In the grocery, we find people that touch, squeeze, and feel every apple before they choose the one they want. This is called a shopper (not everyone is a shopper there are people who just go shopping). Possibly you’re not this type when you go shopping for apples, but when making a bigger purchase, like buying a home, and applying for a mortgage, I believe every person will want to shop for the best rate. By a mortgage, the difference of a quarter point in interest can make a much bigger difference in your monthly budget than the difference of two apples. And yes, there will be a difference in the interest rate from one lender to the next. There is no standard rate. So never settle on the first rate quote you get.
Will It Affect My Credit Score?
10% of a FICO score is calculated on new credit, (for more on this read: The 5 Most Important Factors In A FICO Score) which means every time you apply for new credit your score will go down by a few points. The reason is because when you’re applying for a new loan, credit models look at it as a possible change in your financial status that requires you to borrow more money, and that may ultimately affect your ability to pay back what you owe. For that, you deserve a lower credit score. (They look at someone applying for a credit card as some one that is looking to borrow more money, even if you did it just to get 10% off your purchases or just to get an exciting welcome bonus.)
When you go rate shopping, every time you want to get a new rate quote, the bank will want to pull your credit. But don’t worry, in this case most credit models will understand that you’re not applying now for several different loans and you’re only trying to get the best deal on the same loan. Therefore, under certain guidelines pointed out below they will combine the credit inquiries into one credit inquiry. Basically, even if you had five credit inquiries, they will all together have the same effect on your credit score as one credit inquiry.
In order for credit models to combine the credit inquiries, all credit inquiries must be made within a 15-45 day time frame. (Older models give you 15 days; newer models give you 45 days. For more information on how many days each FICO model will give you, read this post).
All credit inquiries must be for the same loan amount. (Make sure to be consistent with the information you provide to the banks.)
It is only combined when applying for a mortgage or auto loan and not a credit card. Credit card inquiries never combine, even though you’re applying for all credit cards the same day and even if they are all from the same bank. I do want to point out that Amex will only make one credit inquiry per day so applying for a few Amex credit cards in one day will only result in one credit inquiry.
Wishing you a lot of success in finding the best interest rate!