Why Is Dealership Checking My Credit When I'm Paying In Full?

Brad and his wife drove a few hours to a car dealership, planning to pay cash for a new vehicle. Well, not cash exactly: they were putting part of the balance on a credit card (for airline miles or other rewards, we’re guessing) and had a cashier’s check for the rest. The dealer agreed to this deal over e-mail and over the phone. Then, when they reached the dealership, they were handed a credit application to fill out. Wait, why did they need their credit checked when payment in full was sitting right there in their hands?

My wife and I negotiated a cash price for a Prius C with a [redacted]
area dealer. We agreed on the price and the method of payment a
cashiers check for $17399.20 and $5000.00 on a credit card. The
amounts and method of payment were confirmed via email and verbally
via phone.

After traveling 2 hours to the dealership with check in hand we were
told we had to fill out the “application” to start the transaction. My
wife was presented with a form that clearly was labelled “Credit
Application”. We stated that we did not wish credit and wanted to
proceed with the cash transaction agreed upon. We were then told that
the form clearly labeled “Credit Application” was not really a credit
application, and everyone who buys a car at any dealership needs to
fill out the form, even on cash deals. They stated that the form was
necessary to complete the transaction.

We suspected that they were lying to us and wanted to run a credit
check and then try to convince us to use dealer financing, and left
the dealership.

Sometimes that’s the case. Sometimes a dealership just wants to see your credit report before letting you drive off with the car, especially when paying with a personal check as opposed to a cashier’s check or some other bank-verified form of payment.