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Which Credit Bureau Is Used Most for Auto Loans?

Which Credit Bureau Is Used Most for Auto Loans?; Which credit bureau is the one most used for auto loans? Learn the answer and more about credit and auto loans from Lantern by SoFi.
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated March 10, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are the three major credit reporting bureaus that sell credit report data to auto lenders and dealers. Your credit score has a major impact on what kind of loan auto lenders will offer you.Auto lenders may rely more on Equifax and Experian for credit report insights, but TransUnion also sells consumer data to a number of automotive lenders. Credit scoring models such as FICO® Auto Score 9 generate a credit score based on the debt and payment information in a consumer’s credit report.Some lenders may offer subprime auto loans based on a borrower’s FICO Score or VantageScore® 4.0. Below we highlight the most common credit scoring models used in auto lending.

What Is a Credit Bureau?

At the most basic level, credit bureaus are companies that collect data from financial lenders and creditors. They compile this data into your credit history and provide that information to potential lenders in the form of a credit report. This information typically includes factors like how much debt you currently owe and whether or not you have a history of making on-time payments.There are three nationwide credit reporting bureaus in the United States: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Despite a common misconception, the credit bureaus, also known as credit reporting agencies, do not make lending decisions themselves. Rather, lenders use the reports provided by the credit bureaus to determine your creditworthiness, and each may have its own criteria for deciding when to approve or deny a loan.The bureaus also give you the chance to look at your own report so you can understand your credit and correct any errors. You can request a free credit report from each bureau at least once per year.

Do Credit Scores Differ Between Credit Bureaus?

Your credit score may differ from bureau to bureau. That’s because it’s up to lenders and creditors to decide which information they report and who they report it to. While most lenders will report to all three credit bureaus, they aren’t required to and not everyone will.When you apply for a new loan or new revolving credit, your lender may perform a credit check, usually with just one of the main credit bureaus. Credit inquiries like these are recorded in your credit report and can lower your credit score in the short term. However, they may only show up with the bureau the lender used for the hard credit check. This can be another source of discrepancy between different credit scores.Your score is based on your credit history as compiled by the three major credit reporting bureaus. Each credit bureau will also have a slightly different credit scoring system, and those methodologies change over time as the bureaus try to make their scores more accurate. Multiple credit scoring models exist, but the credit scores auto lenders use most when making lending decisions are base or industry-specific FICO Scores.

Which Credit Bureaus Are Used Most for Auto Loans?

Equifax and Experian are the most commonly used credit bureaus by auto lenders. They offer services that are directed specifically at the auto industry, and each gets a portion of their revenue from the industry.Though perhaps not as popular, TransUnion may also be used by auto lenders when they’re making their loan decisions.Ultimately, it may not matter much which score your auto lender uses. Generally speaking, your credit report and score will be very similar no matter which bureau they go to.However, if one of your credit reports is frozen — perhaps you’ve experienced identity theft recently and wish to prevent fraudsters from opening accounts in your name — it can be useful to find out which report your dealer uses. That way you can unfreeze your report if the dealer needs to see it.

Why Is Your FICO Score Important?

Auto lenders may use your FICO Score, which is generated by the Fair Isaac Corporation, when making loan decisions. FICO gathers data from each of the major credit reporting bureaus to create a base FICO Score from 300 to 850, which is widely used by many lenders. Auto lenders may also rely on industry-specific FICO Auto Scores ranging from 250 to 900 or VantageScore credit scores ranging from 300 to 850 when making loan decisions.No matter which credit scoring model is used, your credit score is generally a numerical representation of your credit history. The higher your score, the more likely creditors are to offer you a new loan or a refinance with favorable terms, interest rate, and costs. (Learn more about auto loan terminology.)A lower interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. A “good” base FICO Score or industry-specific FICO Auto Score is generally considered to be in the 670–739 range (740 to 799 is ‘very good,’ and above that is ‘exceptional’). A poor score is anything less than 580.Here are some factors to consider:Recommended: What Credit Score Do You Need to Refinance a Car?

What Is the Difference Between Your FICO Score and Other Credit Scores?

Theoretically, your FICO Score and your other credit scores could be the same, but they aren’t always.Your FICO Score is based on a credit scoring model developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation, whereas your VantageScore is based on a credit scoring model developed by VantageScore Solutions LLC. Multiple credit scoring models exist under the FICO and VantageScore brand names, and each model uses unique algorithms for generating credit scores.The three major credit bureaus founded VantageScore in 2006 and have their own proprietary scoring systems predating VantageScore. As mentioned earlier, your credit score is generally a numerical representation of your credit history. FICO offers many different scores, including score models that work with each reporting bureau’s database.Equifax provides generic credit scores ranging from 280 to 850 for educational purposes, not for creditors to assess a consumer’s creditworthiness. Lenders generally rely on FICO or VantageScore when making credit decisions, and lenders are free to choose whose score they want to use.

How Can You Build Your Credit History?

You may build your credit history by applying for consumer loans and making payments as necessary. When you get an auto loan, for example, the lender may report the status of your auto loan to at least one of the major credit bureaus each month.Lenders are not required to report a customer’s loan account details to any of the credit bureaus, but many of them do so voluntarily. Getting approved for credit and maintaining open credit accounts over time can build your credit history.Any active loan accounts in your name may appear on your credit report. A closed credit account may eventually get removed from your credit report within 10 years.

The Takeaway

Equifax and Experian are the credit bureaus most commonly used by auto lenders. Yet, it ultimately may not make that much difference which bureau your auto lender uses.As a consumer, it may be more important for you to make sure your credit is as healthy as possible by paying off debt and making payments on time. That way, no matter what bureau a lender uses, you’ll have the best chance to get an auto loan or a refinance car loan that works for you.Compare auto loan refinance rates with Lantern by SoFi.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a credit bureau?
What is the difference between credit bureaus?
Why are there multiple credit bureaus?
Which credit bureaus are used the most for car loans?

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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