What Is A Credit Inquiry? Everything You Need To Know

image- Dec 16, 2020credit0 comments

Credit inquiries aren’t something to cry too much about. Let’s establish what they are, the different types of them, and whether they affect your credit score or not.

Credit Inquiry

A credit inquiry aka credit pull is when someone requests to have your credit report reviewed. Think of it as an audit- every number is looked at and questioned. There are two types of credit inquiries- hard inquiries and soft inquiries.

What is a hard inquiry?

A hard inquiry is when a creditor has requested to see your credit history, to gain information on your payment history.

When is a hard inquiry made?

A hard inquiry will usually be done when you request a loan from a lender. That can happen when you apply for a loan, credit card, mortgage, or car loan.

The lender wants to protect themself from a negligent borrower. By looking at your credit report, they see if you’re on top of paying your credit card bills, auto loan, and the like.

Hard inquiry effect on score

A question that comes up often is, does a hard inquiry affect my credit score? The short answer is yes and no. (I know, I know- I hate that answer too.)

A hard inquiry will affect your credit score in the short term. It may cause your number to drop slightly, right after the hard inquiry is done. The good news is that it won’t remain like that forever. (Phew!) By twelve months after the inquiry, your score won’t be affected anymore.

The more hard inquiries done, the more your credit score will be affected, though. That’s why you should reconsider applying for a few credit cards at a time, as this results in multiple hard inquiries done at one time. Best is that there shouldn’t be more than 5 hard inquiries in 12 months.

Read: Which credit card issuers will combine same-day credit inquiries

How long does a hard inquiry stay on a credit report?

By two years, your hard inquiry should be off your credit report altogether.

Now, what happens if you applied for a few credit cards, knowing you probably won’t be approved for all? Will the credit inquiry still be on your credit report if you get declined? The answer is that yes, the hard inquiry will still be on your credit report. You’re best off applying for cards that you have a fair chance of getting approved for.

What is a soft inquiry?

Now, let’s talk about soft inquiries aka soft pulls. A soft inquiry is when you check your credit report, or you allow someone to check your credit (like a potential employer). A soft inquiry also occurs when a lender checks your credit report in order to pre-approve you for an offer.

When is a soft inquiry made?

Soft inquiries are not done in relation to loans. They’ll usually be done by landlords, potential employers, insurance companies, utility companies or for pre-qualified offers.Those pre-qualified credit card offers you get in your mailbox aren’t numbers that are pulled out of a hat. They’re usually based on your score.

Soft credit check effect on score

A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score, and they can’t be viewed by anybody but yourself. This is a good thing since soft inquiries are constantly being made.

Inquiries & the three credit bureaus

There are three credit bureaus- credit-reporting agencies- TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Generally, banks will only pull a credit report from one agency when you apply for a credit card. As for mortgages, car loans, or other loans, a credit inquiry will be done by all three bureaus.

Banks won’t do credit inquiries by the same credit bureaus all the time. It differs based on the state and the time period. On our CC Results Page, people report what credit bureaus their credit was pulled from. When applying for a card, you can search for someone from your state that applied to the same bank within the last few months. Generally, your credit inquiry will be done by the same agency as that person.

What if I found an error on my credit report?

What happens if you get your credit report, and you notice a few inquiries that you weren’t aware about, or that you don’t recognize? This may very well be that someone is misusing your credit report.

If you notice something amiss on your credit report, call the bank that conducted the inquiry, find out some more information about it, and dispute it if it’s inaccurate. If you fear that your personal information was stolen and someone is opening false accounts in your name, then your best option may be to freeze your credit reports. Check out more details here.

Credit inquiries while you’re rate shopping

Buying a car and a home is not the same as purchasing groceries and clothing. They’re a lot more expensive and call for a lot more decision-making than minor purchases do. It’s very reasonable to want to “shop around for rates”, to see if one offer will be cheaper than the other.

That means applying for a few loans at various banks or car dealerships. By applying to a few places, you’re causing multiple hard inquiries to be done, which can be detrimental to your credit score.

The good news is that with the most-used FICO model, all inquiries that are made within 45 days are considered one inquiry (if you are “rate shopping”). Some older FICO models and various other scoring models will group inquiries made within 14 days of each other. Read more details about rate shopping here.

With all that covered, here’s to wishing you much luck with your credit score, reports, and history!

