What you need to know about your credit scores before applying for poor credit auto loans

If you know the score

If you already know your credit scores you can probably skip this article. But if you don't, you might want to read on.

This is because here at Auto Credit Express we've been involved with bad credit auto sales for over two decades. In that time we've helped hundreds of buyers get financed while showing them how to avoid a tote the note dealer (those outside our retail areas can fill out an online auto loans application and get directed to the right dealer) while educating them about auto loans (to avoid repossession).

But to start with, you should know if you really need one of these problem credit auto loans. If not, you might qualify for a fair credit auto loan or even a conventional car loan.

How to find out

To see where you stand, you'll have to order your credit reports and credit scores from each of the credit bureaus. To order all three at no charge (you're allowed one per year from each bureau), go to www.annualcreditreport.com. To get your credit scores, you'll need to order one and pay for it from each bureau.

You can also visit a site such as www.FreeScore360.com. For a fee, you'll receive all three reports and all three credit scores at the same time.

Once you receive your scores, it's time to interpret them.

Credit score types

All three bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, use a version of the FICO score. Equifax calls it a BEACON score, Experian calls theirs the Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model and at TransUnion it's called an EMPIRICA score. Together, the three bureaus also share a new score that they developed called VantageScore.

In a perfect world, all three FICO or VantageScore scores would be the same, but they're not. In most cases, this has to do with the information that appears in each of your credit reports.


Unless your credit file is fairly new, there are bound to be differences between your three credit reports. This is because:

1.    Some creditors report to only one or two of the three bureaus.
2.    It may take one bureau longer to report a new creditor
3.    It may take one bureau longer to remove an old credit file
4.    One, two, or even all three of the bureaus may be reporting inaccurate or incomplete credit information

Any of these factors, and others, can result in differing credit scores. In addition, car dealers use what is known as an “auto enhanced” score that adds weight to your car loan history – meaning that you have yet another type of score to deal with.

Where your score fits in

Now that you know why your scores are different, it's time to see where they fit in and what kind of car loan you might qualify for.

Here is how Experian tiers the two types of credit scores:

Super prime:
FICO Score: 740 plus
VantageScore: 801-990

FICO Score: 680-739
VantageScore: 701-800

FICO Score: 620-679
VantageScore: 641-700

FICO Score: 550-619
VantageScore: 601-640

Deep subprime:
FICO Score: less than 550
VantageScore: 501-600

In this case, super prime is the best of the best, prime is excellent credit, near prime is fair credit, subprime is bad credit while deep subprime means you'll probably only qualify for horrible credit auto loans.

The Bottom Line

By knowing your credit scores, you'll know if you qualify for a bad credit car loan – usually a FICO score in the 550 to 640 range with previous auto credit history.

If you fall into this range, Auto Credit Express can match you with a dealer than can help. These dealers are knowledgeable and work with a broad spectrum of lenders to ensure you have your best chance at getting approved for a car loan.

So if you are serious about getting your car credit back on track, you can begin a new chapter by filling out our bad credit car loan application now.