Why is my Credit Karma score different than the score car dealers see?


You may have noticed that every lender or car dealership that runs your credit seems to have a different credit score for you.  We talk to clients all the time that do not understand how different companies can pull The reason this happens is that inside each of the three main credit bureau brands (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) there are several different scoring models.

Perhaps you have heard these terms before: FICO, Beacon, Auto Enhanced…and there are more. There are even different score versions.  Your Equifax Beacon Version 5.0 Auto Enhanced score will be different than your Beacon 8.0 Auto Enhanced score. The non-Auto Enhanced version will also be different.

Why are there different scoring models? 

Each scoring version counts different types of good and bad credit differently. Then lenders use that data to weigh how each applicant will be scored for their loan.  For example, an Auto Enhanced score is supposed to better predict how well a consumer will pay an Auto Loan.  It makes sense if previous auto loan performance is given greater weight when scoring the odds of future auto loan repayment.  That is just one example.  There are more than I can possibly specify here.

Lenders usually pick a certain scoring model and stick with it for all of their applicants. That way every customer is compared on an “apples to apples” basis, because the scores are all weighed the same way.

Which credit scoring model does Credit Karma use?

Credit Karma currently uses something they call VantageScore 3.0.


This is the VantageScore 3.0 information provided on CreditKarma.com

What auto lenders use VantageScore 3.0?

None that I have found. VantageScore 3.0 seems to be designed strictly for consumers to monitor changes in their credit.

Can a lender use your VantageScore 3.0 Credit score instead of the credit score they pulled?

No. Lenders want to use the same scoring model for each applicant so that they can make decisions consistently, so you cannot use your 801 Vantage score instead of your 680 Beacon 8.0 score.   Using a different credit score to get a loan would be like using Venezuelan currency to pay your mortgage instead of US dollars.  It would be great for you, but not for the lender.

How does VantageScore 3.0 compare to credit scores that lenders use?

In my experience, the Credit Karma scores that users see are usually much higher than their “real” credit scores that lenders use.  There is nothing wrong with that, because the VantageScore 3.0 model just gives you a measurable number to keep track of.  If your VantageScore credit score goes down, your other credit score versions probably went down too. If your Credit Karma score goes up, the other scores probably went up.

The most important thing for you to remember when looking at your Credit Karma scores is that the scores you see ARE NOT your credit scores that lenders or auto dealers typically see.

If you want to get an idea of what your score is, without giving out your Social Security Number, fill out this form at Washington Auto Credit. Also, you may be given an idea as to how large of an auto loan you could be pre-approved for.

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