Four Myths About Your Credit Score And Auto Loans

By: Christine Harrell

When an auto loan provider pulls your credit report, the most important piece of information is your FICO credit score. The FICO score was created as an estimate of the likelihood of a borrower defaulting on a loan; the higher the score, the lower the chance of default. The specific formulas used for credit score calculation are kept secret by the credit bureaus, but the FICO concept involve factors such as the time you have had credit established, late payments, and amount of credit used vs. amount available.

Over time a lot of myths about credit score have arisen. To negotiate the best auto loan you need to be able to separate fact from fiction so you know how a lender is going to see you as a potential borrower.

Myth #1: Credit counseling hurts your score

FICO researchers found no data that suggested people seeking credit counseling were less likely to default on their car loans. No part of the FICO system references credit counseling so it will not affect your score.

Some lenders might shy away from a borrower receiving credit counseling, or might offer auto loan quotes that carry higher interest than someone with perfect credit might receive. Then again, counseling is better than ignoring your credit problems and hoping they will go away.

Myth #2: Closing accounts improves your score

This is a myth that even many lenders believe, but closing accounts actually lowers your credit score.

Closing old accounts reduces your credit history, making you appear as a new borrower. Also, part of the FICO score is the percentage of available credit you are currently using. Closing accounts reduces available credit but not current debts, so those debts are now a higher percentage of your credit limit making you appear to be living on the edge of your means.

Myth #3: Checking my credit report hurts my score

Many credit score checks by auto loan providers will hurt your score slightly. However personal checks on your own credit never hurt your score.

Even multiple credit score checks by auto loan providers won't hurt your score as much if they occur over a 14-day period. If you are shopping car loan quotes, do all your inquiries in a short time to minimize the impact on your credit score.

Myth #4: I need a big income for a good credit score

Income has absolutely no effect on credit score calculation. Credit rating is not about how much you earn but about your reliability in paying the money you owe.

An auto loan provider will consider your income to ensure that you are not buying outside your means.

Myth #5: I have only one credit score

Each of the three credit bureaus calculates their scores separately and, although they are likely to be close, they will vary from agency to agency. Check your scores from all three agencies before shopping for car loans.

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