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There's a special credit score lenders use when approving you for an auto loan—here's how to check it

Checking your FICO Auto Score can help you know where you stand with auto lenders.

Adam Hester | Corbis | Getty Images

The pandemic has had a huge impact on consumers' finances and spending habits. It's helped many save up more money since World War 2 and convinced others to avoid public transit at all costs. These two phenomena are causing a record number of Americans to get their hands on a new set of wheels.

The first step of most big-ticket purchases, including buying a new (or used) car, is often figuring out financing. While auto loans are becoming more affordable to offset the steep cost of cars right now, your loan terms and rates will vary based on your credit score. Fortunately, you can check your credit score before applying to see what type of loan you may qualify for.

VantageScore® and FICO® Score are the two main scoring models that provide credit scores. Both score consumers on a scale from 300 to 850, and auto lenders may use either to approve you for a new car loan or lease. Knowing the widely used FICO Score 8 and 9, and VantageScore 3.0 and 4.0, won't hurt, but there's a credit score made solely for auto lenders that's worth looking at when looking to finance a car.

What credit score is used when buying a car

Different car lenders check different credit scores, so you won't know for sure which one they will look at when determining your auto loan application. Your best bet, however, would be to check something called an industry-specific score.

FICO provides industry-specific scores that consumers can refer to when making certain purchases like a car or home. (Check out the full list of FICO's score versions for different financial products.) Just like a standard credit score, your industry-specific score helps determine future loan terms and interest rates.

The FICO Auto Score considers your usual credit behaviors but puts more emphasis on how you've managed auto loan payments in the past. It considers things like: have you consistently made your loan payments, and on time? FICO Auto Scores range from 250 to 900 and have several versions, including FICO Auto Scores 2, 4, 5 and 8. The easiest way to check all four FICO Auto Scores at the same time is through FICO's credit monitoring service.

Knowing your auto-related credit score can be useful when financing a car, since it can affect your loan terms and rates. Any increase in your interest rate can lead to a higher monthly payment and paying thousands of dollars more over the course of a loan.

How to check all versions of your FICO Auto Score

If you want to finance a car with an auto loan, signing up for one of the FICO® Basic, Advanced or Premier credit monitoring services can help.

All three FICO Basic, Advanced and Premier plans offer access to 28 versions of your credit score so you can use it when applying for any type of credit, including auto loans, mortgages and credit cards. These three services will also alert you of potential fraud, such as someone opening a new loan in your name or a sharp spike in your credit card balance.

If all you want are the multiple versions of your FICO Score, sign up for Basic, the lowest tier, to save more money each month. Learn more about the differences between each FICO credit monitoring service.

FICO® Basic, Advanced and Premier

On myFICO's secure site
  • Cost

    $19.95 to $39.95 per month

  • Credit bureaus monitored

    Experian for Basic plan or Experian, Equifax and TransUnion for Advanced and Premier plans

  • Credit scoring model used


  • Dark web scan

    Yes, for Advanced and Premier plans

  • Identity insurance

    Yes, up to $1 million

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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