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I went to a dealership today and they pulled my credit after a test drive. I've heard that as long as you get your credit pulled for an auto loan within a few days, multiple pulls will only count as one. Well the salesman really wanted to keep me from leaving and when they finally realized that I still wanted to shop around, he told me he doesn't recommend me letting anyone else pull my credit.

Is his advice valid? Should I worry about having my credit pulled multiple times?

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    Did you sign a form allowing him to pull the report? Did you already start negotiating a purchase price? – JoeTaxpayer Jun 11 at 9:05
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    Is this US? Please add the tag. – Jan Doggen Jun 11 at 10:24
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    You've already received several good answers - I would just add, it makes good sense to obtain your credit report via free services that don't ding your score (i.e. creditkarma) and use the info on it to get a good idea for what sort of loan you can be approved for. Then, don't let a dealer or bank actually pull your score for real until you've done your test drives and shopped and you're ready to make a purchase. Letting a dealer pull it "just to see" is yet another trick they'll use to make you feel committed to them vs going somewhere else. – dwizum Jun 11 at 14:41
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    Also, if you might want to look into securing an auto loan through a bank or credit union, rather than a dealership. Car salesmen have all sorts of tricks and if you are buying with cash (which is basically what you're doing if you're financed elsewhere) you take one of their tricks from them. Also, don't fall for "cashback" or any of that crap... they're basically increasing the loan and then charging you interest on that additional money. Do whatever you can to get financing from some other source than a dealership. – Dancrumb Jun 12 at 0:17
  • If you are having your credit pulled when shopping for a car, then you should be concerned that you are buying a car that you cannot afford. – Glen Yates Jun 13 at 18:09
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The salesman is lying to you. His goal is to prevent you from walking away. No lie and trick are too grave if they help him achieve that, as far as he is concerned. He does not care the least bit about your credit score. He cares a lot about wasting as much of your time as possible, so that it becomes more difficult for you to walk away.

The power to walk away (and shop elsewhere, or come back later) is the biggest trump card you have in this process. To trick you not to use it is the salesman's motive. It really is as simple as that.

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    There is a small but non zero chance that he doesn't understand the system well and is trying to help. If the OP hadn't mentioned it was parceled with "high pressure sales" but who knows... – rogerdpack Jun 12 at 20:22
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If you are in the US, you're correct that most FICO scoring models will collapse multiple car loan inquiries into a single one (and I believe it's within 45 days for newer models and between 14-30 days for older models). But now that you know your scores and have a copy of your credit report (because the dealer should have given it to you, and if not you have the right to go back and ask them to print it out for you), you could bring that to other dealers and most should be able to price out loans for you before actually checking your credit. You'll only need to actually pull it again when you decide to buy. But again, even if you let multiple dealers pull it, it shouldn't negatively affect your score beyond the initial hit.

The salesperson said what he did because he thought it would increase the chances that you would buy from him instead of someone else.

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    Wait, does this mean that in the US, having your credit score checked by someone negatively affects your credit score? I'm baffled by that... Why is that so? – marcelm Jun 11 at 22:32
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    @marcelm because, in theory, applying for credit means you need to borrow a large sum of money, which means you are considering taking on more financial risk. – Brandon Jun 11 at 22:39
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    @marcelm It's the same in the UK. If you've applied for credit multiple times recently (e.g. lots of credit card applications), it's a massive red flag (perhaps you're being declined? Or gathering as much credit as possible?), hence the credit score hit. – JakeSteam Jun 12 at 7:48
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    @marcelm - to be precise, when a credit score is pulled, the entity pulling it basically does so with an indicator of why they're pulling it. So-called "hard pulls" are used when the consumer is actually trying to obtain credit (i.e. take out a loan). Those have an impact as others have explained. A so-called "soft pull" can be done for informational purposes, product marketing, etc and has zero affect on your score. The credit bureaus manage these differences via licensing terms with the entity doing the pull, so the impact can be tied to the purpose even though the info received is the same. – dwizum Jun 12 at 13:12
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    @marcelm - here's some research I did previously regarding the impact on various scores: money.stackexchange.com/a/77630/17718 – TTT Jun 12 at 14:32
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He's trying to scare you into thinking doing another search will negatively impact your loan rates / credit score.

