You're trying to get a loan but you're worried that your credit score isn't high enough for bank approval. What do you do? It's a question a lot of people have been asking since the beginning of the recession. Fortunately, there are concrete answers capable of providing you the direction you're looking for.

Before getting to any specific recommendations, it's important to first define what the credit score is. A credit score is a mathematical representation of how likely you are to default on a loan within the first few months of obtaining it. It turns out that the credit score is also a fairly accurate predictor of your financial future. There are a number of different credit scores used in the U.S., the most common being the FICO score.

If you find a low credit score is preventing you from getting the credit or the terms you want, you have three options:

1. Negotiate with the Lender

Most of us accept the initial offer presented by the lender without ever considering the fact that credit is negotiable. It never hurts to contact the lender and explain your situation. There might be extenuating circumstances that would convince the lender you are not the risk they perceive you to be.

Negotiating with the lender is especially helpful when trying to procure a mortgage through a broker. Your broker won't be able to do anything about the offer you've been presented, but you might have some sway by talking to the lender directly. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you ask for an explanation of the lender's decision. It might turn out to be something you can easily remedy.

2. Ask Someone to Co-Sign with You

Sometimes your credit score might be low enough that a lender won't even make you an offer. That's the time when a co-signer might be your best bet. A co-signer is a friend or relative willing to guarantee payment of the loan on your behalf. Such a person can help you get credit if you are not eligible otherwise.

The danger here is one of making an enemy of your co-signer. Remember, whoever co-signs will be responsible for paying the loan if you fail to do so. Be absolutely sure you can afford to repay your loan before you ask a family member or friend to co-sign.

3. Look at the Secondary Market

Nearly all forms of credit have both primary and secondary markets. For example, a credit card company might offer the best cards to customers with the highest credit scores. People with lower credit scores might have to settle for a secured card until their credit scores rebound. In the world of mortgages, an FHA mortgage is a secondary product.

Your credit score may not be high enough to allow you to get primary products. But look around to see what secondary products are available. You might be surprised.

If none of these options work for you, the only other thing you can do is wait. But don't simply do nothing. Instead, do what you can to rebuild your credit. Doing so will help your future attempts to obtain car loans, qualify for personal loans, mortgages and credit cards.