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Hard Inquiry vs. Soft Inquiry: How Credit Checks May Impact Your Report

Credit inquiries are an unavoidable aspect of life in America. They are necessary when you apply for credit cards or loans. You might have to submit a credit application to move into a new apartment or home.

The very mention of credit checks can make some people uncomfortable. However, they’re intimidating because there’s a lot of misinformation about them.  To know the difference between hard inquiries vs. soft inquiries, review this guide on the two types of credit checks.

What are the Differences Between Hard Inquiries and Soft Inquiries?

The primary difference between the two lies in who is checking your credit. When you apply for credit cards or loans, you’ll have a hard credit check. Conversely, you get a soft inquiry if you’re applying for a job or checking your report.

There are more subtle differences in the two types of inquiries though, including:

  • Credit impact: Your hard credit inquiries make up 10% of your credit score. While not a significant percentage, continually applying for new credit could keep your score down over time.
  • Report history: Hard inquiries can remain on your credit report for up to two years. FICO scores only consider inquiries from the last 12 months, though.
  • Risk indication: Soft credit checks occur in situations that don’t have a great credit risk, such as a preapproval for a credit card. That means they don’t impact your score. Hard inquires are required for applying for credit for mortgages, auto loans and credit cards since these are tied to actual credit applications.

There’s no hard and fast rule for how long a soft inquiry will stay on your credit report. But since it doesn’t impact your score and is only visible to you, these credit checks have no risks.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hard Inquiries and Soft Inquiries

Credit checks can be confusing because most lenders and financial institutions don’t make it clear which type of inquiry you’re signing up for. Here are some of the most asked questions about hard pulls vs. soft pulls.

Do Hard Inquiries Hurt Your Credit Score?

There are two things to consider when you’re applying for new credit. The first is that a hard credit check can drop your score, especially if you have a limited credit history. The second is that not all credit checks are treated the same.

For example, when you are rate shopping for a car loan or a mortgage, you may need to apply for credit with at least half a dozen lenders. If you apply within 14 days, these hard inquiries are generally treated as one credit check.

How Do Soft Pulls Affect Your Credit?

The good news is that a soft pull doesn’t affect your credit score. They may or may not show on your credit reports, but they are only visible to you. Other lenders or potential employers won’t have access to that information.

Does Checking Your Own Credit Lower Your Score?

No – checking your credit is a soft pull and will not affect your credit score, nor will it show on your credit report. You can pull a copy of all three major credit reports once per year from Additionally, you can check your credit score through any third-party provider without hurting your score.

Why Do Hard Inquiries Hurt Your Credit Score?

A hard inquiry is a formal application for a financial commitment, whether it’s a loan, credit card, or an apartment lease. This means there’s a change in your life, and lenders view that as a risk factor.  A hard credit check is seen as the potential to take on more debt.

How Many Points Does Your Credit Score Drop After a Hard Inquiry?

The actual number will vary depending on your credit score, the number of new credit inquiries, and your credit history. Most people see a drop in their credit score of between five and 10 points. If you have excellent credit (800 and above), you may not see that significant of a drop.

Quick Tips for Managing Credit Inquiries on Your Report

While credit inquiries only make up a small percentage of your credit score, you want to manage them so potential lenders will view your report more favorably.

Below are two ways you can ensure credit inquiries don’t create problems:

  • Review your own report: Sign up for a credit monitoring service so you can receive alerts any time there is a new credit check on your report. You can also keep an eye out for identity theft and dispute any errors as soon as you see them.
  • Apply for credit sparingly: It’s good practice to only apply for credit when you need it. It’s also a good idea to wait to apply for car loans and mortgages when you can put in all your applications within two weeks.of one another

These tips, along with making on-time payments and keeping your credit card balances low, may help keep your credit score at its best.

How the Right Financial Partner Can Help Limit Your Credit Inquiries

Applying for credit can be nerve-racking. The right financial partner can make the process a little less intimidating. They can also help you narrow down the best financial options for your situation, which can limit the credit inquiries on your report.

Looking for a lender that understands your needs? Contact Mariner Finance today for help securing a personal loan.

The information provided in this article does not constitute financial advice and is provided for educational purposes only without any express or implied warranty of any kind. This article is not intended as legal, tax, investment, or any other advice, and Mariner Finance does not offer credit repair services. Consider talking with an appropriate qualified professional for specific advice. Blog posts are for informational purposes only.