For consumers with problem credit it is especially important that they know exactly what information is contained in all three of their credit reports before applying for an auto loan

Where credit repair starts

Car buyers with problem credit should be aware of just what is and is not contained in all three of their credit reports before beginning the application process for a car loan.

At Auto Credit Express we know this is true because for the past twenty years we've been helping car shoppers with bad credit searching the internet for online car loans find those dealers that can offer them their best opportunities for car loan approvals.

And while most credit-challenged buyers know they should be doing this, the fact remains that many buyers that have experienced past credit issues still don't understand how to look up a credit report – some even confuse a credit report with a credit score.

So here's the scoop:

Credit reports

A credit report is simply a snapshot of a consumer's borrowing and repayment history over a seven year period (some items, such as bankruptcies, remain for ten years). Banks, credit card issuers and other institutions that extend credit in most cases report loans and payments to one, two or even all three major credit reporting agencies here in the U.S. – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

All three credit reports share similarities. Each contains what is known as "applied for" credit. This is credit that is extended to individuals from credit grantors based on that consumer's request. Applied for credit entries can include information from sources such as automotive lenders, home mortgage lenders and credit card companies.

Credit reports may also list "not applied for" credit entries. These are accounts not resulting from an actual request for credit. Not applied for credit entries can include items such as bad checks, unpaid medical bills, tax liens or even civil judgments.

If all a consumer's bills are paid on time, their credit report will not contain any of these "not applied for" account entries.

How to look up a credit report

Requesting a copy of all three of their credit reports allows consumers to see if any of them contain information that is inaccurate. These inaccuracies can cause credit scores to drop that might result in a credit grantor either turning down a credit request or charging the applicant a higher interest rate if the application for credit is approved.

Ordering one, two or even all three reports is quite simple. Federal law requires the three major credit reporting agencies to furnish consumers with one credit report per year per bureau at no charge. This can be done in writing or by going online to (credit scores requested at the same time are not free – there is a charge for them).

For those that don't mind paying a fee, this process can be simplified by visiting sites such as where consumers can receive all three of their credit reports along with the corresponding credit scores.

Once each credit report is accurate and up to day also means that the corresponding FICO scores accurately reflect that individual's credit behavior.

More importantly, these credit scores will also indicate if that person qualifies for a traditional car loan or if they need to find a dealer that offers a broader selection of lenders for credit-challenged consumers.

The division between these types of loan is not a fixed, but car buyers whose credit scores fall below a 640 FICO will usually require something other than a traditional auto loan. If this is the case, consumers usually have these three choices:

1. They can pay cash. The downside to this is that most people don't have the kind of cash needed to purchase either a new car or a low-mileage reliable used car
2. They can visit a BHPH dealer for a no credit check auto loan. The problem with this scenario is that these dealers usually don't report loans or payments to the credit bureaus – which means they'll be in the same credit situation the next time they need a vehicle.
3. They can visit a franchised new car dealer - one that will treat them with respect - that is signed up with a wide range of higher-risk lenders. The downside to this is that many new car dealers don't work with customers that have credit issues and finding one that does can be difficult.

So what's the answer and what can be done to make the process easier? We're glad you asked.

How we can help

Here at Auto Credit Express we specialize in matching consumers in challenging car credit situations with those franchised new car dealers that can offer them their best chance for approved car loans.

So if you're ready to reestablish your auto credit, you can begin now by filling out our online car loan application.