If you’re looking to apply for credit, you are likely to come across the term “inquiry”. There are two types of inquiries hard and soft, so it’s important to know the difference between the two, what they mean and most importantly if they will hurt your credit score.
A hard inquiry happens when you’ve applied for credit, such as a mortgage, auto loan or credit card, the lender (with your permission) will check your credit report and credit score from one or more of the major credit bureaus. Because these inquiries are tied to an actual credit application and form part of the decision-making process, they’re considered hard inquiries, and they can affect your credit score.
How hard inquiries can impact your credit score
Too many hard inquiries in a short period of time can be worrying to lenders. That’s because multiple hard inquiries may add up to numerous new accounts, and opening various new credit accounts may mean you’re having trouble paying bills or are at risk of overspending. As a result, hard inquiries have a temporary, negative affect on your credit score.
A soft inquiry takes place either when you check your own credit score through somewhere such as Monefly (via our credit data partners – Experian), or when businesses such as lenders, insurance companies, or credit card companies, check your credit to pre-approve you for offers.
Because soft inquiries aren’t linked to a specific application for new credit, they’re only visible on your credit report to you. Therefore, they won’t impact your credit score and are never considered as a factor in credit scoring models.
Managing your credit inquiries
If you are concerned about hard inquiries, you can take steps to manage their impact, including:
- Only apply for credit when you truly need it.
- If you’ll be applying for a mortgage or auto loan, be sure to do your research before applying for credit.
- Regularly check your credit report to ensure any hard inquiries that appear are ones you really initiated, and not potential signs of fraud.
- Take steps to manage other factors that are more important to your credit scores, such as your payment history and credit utilisation rate. Pay all your bills on time every month and pay off credit card debt as quickly as possible.
In summary hard inquiries can often have a negative impact on your credit score, however soft inquires don’t. In fact, regularly checking your credit score is a good practice as it gives you the opportunity to correct any mistakes that may have been made by reporting bodies or identity fraud. It also allows you to always make sure you are ready for the next time you need to apply for credit.