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Deciding on options to repair credit?

So I have a very low credit score just barely over 500. Now that I finally have a full time job after college I am working on paying off my debt collectors (I have many, in collections, and closed accounts) on a monthly payment plan. At the very least, it's kept my credit level and hasn't decreased since I've made the effort.

I am currently in a unique position to purchase a vehicle using cash ($7k-10k). I am aware that paying cash for the vehicle will not help my credit. If I am somehow approved for an auto loan I know that I will have to deal with a very high interest rate, etc. If I go that route - knowing I have the cash to pay off the entire loan, would it be best to make monthly payments hoping that this will create a history of good credit? Or would I be better off paying it off within 2-3 months (or any other variation).

Also - Opening a secured credit card (again, if I am eligible) would that also work in tandem with an auto loan to slowly raise my credit? Thanks everyone, I appreciate the guidance.

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