Anytime you apply for credit, a lender or creditor will initiate a hard inquiry on your behalf, which can impact your credit score. If concerned about losing points, you might wonder, “How long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report?”
Hard inquiries remain on your credit report for two years from the date of the inquiry. However, their impact is lessened significantly after a couple of months for two reasons: either you opened a new account, which becomes the focus of potential risk — or you didn’t open a new account, which means the inquiry isn’t connected to a risk.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about credit inquiries and how they affect your credit score.
Hard vs. soft credit inquiry
Your credit can be pulled for various reasons, including when you want to check your credit. The difference is whether the credit pull, or inquiry, is considered hard or soft.
Soft inquiries can be done without your knowledge and don’t affect your credit score. Hard inquiries require your consent and do affect your credit score.
Here’s more information on hard and soft inquiries and how they affect scores:
Types of hard and soft inquiries
Credit inquiries are considered “hard” or “soft” depending on who pulls them. Here are some examples of both types.
Hard inquiries are usually in response to a credit or loan application you initiate with a lender, such as the following:
- Auto lender
- Student loan lender
- Mortgage or home equity lender
- Credit card issuer
Also, an inquiry is considered a hard pull when you respond to pre-approved offers of credit or take advantage of instant-credit offers at a retailer’s register.
Soft inquiries can be initiated without your permission and occur in the following situations:
- Your current lender or creditor reviews your credit report
- A creditor looks at your credit to pre-qualify you for an offer You request a copy of your credit reports
Do hard inquiries drop your credit score?
Hard inquiries do cause a drop in your credit score. The amount of the drop depends partly on the particular credit-scoring model that’s used, such as VantageScore or FICO. Other factors are considered, however. Here’s what you need to know about each model:
A hard credit inquiry can shave five to 10 points off your VantageScore credit score. The exact amount, however, depends on additional factors like whether you’ve had any late payments and how long you’ve been using credit.
According to FICO, one hard inquiry will take less than five points off of most people’s credit scores. If you only have few accounts or a short credit history, the impact of the hard inquiry can be greater.
Rate shopping dos and don’ts
Rate shopping is a way to get offers from different lenders and find the best deal. The trick is to rate shop in a way that has the least impact on your credit score. Here are rate shopping do’s and don’ts for VantageScore and FICO models.
Under the VantageScore model, you can rate shop in any category you want, including credit cards. But you don’t want to exceed a 14-day window when making those inquiries.
Under the FICO model, you can rate shop when you are buying a car or a house, renting an apartment or applying for a student loan. You don’t want to rate shop for credit cards, however. You also don’t want to exceed a 45-day window when making rate-shopping inquiries.
Soft inquiries will not lower your credit scores
Soft inquiries — also known as soft pulls — don’t have any effect on your credit score. They include checking your own credit or an employer verifying your credit. Unlike hard inquiries, soft inquiries have nothing to do with applying for new credit.
Disputing inquiries on your credit report
If you notice a hard inquiry on your credit report that you didn’t authorize, you can dispute it. The first step is to contact the company that made the inquiry and ask why the inquiry was made. If it was a reporting error, ask the company to contact the credit bureaus and have the inquiry removed.
Or you can contact the credit bureau directly and report the inquiry as unauthorized. All three credit bureaus have dispute processes you can initiate by phone, online or by sending a dispute letter by mail.
Credit inquiry FAQ
Is there a way to avoid hard inquiries?
Sometimes, you might not know whether a hard inquiry might occur, such as if you’re renting an apartment or a car. If you’re unsure, ask the person or company what kind of inquiry is used before you waste your time filling out paperwork.
How heavily do credit inquiries figure into my score?
You’ll never be denied credit solely on the basis of inquiries because they are much less important than other risk factors such as paying on time.
How do I know if I have too many inquiries?
Credit scores include reason codes or score factor codes to explain why your score isn’t higher. If you see “you have too many inquiries” listed as one of the factors or reasons, then you’ll know the inquiries are an issue.
Hard inquiries are considered one of the lesser factors when it comes to your credit score. They’re a part of obtaining credit, and you generally shouldn’t go out of your way to avoid them.
Are hard inquiries an issue for you? Let us know in the comments.