My desire is to purchase a Mini Countryman for my 43rd birthday (11/17/15). However, medical bills have lowered by credit score greatly {below 600 :( }. I'm working a second to pay off these bills and three credit cards to increase my score.




  1.  Will I be able to increase my credit score by November or December?
  2. Will I be required to have a downpayment going through the car buying program with USAA?
  3. Does USAA have a counseling program that would assist me with staying on track?



Ms. Cunningham


No offense, but buying a Mini while dealing with credit card and medical debt is a really terrible idea. Not to mention, with a credit score in the 500s, any auto loan you're likely to find will be at a ridiculous interest rate and will only increase your debt.


Once your debt is paid off your credit score should take a bit of a jump (I'm assuming some or all of your debt is in collections since it's hurt your credit score).

No offense taken. l stated November or December was my goal for getting my new car. Meaning, all of my medical bills will be paid off by then.

In fact, I will have my bills paid off by July 2015.

Only one is in collection (last payment 4/30/15)

The one is on a payment plan. (last payment 6/30/15)

Remember, my question focused on improving my credit score not killing it by getting a high interest loan.

Hey Ms. Cunningham,

It sounds like you have a goal that is motivating you to get your financial house in order...so, that's a good thing!  I'm not sure that the goal itself is "financially good," but it's got you focused on the right things.


If all happens as you have planned (all debts gone and credit card balances at zero by this summer), I'm pretty certain your score will go up, it's just impossible to tell how much.  Under the right circumstances, eight months is certainly enough time to see a pretty significant  move.


I'm not involved in banking (or lending decisions) here at USAA, but ideally you want to be in a much better place to get approved and to also get the best rate possible.  Whether you use it for a downpayment (we typically recommend a 15% downpayment), building up some savings between now and November makes a lot of sense.


USAA has advisors you can help you (800-771-9960) and we even have a team focused on financial improvement.  If you're looking for help closer to home, find a counselor at www.nfcc.org. Counselors affiliated with this organization are located across the country and usually can help you for little or no cost.


As far as your credit score, a few  things to remember:

-do whatever it takes to be on time from this point forward, this is a big deal in credit scoring.

-don't close your credit cards after you pay them off (unused credit lines are a good thing in the scoring models)

-check your credit history (www.annualcreditreport.com) to make sure it's accurate and stays accurate as you clean things up, if there are errors, dispute them.


Good luck and let us know how it goes. 




MyFico.com has a credit score simulator that may be able to give you an idea of where your credit score will be. They're not a free service, but you can sign up for their initial introductory offer ($5) and then cancel it within the first month. They'll tell you your credit score and then estimate what it will look like if something changes. For instance, if you select "pay off all my credit card debt" it will tell you what your credit score might look at over a period of time afterwards.


I wouldn't recommend actually keeping their product after the introductory month. Their prices are ridiculous and, from what I've heard, their credit monitoring isn't very good.