Is Checking your Credit Score Bad?

no-credit-check

Short answer? No.

Slightly longer answer? It depends.

For the complete answer, keep reading…

There are two types of Credit Inquiries: Hard Inquiries and Soft Inquiries

And when it comes to how they affect your credit score, they’re pretty much night and day.

Hard Inquiries

Hard inquiries happen whenever you are applying for new credit, like a mortgage, credit card, or personal loan. They usually require that your authorization before the lender can pull your credit history.

Hard Inquiries are recorded on your credit report and will stay on that report for two years. Since a hard credit inquiry is an indication that you are looking for a loan, the inquiry can have a negative effect on your credit score for up to a year.

Why is that? Well, according to experts at FICO, a borrower with six or more hard credit inquiries on their report is up to eight times more likely to file for bankruptcy than someone with no inquiries.[1] Those same experts also say that a typical hard inquiry can knock up to five points off your credit score.[2]

There is an exception, however, and it’s when you have several inquiries within the same 45-day period. Since it is typical (and a good idea!) for people to “rate shop” when applying for a mortgage, auto, or student loan, the credit bureaus will bundle all these separate inquiries together. You’ll still get dinged for the hard inquiry, but you’ll only get dinged once.

A typical hard inquiry can knock up to five points off your credit score.

Soft Inquiries

There are several different situations under which a soft credit inquiry might occur. Some of the most common include looking for a new apartment, getting hired for a new job, and checking your own credit score.

Basically, soft inquiries are when anyone other than a lender is looking at your credit score. Many credit card companies will run a soft inquiry before sending you a “pre-approved” credit card offer.[3]

The great thing about soft inquiries is that they do not affect your credit score. While soft inquiries are indeed recorded on your credit report, they are only visible to you. If a lender pulls a copy of your credit report, they will only be able to view your hard inquiries. So while soft inquiries do end up on your report, it’s basically as a technicality.

If you have bad credit and are worried that applying for a loan that could hurt your credit score, there are certain kinds of lenders (including OppLoans) that will only run a soft credit check while reviewing your application. Even if you apply and get turned down, it won’t affect your credit.

P.S. Did you know that you can request a free copy of your credit report?

It’s true! We swear!

In fact, it’s the law. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), every person is legally entitled to receive one free copy of their credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.[4] For those keeping score, that’s three free credit reports per year.

But first you have to ask. To get a free copy of your credit report, just visit www.annualcreditreport.com. If you find an error on your report, just follow this helpful guide from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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References:

  1. “The Difference Between Hard and Soft Credit Inquiries” TransUnion.com. Accessed November 11, 2016 from http://blog.transunion.com/the-difference-between-hard-and-soft-credit-inquiries/
  2. “What are inquiries and how do they affect my FICO score?” MyFico.com. Accessed November 11, 2016 from http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/questions/inquiry-credit-score.aspx
  3. “Hard Inquiries and Soft Inquiries.” Credit Karma. Retrieved November 10, 2016 from https://www.creditkarma.com/article/hard_inquiries_and_soft_inquiries
  4. “Free Credit Reports.” Federal Trade Commission. Accessed November 19, 2016 from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports