Filling out an application on Auto Credit Express will not affect your credit score, but it will take a slight hit if you pre-qualify for a loan and we forward it to a dealer.

Loan applications and Your Credit Score

At Auto Credit Express, we pre-qualify thousands of loan applications every month. We also field hundreds of inquiries from people who wonder how the process works. Here are a couple of them:

credit score

Applicant #1: I have a low credit score and wanted to get an auto loan. Is this possible with a down payment? I don't want to go through the application because I don't want to have my score decreased.

Applicant #2: If I see that I pre-qualify for an auto loan or lease, is this a hard hit inquiry on my credit?

Pre-qualify screening

In order to answer the questions from both consumers, we need to explain how Auto Credit Express processes applications.

In the case of applicant #1:

  • We can't answer this question because Auto Credit Express is not a lender.
  • Secondly, a lender can only answer this question after they have viewed that person's credit report.
  • Finally, the lender can only view that credit report if this individual submits an application to us, we pre-qualify it and forward it to a dealer, that dealer interviews the applicant and subsequently forwards the application to a lender.

This brings us to applicant #2's question, which has to be answered in 2 parts:

When you send us your application, we pre-qualify you. This means we look at your income to see if it's sufficient and if it meets lender guidelines for source – that is, W-2 wages (other types of income can help qualify you, but at least some W-2 income is typically required, although that's for another article). We also check to see how long you've been employed and how long you've lived at your current residence. None of this triggers a hard inquiry on your credit report.

Filling out an application on our site, however, does give us permission to forward it to a dealership in our network that's a reasonable distance from where you live. It also gives that dealership permission to pull your credit file and view your credit score, possibly before you go in for an interview, in order to further qualify you and/or determine which of their lenders they should send it to. So, in most cases it's true. Pre-qualifying for an auto loan or lease usually does lead to a hard inquiry on an applicant's credit file.

The Bottom Line

In order to determine if you qualify for an auto loan, a lender has to pull your credit report, which will result in a slight decrease in your credit score. In addition, if you fill out an application on the Auto Credit Express website and pre-qualify for an auto loan, chances are that will also result in a hard inquiry on your credit file as well as a slight decrease in your credit score.

One more thing: Here at Auto Credit Express, we've spent the past two decades helping thousands of credit-challenged people rebuild their credit while driving a reliable new or used car. So if you really need a car and you're wondering if you qualify for a loan, we suggest that you fill out our online application. It's that easy.