Does checking your credit score lower it?
What you need to know about hard and soft pulls and other determining factors.
A common misconception a lot of people have is that checking their credit score, or having a third party check it on behalf of them, is actually going to negatively affect their report by lowering their score. Even though there are a series of actions, referred to as hard pulls or hard inquiries that can affect your credit score in the long term, there are also soft pulls or soft inquiries. These soft inquiries are actions that won’t lower your credit. Here’s how to know the difference.
What’s the difference between hard vs. soft credit inquiries?
According to Credit Karma, “A hard inquiry may impact your credit scores and stay on your credit reports for about two years. By contrast, soft credit inquiries won’t affect your scores.”
Think about applying for a credit card at a major retail store. Even though you might not get approved, the simple act of filling out an application and giving them permission to check your report could hurt your credit, as they are making a hard inquiry in order to make a financial decision. Hard pulls also occur when applying for auto loans, mortgage loans, and other lender and credit card issuer actions. Even getting approved for cable or satellite service can involve a hard pull. Generally speaking, hard inquiries will stay on your credit report for about two years.
On the other hand, a soft inquiry or soft pull often involves a third party checking your credit score in order to make a decision. The difference, however, is that this will not affect your score as they are only reviewing it. This is the case, for example, when you are going through a background test by an employer or potential employer, or when a credit card company checks your score without your explicit authorization. As this doesn’t stay on your record, only you can see it and it won’t negatively affect your report or lower your score.
How do hard inquiries hurt my score?
My Fico.com explains that depending on your existing score, these hard inquiries can affect you in different ways. “Inquiries can have a greater impact if you have few accounts or a short credit history. Large numbers of inquiries also mean greater risk. Statistically, people with six inquiries or more on their credit reports can be up to eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than people with no inquiries on their reports.”
Is checking my own score a hard or soft pull?
Another concern many consumers share with us is whether checking their own credit score will affect their credit report and the answer is no. According to Credit Karma, “this is reported as a soft inquiry, so it won’t lower your scores,” they explain on their website.
Other things that can hurt your credit score
In addition to hard and soft credit inquiries, it’s important to remember that, as CreditCards.com explains on their website, there are other actions that can lower your credit score. These include:
- Payment history: Such as late and missed payments, bankruptcy and debt settlement.
- Credit utilization: Like missing payments, maxing out or canceling a credit card and not having a credit card at all.
- Length of history: This refers to how long you’ve had credit cards, missing payments or how many credit cards you have applied for.
- New credit: As we mentioned above, this is where hard inquiries or applying for too many credit cards will mostly affect you.
- Credit Mix: As hard inquiries will add up when you apply for too many credit cards.
For a deeper dive into the kinds of things you don’t want on your credit report, see our previous articles, “8 mistakes guaranteed to wreck your credit score.”
LendingPoint is a personal loan provider specializing in NearPrime consumers. Typically, NearPrime consumers are people with credit scores in the 600s. If this is you, we’d love to talk to you about how we might be able to help you meet your financial goals. We offer loans from $2,000 to $25,000, all with fixed payments and simple interest.