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  • Writer's pictureSubhan Tariq, Esq

The Difference Between a Soft and Hard Inquiry

When it comes to credit reports, inquiries are an important aspect to consider. Inquiries are requests for credit information from a credit bureau, and they can be classified into two categories: soft inquiries and hard inquiries. It's important to understand the difference between the two types of inquiries, as they can have different impacts on your credit score and credit report.

Soft inquiries are inquiries that don't affect your credit score or credit report. They typically occur when a lender or creditor checks your credit report for background information, such as when you're pre-approved for a credit card or receive a promotional offer. Soft inquiries can also occur when you check your own credit report.

One of the main differences between soft and hard inquiries is that soft inquiries are not visible to lenders or creditors when they access your credit report. This means that soft inquiries don't affect your ability to obtain credit, and they don't appear on your credit report as a negative factor.

Some examples of soft inquiries include:

  • Checking your own credit report

  • Employer background checks

  • Pre-approval offers for credit cards or loans

  • Insurance quotes

  • Credit monitoring services

Hard inquiries, on the other hand, can affect your credit score and credit report. Hard inquiries occur when you apply for credit, such as a loan or credit card. Lenders and creditors use hard inquiries to evaluate your creditworthiness, as they indicate that you're actively seeking credit.

Each hard inquiry appears on your credit report and remains there for up to two years. Hard inquiries can have a negative impact on your credit score, as they indicate that you may be taking on more debt. However, the impact of a hard inquiry on your credit score is usually small and temporary.

It's important to note that not all hard inquiries are created equal. For example, if you're shopping for a mortgage or auto loan, multiple inquiries within a short period of time (typically 14 to 45 days) are usually counted as a single inquiry. This is because credit scoring models recognize that shopping for a loan involves comparison shopping, and they don't penalize you for doing so.

Some examples of hard inquiries include:

  • Applying for a credit card or loan

  • Renting an apartment

  • Opening a new utility account

  • Applying for a job that requires a credit check

It's important to be mindful of how often you're applying for credit, as multiple hard inquiries within a short period of time can lower your credit score. If you're planning to apply for credit, it's a good idea to do your research beforehand and only apply for credit that you're confident you'll be approved for.

In short, understanding the difference between soft and hard inquiries is important when it comes to managing your credit. Soft inquiries are typically harmless and don't impact your credit score, while hard inquiries can affect your credit score and credit report. By being mindful of when and why inquiries are occurring, you can make informed decisions about when to apply for credit and how to protect your credit score. For more info, reach out to us at, or submit a case review request.



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