Getting Pre-Qualified: Shop with Personalized Financing Terms

Woman sits by window whith a cup of tea in her hand, phone in the other and laptop as she shops online for a used car

Save time and shop with your budget in mind.

Figuring out what you can afford is a huge part of deciding on your next vehicle. At CarMax, you can get personalized, up front financing terms that won’t impact your credit score which can help save you time searching with your budget in mind. Want to learn more about pre-qualification and how it works at CarMax? We cover what it is, how it can help you shop smarter, and how our process works—beginning to end.

What is a pre-qualification and how does it make car shopping easier?

With pre-qualification, a finance company typically reviews your current financial situation and credit history and makes a preliminary decision on whether you could be approved for financing and the terms you could receive. A pre-qualification request usually will result in a soft credit inquiry, meaning it won't impact your credit score.

Getting pre-qualified makes car shopping easier because it gives you personalized financing terms to help you shop with your budget in mind. You can try to guess your monthly payments and vehicle budget through online financing calculators, but the results you get aren’t reviewed by a finance company. Once you’re pre-qualified, you can shop with the peace-of-mind knowing that you’re looking for vehicles you can actually afford—which saves you valuable time while you’re shopping and searching.

When you pre-qualify with CarMax, you’re getting terms that are customized for you. That’s because CarMax’s finance companies review the information you provide and your credit history to deliver personalized financing terms that you can shop with—all with no impact to your credit score.

If you’re not sure what car you want yet, shopping with a pre-qualification on makes it easy to compare car features, monthly payments, and APRs all in one place. You can see personalized financing terms on CarMax’s inventory and can even adjust filters like your down payment to see how it impacts your terms.

If you have a specific vehicle in mind, getting pre-qualified lets you make sure the vehicle fits in your budget before submitting a credit application, which will result in a hard credit inquiry (and may affect your credit score).

Hand holding mobile shopping on infographic reads green banner idicates vehicles you are pre-qualified for. Yellow banner indicates vehicles that also fall within your budget, but require an additional down payment
Shopping with a vehicle pre-qualification on lets you search for vehicles that fit your needs. The colored banners quickly help you understand which ones best match your financing terms.

How do I get pre-qualified with CarMax?

You can get pre-qualified online with CarMax in as little as 5 minutes, and your terms are available for 30 days. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your personal information (including your name, email, phone number, address, date of birth, and social security number)

  • Your housing information (move-in date, housing status, and monthly payment)

  • Your current employment status and income

Click here to create a account and get pre-qualified today.

I don’t have a specific car I want to buy yet…

If you don’t have a specific vehicle in mind yet, you can still submit a pre-qualification request with CarMax to find out whether you can get pre-qualified and your pre-qualification budget. You can find this link on the Finance page on

I have a specific car I want to purchase…

If you do have a vehicle you’re interested in, you can request pre-qualification on that vehicle. Simply go to the page of the vehicle you’re interested in on and click the “get pre-qualified" button.

Once you’re pre-qualified, you can shop with your personalized terms on CarMax’s inventory to find a vehicle you love that is within your budget. Once you’re ready to purchase, you can move forward with submitting a credit application, which includes a hard credit inquiry, to get your final offer terms on that vehicle.

What is the difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval?

While you may see companies use these terms interchangeably, there is one significant difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval. Typically, a pre-qualification will result in a soft credit inquiry that won’t impact your credit score, while a pre-approval will result in a hard credit inquiry that can impact your credit score.

In most instances—whether you're pre-qualified or pre-approved—once you’re ready to buy, you’ll still have to submit a credit application to get final offer terms. A credit application will result in a hard inquiry, which may impact your credit score.

With CarMax, you can get pre-qualified and shop with your personalized finance terms, but to finance your purchase you must submit a credit application to finance your vehicle purchase.

Learn more about how pre-qualification works at CarMax.

Shop for your next vehicle with personalized financing terms.

For more financing tips, read more financing articles or visit our finance landing page.

Terms and conditions apply. Pre-qualification terms are estimated. Final terms on a vehicle require a credit application, which may impact your credit. Learn more at
We hope you found this information helpful. This content is intended to inform and is not meant to provide legal, financial or investment advice. We make every effort to provide accurate information, but please verify before transacting and consider talking to a qualified professional about your unique circumstances.
* Price excludes taxes, title, registration, and fees. Applicable transfer fees are due in advance of vehicle delivery and are separate from sales transactions.

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