Financing a car purchase? Your credit score may seem higher than you thought

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You may not realize that when you take out an auto loan, your FICO Auto Score is used. This gives a little more weight to your history of auto loans and leases, as well as other installment loans.

Auto dealer inventories remain tight, but buyers are undeterred, with sales of new and used vehicles at record highs. Many buyers finance their purchase, which requires a credit check.

The standard FICO score ranges from 300 to 850. But for auto loans, lenders use the FICO Auto Score instead. The automatic score ranges from 250 to 900.

“It’s the same fundamentals, like paying your bills on time and keeping your debt down and that sort of thing. But for something like the FICO Auto Score, they’re going to put a little more weight on your history of auto loans and leases, as well as other installment loans,” said Ted Rossman of CreditCards.com.

There is a FICO credit card score that weighs more heavily on credit card behaviors. FICO is the main provider of consumer credit scoring, but there are half a dozen different versions of FICO scores that lenders use for different types of loans. Although FICO is the most widely used, Bankrate says there are dozens of other credit scoring providers.

For good credit, consumers should strive to maintain their FICO score at 670 or higher. The standard FICO score ranges from 300 to 850, although most consumers don’t have credit scores above 800.

“Only about 20%, or about one in five Americans, are part of this club of more than 800 people. For the most part though, on the traditional score, anything above 740 is really considered basically interchangeable. It’s really just bragging rights above that,” Rossman said.

According to LendingTree, the average monthly payment on a car loan is now at an all-time high of $563 for new vehicles, $379 for used vehicles and $450 for leased vehicles. Americans take out about $56 billion on 2.3 million new auto loans each month.

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