Frequently asked questions
Does checking my credit report cause a soft pull?
Yes, when you request to review your report, a soft inquiry will be done. Please note that soft inquiries do not affect your credit score in any way.
Which credit cards do soft pulls?
As far as I’m aware, credit companies will always do a hard inquiry when you apply for a credit card. Amex, however, will often not pull the credit of their existing customers.
Why does a credit inquiry lower my score?
The fact that someone is in need of more credit, leads to the assumption that they are in a financially difficult situation.
When else does a hard inquiry happen, besides for when I apply for a credit card or loan?
When you request a credit limit increase, some issuers may do a hard inquiry. Chase bank does hard inquiries when their customers request a credit limit increase.
Is my consent needed in order for a soft inquiry to be done?
No, soft pulls can be done without your consent. It needs to have a legitimate reason for it, though (for example pre-approving a firm offer of credit, etc).
How much will my score be affected by a hard credit inquiry?
According to FICO, a hard inquiry can shave off up to 5 points off your credit score. If your credit history is solid, though, the number decreased might even be less than 5 points. Or much more then 5 points if there are already multiple credit inquiries on your credit report

Was this article helpful?

Sam Sam has nearly a decade's worth of experience educating his many readers on everything credit. Sam spends his days checking out credit cards for a full report, from the minute benefit details to the shebang of welcome bonuses. Plus studying the ins and outs of building proper credit. It’s his favorite pastime and he loves sharing it with others.

Leave A Comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



  1. Know the Approval Rules Set by Credit Card Issuers - Help Me Build Credit - […] free, but why apply if you do not even stand a chance to get approved (you’re just wasting a…

Recent Posts

Follow us


Click here to subscribe to
our WhatsApp channel

best offers


Chase Ink Business Preferred

Earn 100,000 points after $15,000 spent within the first 3 months.

more info

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

Earn $750 (75,000 points) after $7,500 spent within the first 3 months. Intro 0% APR for 12 months on purchases.

more info

JetBlue Card

Earn a total of 100,000 points after a total of $6,000 spent within the first 12 months. See offer details for full offer. Intro 0% APR for 12 months on balance transfers.

more info

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Earn 60,000 points after $4,000 spent within the first 3 months.

more info

You May Also Like

8 Actionable Tricks for Quick Credit Score Improvement

8 Actionable Tricks for Quick Credit Score Improvement

Ever seen a 4 year old do one of those “it’s not fair” tantrums? (No? Good for you…) What I’m gonna say may (or may not!) lead to a similar reaction, but don’t fret- it can be worked out! So, here it goes… Did you know that even if you never missed a payment your...

read more
Where Can I Find The Most Accurate Credit Scores?

Where Can I Find The Most Accurate Credit Scores?

What’s sweat-inducing, hair-raising and spine-chilling for men and women alike? Credit scores. Yep, those intangible & non-physical numbers that determine our lending options, insurance quotes, job opportunities and even the fact of having a roof over our head....

read more
Average Age of Credit History -True or False

Average Age of Credit History -True or False

If you ever reviewed your credit report using Credit Karma, Wallet Hub, Nerd Wallet, etc., you may have noticed that they all break down your credit history based on the average age of credit history taken from all your trade lines combined. For example, if you have a...

read more
The 5 Most Important Factors In A FICO Score

The 5 Most Important Factors In A FICO Score

The FICO score model is the mostly widely used scoring model. As per Fico, as much as 90% of lending decisions that are done using a scoring model, use the Fico scoring model. In this post we will discuss the 5 most important factors that Fico would look at in order...

read more
Why Are My Credit Scores Different?

Why Are My Credit Scores Different?

When people check their credit score, should it be by Credit Karma or on their Discover statement, etc., they look at the three-digit number. They take it as a fact that this is their credit score. Period. The same way they know their age and weight, they feel that...

read more
Credit Scores And Mortgages: Here Is What You Need To Know

Credit Scores And Mortgages: Here Is What You Need To Know

Shopping for a mortgage but got bad credit? You are not alone! I invited a great mortgage expert Chaim Tarkieltaub from Mint Capital to explain the differences between the different mortgage products available for consumers at all stages of credit. Let’s explore the...

read more
Intoducing FICO® Resilience Index

Intoducing FICO® Resilience Index

Fico now has another tool to calculate how consumers use credit. The FICO® Resilience Index was created specifically for difficult financial times. Lenders will be able to decide if a consumer can handle his finances during difficult times. They are referring to that...

read more

Download link sent

Got it*please check your promotional inbox

Error sending download link

Try Again