If you believe that then you are more likely to buy from the place that has already retrieved your credit worthiness.

He's just trying to scare into buying from that dealer. In my opinion that's a good enough to NOT buy from that dealer. If he's willing to try and scare you into buying like this, good luck trying to get any defects sorted after purchase.

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    ... and once you have bought from another dealer, write to the original dealership explaining why you have declined to do business with them. – Martin Bonner Jun 11 at 10:13
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    The dealer may not care. A lost sale is a lost sale, and the lesson they may take from this is that their salesman didn't scare you enough. – chepner Jun 11 at 12:36
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    If dealerships cared about unethical car salesmen, they wouldn't employ that exact type of person without fail. – Adonalsium Jun 11 at 18:20
  • @chepner well, otherwise he might have come back. This way he shouldn't. But you are right that they might not see it that way. Then again, most car dealerships I know seem very badly structured, i.e. the individual dealers know their tricks, but there is barely any central organisation that tells them how to do their job (for used cars) - other than which model to sell and which top arguments they can use and what "special price reductions" are allowed (for new cars). But your mileage may differ. – Frank Hopkins Jun 11 at 19:35
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    @Adonalsium It's entirely possible they don't realize the type of liar he is. Scumbags have first days, too, and it's easy to gloss over "I lied to customers to scare them into buying cars" when the interviewer only thinks to ask "how many cars did you sell". – Nic Hartley Jun 11 at 19:51
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I see a number of people stating that it absolutely will not show up as separate inquiries on your credit report if the hard inquiries are within a certain time period. I have had a much different experience when having a credit check done for a used car dealership. I went to a single dealership and applied for credit. That dealership worked with a network of banks to finance their car loans (I'm assuming they each had different standards for disbursing loans). The following month after my loan application, I saw 7 hard inquiries within a week on my credit report (all related to the banking network working with the dealership). These inquiries were not reduced down to a single inquiry and my credit was impacted by the number of inquiries in such a short time. There may be a chance that the dealer you went to uses a similar system for financing loans and knew that it would show up as multiple inquiries on your credit report. I recommend doing as another user stated and use the credit report done by the initial dealer to at least get rough pricing estimates from other dealers.

  • This is either a failure in the credit bureau's data processing, or the dealer and/or bank(s) doing something very unusual or unethical. It's definitely not standard practice for indirect lending and even if it was, current versions of FICO and VantageScore would both collapse multiple pulls within a week. – dwizum Jun 13 at 13:58
  • @dwizum Thanks for your insight, I never ended up going with them for financing and ended up having my dad cover it while I pay him back over time. This was about a year ago when all of this occurred and the inquiries are still shown on my account. Hoping they will go away soon as I haven't had any hard inquiries since then. – Matt Jun 13 at 18:02
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You can always do a soft credit check. Credit Karma, for instance, will monitor 3 credit scores for you and you can check it daily. It is not a hard hit and does not affect your score. It also shows you events that impact the score, allowing you to monitor and possibly correct the score. This could save you a lot of money down the road.

If there is a 'hard check' for a loan (of any kind), I would refuse to allow the hard check unless a copy is given to you. I did this when purchasing a house. The first finance officer that wanted to pull the credit - I required to give me a copy. Then I provided that report to another finance officer to get a competitive bid and make sure nobody was taking advantage of me. Yes a hard check will impact your score - but it isn't necessarily a significant impact, and any finance company knows why that check is being made. This is much different than delinquent bills, carrying too high of a credit balance, or having no credit history. I honestly wouldn't even worry about it.

You will lose more money making a bad deal than you will by having your credit checked a few times.

  • +1 for the last line, lets not forget the higher purpose! – Dennis Jaheruddin Jun 13 at 13:20

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