affordable
– Any credit card balances should be low

Down Payment Amount

– At least 20% down or higher is recommended
– Lower loan-to-value means lower risk for lender

Loan Term

– 3 year terms are attractive
– 5-6 year terms may be allowed with good credit

Co-signer Availability

– Co-signer with income improves chances greatly
– Co-signer’s credit score should be good or better

Getting Pre-Approved

Being pre-approved for financing can streamline the car buying process for older adults. Here are some tips for getting pre-approved:

– Check credit reports and scores – This gives time to correct any issues. Scores above 700 have the best approval odds.

– Research lender options – Find lenders open to senior borrowers, like credit unions, community banks and specialized online lenders.

– Verify income amounts – Gather documentation for income sources like Social Security, pensions and retirement account withdrawals.

– Minimize existing debts – Pay down credit cards and other debts to lower your debt ratios.

– Apply for pre-approval – Complete loan applications with one or more lenders. Comparing offers helps find the best loan terms.

– Get pre-approval letters – These show car dealers you are a serious buyer with financing readiness.

– Compare vehicle options – With financing pre-approval in place, you can shop confidently for cars that meet your budget and preferences.

Improving Your Chances

If your initial auto loan application is denied, there are steps 72 year old applicants can potentially take to improve their chances on re-application:

– Wait and re-apply later – Delaying a few months gives time to improve your financial profile.

– Pay down existing debts – Reducing credit card balances, loans and other debts provides more disposable income.

– Make a larger down payment – Come back with a bigger down payment amount ready, like 25-30% of the vehicle price.

– Add a co-signer – Finding a co-signer with good credit and income can give a major boost.

– Lower the amount borrowed – Aim for a less expensive vehicle with a smaller loan amount.

– Include additional income – Provide documents showing more income sources, like part-time work, rentals, etc.

– Check for credit report errors – Dispute and correct any inaccurate negative marks on your credit reports.

– Write an explanatory letter – A letter explaining any past credit issues can help persuade decision makers.

With some time and effort, 72 year old applicants can often overcome an initial loan denial and improve their chances.

Alternatives to Traditional Auto Loans

If a 72 year old struggles to get approved for a standard auto loan, some options to consider include:

Borrowing Against Life Insurance Policies

Many whole life insurance policies allow borrowing against a portion of the cash value. Interest rates are often much lower than auto loans.

Borrowing Against Home Equity

Home equity loans or lines of credit have lower rates and can fund a car purchase if sufficient equity exists.

Using a Retirement Plan Loan

Certain retirement plans like 401(k)s may permit borrowing against yourself. This avoids credit checks.

Paying Cash

Selling investments, receivables or using savings to buy a less expensive used car with cash.

Co-signing with Someone

Adding a younger co-signer with good credit can mean approval on more favorable terms.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Online peer lending networks may offer more flexible unsecured loan options at reasonable costs.

Purchasing New vs Used at Age 72

Here is a comparison of some pros and cons for 72 year olds buying new versus used vehicles with an auto loan:

New Car Benefits

– May obtain 0% or low APR financing deals
– Under warranty for repairs
– Latest safety and technology features
– Custom ordering exact preferences
– Peace of mind for later years

Used Car Benefits

– Lower sticker prices mean smaller loans
– Often better value for dollar spent
– Wider selection of vehicles
– Lower sales taxes on purchases
– Higher resale value retention

New Car Considerations

– Higher loan amounts required
– Steeper depreciation when new
– Potential reliability risks on first model year
– Higher collision insurance costs

Used Car Considerations

– No factory warranty coverage
– Higher maintenance and repair costs
– Limited or no remaining factory coverage
– Less certainty on vehicle history & condition

On balance, buying used often makes more financial sense for cash-strapped 72 year old borrowers. But new cars can be a reasonable choice for seniors who plan to keep vehicles longer term or place high value on peace of mind.

Tips for Reducing Loan Costs

Below are some suggestions 72 year old borrowers can use to try reducing their auto loan costs:

– Shop for the best interest rates across multiple lenders. Even small rate differences of 0.5% or more can save substantially on financing charges.

– Opt for shorter loan terms like 3 years instead of 5-6 years. This minimizes interest paid over the life of the loan.

– Make a larger down payment if possible, at least 20%, to reduce the principal borrowed.

– Buy a gently used 2-3 year old model instead of brand new to avoid steepest depreciation.

– Choose a less expensive vehicle that meets your needs to minimize the amount borrowed.

– Investigate manufacturer financing offers which are sometimes interest free or have other incentives.

– Ask dealers about senior auto loan discounts they may offer to win your business.

– Improve credit score and reduce debts before applying to qualify for better rates offered to lower-risk borrowers.

– Add a co-signer with good credit to qualify for a lower interest rate reserved for better credit profiles.

Common Credit Report Issues

Below are some common credit report mistakes and problems 72 year old auto loan applicants should watch out for:

– Errors from identity theft – Someone illegally opening accounts in your name.

– Incorrect personal information – Outdated home address, employers, etc.

– Closed accounts shown open – Account listed open after you closed it.

– Accounts that aren’t yours – Accounts wrongly attributed to you.

– Payment status errors – On-time payments showing late or non-payment.

– Improper inquiry listing – Credit check not requested by you.

– Identity confusion – Mixed with another person with a similar name.

– Data management mistakes – Information matching failures.

– Outdated negative items – Late pays or collections from years ago still listed.

Thoroughly reviewing credit reports from Equifax, Experian and Transunion can identify any discrepancies to dispute. This protects your credit standing.


While getting a car loan at age 72 presents some challenges, it is certainly possible with prudent preparation and shopping. Those with good credit, verifiable income sources and moderate existing debt levels will have the best chance of approval on favorable terms. Following the guidance in this article will help older adults present the best loan application profile possible. With some effort, most 72 year old consumers can succeed in financing an automobile purchase to meet their lifestyle needs.

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