A FICO auto score is similar to — but distinct from — a traditional FICO credit score. It’s an algorithm-based model that uses data from your credit report to predict how likely it is you will repay any future auto loans on time.
The FICO auto score is a concept that’s often misunderstood by both car buyers and lenders. It can make the difference between getting approved for a car loan or being denied. Understanding what a FICO auto score is and how it differs from a regular FICO score can help you get the financing you need when buying a car. Read on to learn more about FICO auto scores.
How does a FICO auto score work?
FICO is one of the major credit rating bureaus that collects data and provides credit scores. According to MyFICO, your credit score based on the following factors as of 2023:
- Payment history: 35%
- Credit utilization rate: 30%
- Length of credit history: 15%
- Mix of credit: 10%
- New credit: 10%
FICO first calculates your traditional credit score and adjusts the calculation based on auto-industry-specific details. FICO will give more weight to your past auto loan payments, including whether you’ve paid them on time. From there, it will determine your unique FICO auto score, which typically ranges from 250 to 900.
FICO auto score vs. regular FICO score
The main difference is that FICO adjusts the calculation based on auto-industry-specific details. Typically, your auto loan payment history will weigh more heavily on your FICO auto score than your regular FICO score.
The same factors that influence your regular FICO score, including credit utilization rate and overall payment history.
How do I find out my FICO auto score?
Although you can view your regular credit score online for free through various sites, your FICO auto score is a different story.
Often, you’ll have to purchase your auto loan credit report to view your FICO auto score.
Which FICO score do car dealerships use?
Car dealerships may look into either or both your regular FICO credit report and your FICO auto score.
What is the FICO auto score range?
FICO auto scores range on a scale from 250 to 900. The higher the score, the better your creditworthiness and the more favorable the terms and interest rates you’re likely to receive when applying for an auto loan.
What is a good FICO auto score?
Many lenders consider any credit score above 700 to be a good score. Exact figures can vary by lender.
Do you need a FICO auto score to buy a car?
Some lenders will only accept a specialized credit score, such as a FICO auto score. Other lenders may be more lenient and only look at your regular credit score. Contact your desired lender to ask about its specific credit score requirements.
Things to consider with FICO auto score
Below are some key points to keep in mind about FICO auto scores.
Your base score still matters
FICO auto scores are derived from your base credit score. Although auto loan payment history matters more on your FICO auto score, many other traditional factors will still play a role.
A good credit score isn’t always clear
Most lenders consider any figure above 700 to be a good credit score, but some may require a higher number. The best way to know is to contact the lender you plan to work with.
Credit utilization rate
Most lenders want to know you’re responsible with your credit accounts. This is best translated through your credit utilization rate. Ideally, you want to keep your credit utilization rate at or below 30% to keep your base credit score and FICO auto score healthy.
Mistakes can happen
It’s not uncommon for people to find mistakes or incorrect information on their credit reports. This holds for auto credit reports as well. Make sure to double-check that all the information is correct. If not, contact the credit bureau and file a dispute.
You can improve your FICO auto score
Even if you have a couple of derogatory marks or late payments on your auto loan credit report, you can still aim to improve your FICO auto score.
Advantages of a FICO auto score
FICO auto scores are a great way for auto-industry-specific lenders to understand how trustworthy you are when it comes to managing car payments. Even if you’ve lacked in other credit areas but you managed to stay on top of your auto payments, then your FICO auto score may be higher than your base score.
Disadvantages of a FICO auto score
If you’ve fallen behind on auto payments, your FICO auto score could be low. If this is the case, you may have trouble qualifying for an auto loan or could potentially pay a higher interest rate.
Just a Number You Can Control
Your FICO auto score is one aspect of your financial health and can impact your ability to get an auto loan. Your credit report updates every 30 days, so you’ve always got an opportunity to make some changes and improve your FICO auto score.
What is a FICO auto score and how is it different from a regular FICO score?
A FICO auto score is a credit score created specifically for auto loans and leases. It takes into account the same factors as a regular FICO score, such as payment history, length of credit history, and amount of debt, but places more emphasis on your history of auto loan payments.
How is a FICO auto score used in the process of buying a car?
A FICO auto score is used by lenders to determine how likely you are to repay an auto loan based on your credit history. By looking at this score, lenders can decide whether they should extend you an auto loan or lease and what interest rate they should offer you. If you have a high score, it may result in a lower interest rate than someone with a lower score.
How often should you check your FICO auto score?
It’s important to check your FICO auto score before applying for an auto loan or lease so that you can be sure it accurately reflects your financial situation. Checking your score regularly is recommended because changes in your credit report can affect it over time. It’s best to check at least once per year (or more often if you plan on financing a big purchase) to ensure that any errors have been corrected and that your score accurately reflects the current state of your financial health.