Car buyers with poor credit should know that there are two very different types of credit scores that both credit grantors and the credit reporting agencies use when reviewing an application for an auto loan or lease

What we know

At Auto Credit Express, where we primarily deal with car loans, applicants with bad credit sometimes ask us, "What credit score do you need to lease a car?"

The answer to this question is not always easy even though we've spent the last two decades helping car buyers with questionable credit looking for online car loans find the right kinds of new car dealers for their best opportunities at car loan approvals.

In fact since 2006 there has been an additional credit score that consumers should be aware of besides the well-known FICO score.


The second score is called a VantageScore and it was developed by all three major credit bureaus. Unlike the FICO score that has scoring range of 300 to 850, VantageScore uses a numerical range of 501 to 990. And while FICO scores come with a loose interpretation of what is good, fair or bad credit (the myFICO website states that 720 and above is very good, 660 to 719 is good, 620 to 659 is fair and anything below 620 is considered bad), VantageScore also assigns a letter grade to the scoring ranges thusly:

• 901-990 equals "A" credit
• 801-900 equals "B" credit
• 701-800 equals "C" credit
• 601-700 equals "D" credit
• 501-600 equals "F" credit

Scoring formula

In addition to a different scoring system, VantageScore also uses a different formula for reaching those numbers. Since Fair Isaac owns their mathematical scoring model as well as the scoring system, VantageScore could not duplicate the FICO scoring model even if its creators knew the formula. Not only is their formula different, but the way the VantageScore "weights" the various parts of a consumer's credit history also differs from FICO's.

Here are some of those differences:

Vantage Score FICO
Score Payment history 32% 35%
Balances 15% 30%
Credit Utilization 23% 15%
Depth of Credit 13% 10%
Recent credit opened 10% 10%
Available credit 7% 0%

The implications

It's difficult to say just what these differences will mean to the average consumer - other than the fact that an additional credit scoring model probably will make it that much more confusing for car buyers. In terms of new car leasing, buyers with a FICO score of 720 or more and a VantageScore of 901 or more should have no problem getting approved.

As it is, most people have a hard enough time just monitoring their credit information for three different credit reporting agencies. (For example, if there is inaccurate information listed on all three credit reports and you request that all three remove it, two bureaus may comply it while the third, for whatever reason, might not.)

Adding a second credit score complicates matters even further, although generally speaking, lender acceptance and use of the VantageScore seems to be generally lower than that of the more established FICO score.

It's also not readily apparent that the new scoring system will offer any advantage to consumers – particularly those with new or limited credit histories. More importantly, if VantageScore further limits consumers with damaged credit from having lenders work with them, these potential borrowers lose.

As we see it

The jury still seems to be out on whether lenders will eventually use the VantageScore system interchangeably with that of the more mainstream one developed by FICO. In the mean time, buyers with both good and marginal credit should be aware of both.

It's also important to note that Auto Credit Express helps people that have experienced difficulties with their auto credit find those new car dealers that

can offer them their best chances for approved car loans.

So if you find yourself in this situation and you're ready to reestablish your car credit, you can begin now by filling out our online car loan application.