Your Car Reveals Your Credit Score

It seems obvious. If you drive an expensive car, you must have an excellent credit score – but that's not always the case.

Credit scores are calculated from factors in your credit report, including on-time payment history and how much of your available credit you use. You could be a Lamborghini driver who is drowning in debt and regularly misses payments on items other than your beloved car. You could also own a Lamborghini because you've saved money for years, have no other debts, and used credit properly to enable your dream car purchase.

How do drivers' credit scores correlate to the model of car that they drive? LendingTree data from used auto loan applications tend to follow the stereotype, but there are significant differences.

Tesla drivers have the highest credit scores, with an average of 740 on the 300-850 scale – just breaking into the very good credit range (740-799). Used Teslas have the highest average value ($54,234) of the models studied, but Tesla drivers generally have a higher income. They can afford higher payments.

Porsche drivers had the second highest average credit score (727), while Lexus drivers came in third at 699. Volvo drivers and Audi drivers followed with average credit scores of 698 and 697 respectively. Land Rover (695), Subaru (691), Mazda (690), Jaguar (687), Acura (686), and BMW (686) round out the top ten.

Overall, drivers of 22 of the thirty models studied fell into the good credit range (670-739).

Several luxury auto brands missed the top ten, including Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Infiniti, and Lincoln. Drivers of Fords, Hondas, and Toyotas all had higher average credit scores than those four brands.

Kia has a reputation as a low-cost alternative and those drivers do have a low average credit score of 659 – but they don't have the lowest. Chrysler drivers claim the lowest average score (656). Nissan drivers have the third lowest average credit score (665), with Mini and Buick slightly better (666 and 667 respectively). All fall into the fair credit score range (580-669).

Mini drivers show an interesting contrast. They are the third most likely to be able to afford their cars, with estimated monthly payments averaging only 5.7% of income – second only to Porsche drivers (5%) and Tesla drivers (4.6%). That's because used Minis average $17,728, the sixth-least expensive model. Mini drivers counteract a poorer credit score by accepting a less expensive ride.

By contrast, used Chryslers average $18,497 and those buyers average 10.9% of their income to make their monthly payments – tied for the largest percentage.

Regardless of the car you want to buy, you should get your credit in tip-top shape before you start your search. Check your credit score and credit report for anything that could drag down your score. Let MoneyTips protect your credit and your identity with a free trial.

If your credit score is error-free but low, review your report for the underlying reasons. Have you missed payments in the past? Make all payments on time in the future to slowly bring your score back up. Are you approaching your credit card limits? Pay your balances down before you take on any new ones.

A realistic budget is key. Review your budget and look for areas to control your spending. Would you sacrifice some discretionary spending today for a better credit score in the future?

By raising your credit score, you'll receive better auto loan offers and qualify for loans on a broader variety of cars. You may not qualify for a Lamborghini or a Tesla, but why let a credit score limit your options at all?

Each credit reporting agency produces its own report, so your three reports might not contain all the same information. Therefore, it's important to obtain a copy of each and review it on a regular basis. Join MoneyTips to see your three credit reports today.

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