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We recently called to get pre-approval for home loans. USAA insisted on running our credit reports even though we were only shopping around for rates. They do not have any other way to get pre-approval without taking a hard hit on the credit report even though "everything is currently financed through them and all income is direct deposited to USAA". It makes no sense to take credit score hit when we're not set on buying vs. renting or even using USAA as a lender. USAA has lost there business model

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Pre-approvals require a credit check to determine what rate you would get, whereas, a pre-qualification would use information you provide to give you an idea what rate you might be able to get.   Here is a good link that discusses the difference:  http://www.investopedia.com/articles/basics/07/prequalified-approved.asp