Let’s talk about credit inquiries. There are two ways that potential creditors go about checking your credit (“pulling your credit”): hard inquiries and soft inquiries. What are the differences? And how does each type of inquiry affect your credit? We’ll explain it all:

What is a soft inquiry (“soft pull”)?

A soft inquiry is when an institution or an individual checks your credit. Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score. Examples of soft inquiries include: reviewing your own credit, employment verification, applying to rent an apartment, “pre-qualified” credit card and insurance quotes, lenders or brokers doing pre-approval, utility and mobile phone providers, and applying for loan rates and offers.

What is a hard inquiry (“hard pull”)?

A hard inquiry is an inquiry that you’ve consented to. Hard inquiries may include when you apply for credit, a mortgage, or when finalizing a loan. Hard inquiries can influence your credit score, but the effect is minimal and unlikely to affect whether or not you are usually approved. Hard inquiries aren’t so bad but avoid applying for many credit cards within a small time frame. These multiple inquiries can make lenders cautious to work with you. Instead, trying spacing out credit applications.

Unauthorized hard credit inquiries

It’s essential to check your credit report regularly. Look out for hard inquiries that you did not consent to because they can be a sign of identity theft. Any unapproved inquiries should be disputed as soon as possible.

Hard inquiries you have consented to cannot be disputed. These authorized hard inquiries take about two years to disappear from your credit report. However, if you’re shopping for rates for mortgages, auto loans, or student loans, all of the inquiries that are made within 45 days will be considered a single inquiry on your credit report.

A final word

Soft inquiries are nothing to worry about, but you should be careful when allowing hard inquiries to be made. While a hard inquiry may only shave a few points off your credit score, too many inquiries could start to influence your credit score negatively and affect your financial well-being.

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