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What's the difference between a soft credit search and applying for vehicle finance?

What's the difference between a soft credit search and applying for vehicle finance?

Soft search vs applying for vehicle finance: What's the difference? 

Are you keen to get behind the wheel of your next vehicle, but concerned about the effect on your credit score when your eligibility for car or van finance is checked?

Buying your next car or van is a big financial commitment and establishing the impact that this purchase could have on your purse strings is an important step. But don't worry, many buyers are concerned about the potential impact of a finance check on their credit scores, and that's where a 'soft search' comes in.

'Soft search' is a credit solution that enables lenders to assess your eligibility for car or van finance without delving into a full credit check and or affecting your credit rating.

Let's explore the 'soft search' concept in more detail, explaining the difference between this method and a full application for car finance and showcasing the Carbase | Vanbase approach.

What is 'soft credit search'?

A soft credit search is a method used by lenders or brokers to gain an indication as to whether you are suitable for finance at application stage - without causing disruption or a negative impact on your credit score. 

A snapshot of your credit report, a soft search avoids having full credit searches carried out but provides lenders with vital information which indicates whether or not you're likely to be approved for credit.

Car finance or van finance, in comparison, involves the completion of a full application and credit check.

'Soft search' and your credit rating

If you have previous applications recorded on your file, particularly if they were cancelled or unsuccessful, you could find that these lower your credit rating and have a negative impact on your credit score.

A 'soft credit search' allows lenders to examine the important details of your creditworthiness and use this information without leaving any trace of this search being conducted.

Is a soft search a guarantee of credit?

No. While soft searches don't affect your credit rating and are hugely beneficial, it's important to understand that they're not a guarantee you'll receive the finance option you have applied for, even if you're given a good chance of being approved.

Soft search and applying for car finance

Soft credit searches aren't the same as being approved for car finance. Numerous lenders do have free checks for car finance on offer, with a 'soft search' then being carried out to give an indication as to whether you will be successful.

Pre-approval and applying for car finance, in contrast, involves the completion of a full application and any offer received will give you the finance you require to secure your next used car. Read our blog about getting pre-approved for car finance at Carbase

The benefits of a soft credit search

A 'soft search' boasts several benefits for a lender and customer alike, including:

  • It is a strong indicator as to how successful you would be if you had a full finance check carried out.
  • A soft search isn't documented as a full credit check - and enables lenders to access a trusted snapshot into your creditworthiness without leaving a trace on your credit score.
  • Soft search allows customers and lenders to shop around for several finance options before making a final decision.
  • It generally doesn't take long to carry out a soft search.

The vast array of benefits of 'soft search' have led us here at Carbase | Vanbase to adopt the same approach for our valued customers.  

Soft search and used car finance: the Carbase | Vanbase way

When it comes to applying for finance, here at Carbase | Vanbase, we pride ourselves on a customer-focused approach where trust, transparency and fairness are paramount. 

Our team of experts locate the best finance options, cut through the jargon and make our used finance deals easy to understand and quick to apply for.

Our very own online Free Car Finance Check works in a similar way to a 'soft search', enabling customers to receive a decision in minutes. It indicates the likelihood that you would be approved for the finance deal in question, whilst keeping your credit rating fully protected at all times.

Car and van finance advice from the experts



If you are looking for further information on pre-approval, 'soft search' or any aspect of car finance or van finance advice, our team of experts are ready and waiting in your nearest Carbase store or Vanbase Store, simply visit us in person and our team will be more than happy to help.

Get pre-approved online, before you come in-store

You can apply for finance here at Carbase | Vanbase in five simple steps:
  1. Pick your used car from our fantastic range of used cars and used vans.
  2. Set up a secure, personal account with
  3. Manage your car finance application.
  4. Submit your finance application - receive a definitive answer within 60 minutes when our stores are open.
  5. Come and see us and take your new used car for a spin.

Discover more about how to get approved for car finance here.

Find out more  

If you would like to find out more about the 'soft search' method or any element of the application process here at Carbase | Vanbase, contact us today. Our team of experts are more than happy to discuss your options and help you be one step closer to driving away in the car or van of your dreams. 


Sub-prime finance is not guaranteed and may cost more than finance provided by a prime lender. We will try to obtain finance for you but there is no guarantee. It may be from a sub-prime lender, and if so, the cost of finance may likely be at a higher rate than prime lenders offer.


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