Many people know the difference between prime and subprime in terms of lending. Prime lending is characterized by sparkling facade of low interest rates and banks fighting for business, the customer skipping down the emerald road on their way to a super-great deal and a lifetime of free oil changes. Subprime is the murky, seedy underbelly filled with murderers and thieves, Doberman Pinschers behind a chain-link fence. A lot of people have to walk that lonely road, with mainstream dealers unable to procure decent loans for them. We used to be able to help people before the credit crisis. Not so much anymore.
I hate the term subprime. I'm not a fan of categorizing people by a three-digit number. People can control what their credit report says, but I don't think that a label should be attached to that group of people that have hit bumps in the road. I guess it's easier to describe a person's situation by giving it a label, but still, I don't think it's necessarily right. I know a lot of good people that have had some kind of tragedy or circumstance wreak havoc on their finances, and because of this there are dealers who look down upon them. I don't agree.
To say someone's "subprime" is a way of demeaning them; saying they are worth less than someone who is "prime". While a lower credit score means it is harder to lock down financing, we can't look down our noses at those people. We need to help them.