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 AnnualCreditReport.com. 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.
†We offer personal loans from $1,000 to $25,000, with loans terms from 12 to 60 months. Minimum and maximum amounts dependent on an applicant’s state of residence and the underwriting of the loan. Loans between $1,500 and $15,000 may be funded online. Loans greater than $15,000 or less than $1,500 are funded through our branch network. Specific interest rates and fees are determined as permitted under applicable state law and depend upon loan amount, term, and the applicant’s ability to meet our credit criteria, including, but not limited to, credit history, income, debt payment obligations, and other factors such as availability of collateral. Not all rates and loan amounts are available in all states. Additional fees may apply to some loan offers; some state required and/or permitted fees may be treated as prepaid finance charges. Any such charges shall be in addition to the loan amount requested and/or approved and shall be fully disclosed to the applicant on his/her loan agreement. Not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rates or larger loan amounts, which may require a first lien on a motor vehicle not more than ten years old titled in the applicant’s name with valid insurance. Our loan by phone and online closing process requires a compatible mobile or computer device on which you can access your email and electronic documents. Not all loan types are eligible for loan by phone or online loan closing.
To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. As a result, under our customer identification program, we must ask for your name, street address, mailing address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver's license or other identifying documents.
*The process uses a “soft” credit inquiry to determine whether a loan offer is available, which does not impact your credit score. If you continue with the application process online and accept a loan offer, or are referred to a branch and continue your application there, we will pull your credit report and credit score again using a “hard” credit inquiry. This “hard” credit inquiry may impact your credit score.