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Checking your own credit reports won’t hurt your credit score. It’s a soft inquiry—and you can check your reports as often as you’d like without any effect on your scores.
Credit journeys begin with credit reports. With a copy of your report in hand, you can generate a plan: you can get out of debt, remove errors, or apply for great-value financial products, for example. If you don’t know how to do a soft credit check—or if you’re worried that you’ll damage your credit score by pulling a copy of your credit report—you’re in the right place. Read on to find out how to do a soft credit check and check your own credit score.
Two different types of credit inquiry exist: hard and soft. Applications for credit generate hard inquiries on your credit report. Soft inquiries do not show up on your credit report.
Hard inquiries happen when:
Soft inquiries happen when:
When you apply for credit, you give the financial institution permission to pull your credit report so that it can decide whether or not to approve you. When the credit card or loan company asks for your credit report, the credit bureau notes the request—and that, in a nutshell, is a hard inquiry.
Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for up to two years, but they make less of an impact after 12 months. The more hard inquiries you have on your credit report, the more dramatically your score will decrease.
Tip: Companies need your permission (in the form of your application) to run a hard credit check. If you see a hard inquiry on your report that you did not authorize, you may want to work with a credit repair organization to challenge it.
Soft inquiries are different. Companies don’t need to get permission before making soft inquiries—but soft inquiries don’t impact your credit score because they’re not connected with applications for credit. Soft inquiries may still appear on your credit report, depending on the bureau.
Soft credit checks aren’t associated with applications for credit, so you won’t get a credit decision with it. They’re purely informational and don’t impact your credit score at all.
Checking your own credit won’t hurt your credit score one bit. You can pull your own credit report in a number of different ways.
If you apply for credit but get refused, you’ll receive a letter called an “adverse action notice.” An adverse action notice gives you the right to claim a free copy of your credit report from the applicable bureau within 60 days of your credit denial.
Tip: It’s important to check your credit regularly. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, you can get free weekly online credit reports from all three bureaus for a limited time.
Lots of factors influence your credit score. In basic terms, your credit score is a numerical representation of how reliable you are from a credit perspective. When you make loan repayments on time, for instance, this should have a positive impact on your credit score depending on other scoring factors. Most credit scores are based on the following five things:
So, 90% of your credit score isn’t based on account inquiries—and soft inquiries don’t make any impact at all. Depending on your credit history and other factors though, making several applications for credit in a short time, your score could drop (temporarily) by 3 to 35 points.
Is it bad to check your credit score? In a word, no. If you’re curious about your credit report, we recommend signing up for ExtraCredit. Doing so won’t impact your credit score—in fact, the knowledge you gain could better help you maintain a good credit history. You can use the information you find to build a custom credit plan or to drive your score up from good to great.
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