This ad is for Experian's "Credit Tracker," a program that allows consumers to know their credit score. This is helpful info when it comes to getting a loan, but your credit score has nothing to do with getting discounts on things like floor mats, leather seats, or a stupid house plant.

I can appreciate Experian wanting to empower consumers with knowledge so they can apply for the best rates. However, they are sending the wrong message here. The only thing your credit score does is qualify you for better loans at a lower rate. Dealerships don't negotiate your car based on your FICO score.

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Despite Experian's best efforts to give you some "credit swagger," it is kind of messed up that your credit worthiness is in the hands of three private organizations with no oversight that can sometimes arbitrarily determine your level of "debt responsibility." Cancel a credit card because you weren't using it? Your score just dropped. Did you co-sign student loans for your kids college? Your debt-to-income ratio is now working against you, regardless of how many bills you have paid on time. Have you been doing the "responsible" thing only and paying cash for items you can afford? Guess what, that lack of debt is going to bite you in the ass when it comes to getting a loan or lease.

Unfortunately, unless we have a crap load of money just sitting in the bank, the credit game is something we all have to play. Play it smart and you get good loans at low rates, but fall on hard times, miss a few payments and it might be years before you dig out of that hole.

If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com and be sure to include your Kinja handle.

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