It might be surprising to hear that you have a secret credit score. It’s used by auto dealerships countrywide to assess your auto loan creditworthiness.

This score is not your typical FICO credit score. You can’t buy it on an individual basis.

It’s called the FICO auto-enhanced credit score.

So, let’s say you’re contemplating buying a car. You’ve done your due diligence and logged into You received copies of your recent credit reports from all three credit bureaus.

You’ve also logged into You’ve accessed your FICO credit scores from all three credit bureaus.

In all, everything looks in order.

You may have missed or paid a couple of car loan payments late over the years. But in all, your FICO credit score looks relatively good.

Equipped with this information you head to the dealership to negotiate the sale. You hope to take advantage of a recent promotion of 0% financing for 60 months.

You’re now at the dealership. You’ve gone through the haggling process. You’ve come to a compromise about the final price of the vehicle.

Now comes the next step: secure financing.

The finance manager runs your credit report and comes back with bad news. You aren’t eligible for the 0% financing promotion.

Instead they will try to get you an auto loan at a whopping interest rate of 15%. Then there’s the mandatory 20% down payment.

At this point, you’ll definitely be wondering why this is happening when your FICO credit score wasn’t too bad.

Here’s the story.

Don’t Let This Credit Score Ruin Your Car Loan

The dealership pays for access to the FICO auto-enhanced credit score. The range for the auto-enhanced credit score is 250 to 900. Different credit information affects it.

For instance, your FICO credit score is greatly influenced by your credit cards. Meanwhile, your FICO auto-enhanced credit score is greatly influenced by your auto history.

These auto-enhanced scores take into account any issues you’ve had in the past. That includes late auto loan payments, repossessions or bankruptcies.

If your FICO auto-enhanced score is low, you’ll have to pay a higher interest rate for the auto loan. Or in the unfortunate circumstance, get declined for the loan altogether.

Here are a few tips on increasing your credit score:

  1. Pay your bills on time.
  2. Do not apply for credit frequently.
  3. Reduce your credit card balances.
  4. Have some credit. (Having no or limited credit history will result in a lower score.)

To get all three credit reports for free, simply go to:

Until next time,

Amber Lancaster

Senior Research Manager