Why Is the Credit Score That My Car Dealer Pulled Different From the Score I Pulled?

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A credit score is a measure of creditworthiness banks and lending organizations use to make loan approval decisions. This three-digit number, also known by names such as FICO score and credit rating, can determine whether you get access to an automotive loan, mortgage, credit card or other type of credit. You can have different credit scores in some cases.

Why Credit Scores Differ

  • The three major credit bureaus use the Minnesota-based Fair Isaac's computer credit scoring algorithm to calculate your credit score, which can range from 300 to 850. Specifically, the algorithm uses your credit report's information to determine your rating, assigning points for a good payment record, low-balance credit cards, many types of credit and loans and a long credit history; taking points away for repossessions, charge-offs, high-balance credit cards, foreclosures, missed bill payments, collections and bankruptcies. Your creditors may not report information to all three credit bureaus at once, meaning that each bureau will have slightly different information from which to devise a credit score. This means that your score will vary slightly depending on the bureau from which you pull.

Different Credit Bureau

  • The reason the car dealer's version of your credit score was different than your own is that it pulled the score from a different credit bureau than you did. Typically, this happens because a certain dealer has an agreement with one specific credit bureau and always pulls potential buyers' credit scores from that bureau.

Educational Credit Scores

  • Another reason why your car dealer's version of your credit score differs from your own is that you could have pulled what credit bureaus call an "educational score," which is a rough estimate of your FICO score based on a non-Fair Isaac algorithm, according to Gregory Karp, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. An educational score has no relation to your real FICO ratings and will often differ significantly from your actual credit scores.

Dealer Used Different Scoring Model

  • Another reason why your car dealer's version of your credit score is different from yours is that it may have pulled from a model other than the commonly used FICO model. One of the most common non-FICO score lenders use is the VantageScore, a risk-based model that rates your credit on a scale of 510 to 990. This score also assigns you a grade based on your credit, from A to F.

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