Getting pre-approved for an SCCU auto loan does affect your credit score. Here’s why: Lenders can make what’s referred to as a “hard” credit inquiry or a “soft” one. Hard credit inquiries are done when a formal application for credit has been made with a credit union, auto dealer, bank, or other type of lender. The lender will contact one or more of the credit bureaus to get your score and your credit report, and such contacts are tracked by the credit bureaus. Although there are exceptions, a high number of these inquiries on your record may be taken as a negative sign, which can lower your credit score. A soft inquiry, on the other hand, is made by a lender that’s checking your credit before the formal loan process is executed. Our process for a pre-approved car loan is an example of a hard inquiry, and it’s done to gauge how likely a prospective buyer is to qualify for a loan.