Are you concerned about your credit rating and unsure if checking it repeatedly will affect your score? You’re not alone. Many people have possibly heard the same things that you have – that repeated credit checks will lower your credit scores. This is true, but do not become a worry wart over your credit and cause yourself unneeded stress. You should only check your credit report at least once a year to correct errors and detect unauthorized activity. But if you must keep an eye on your credit for personal reasons or you are looking to make a big purchase soon, then you should pay close attention to your credit.
What you need to understand is that there are two distinct differences in the types of credit checks that will determine if this is true or not – hard vs. soft credit report checks.
Hard Credit Checks and Your Credit Report
Hard credit checks are considered to be those credit checks run for things such as automobile, mortgage, or student loans. These types of inquiries indicate to credit agencies that you are planning on borrowing or securing large amounts of money. Sometimes agencies consider inquiries into your credit for the purposes of establishing a rental agreement to be hard credit checks because you are essentially becoming indebted to your rental company each month for an extended period of time. The more money you borrow, the higher financial risk you become. These types of hard credit checks will usually lower your credit score by about five points or less. These are credit checks that are initiated by you and your application as a potential borrower, so in a sense you are the one lowering your credit score, even if unintentionally.
If you are applying with multiple institutions for loans for one item, such as applying at two different banks to see which will give you the better interest rate for a new car, these multiple credit inquiries usually will not have multiple effects on your credit report. Most reporting agencies don’t negatively reduce the score on your credit report for inquiries made on these types of loan applications if they are made within the same 30-day time period.
Soft Credit Checks and Your Credit Report
Soft credit checks are those inquiries that your employer might make as part of a routine screening process, or that include your own personal inquiries to monitor the status and security of your credit report. Reporting bureaus do not penalize you for monitoring your own credit score, as long as you are doing so without applying for increases in borrowed money. Companies that run credit checks on you because they are offering promotional credit cards, those “junk mail” credit offers you receive in the mail, also don’t negatively affect your credit score because you didn’t pursue the inquiry in an attempt to secure a loan amount. These soft inquiries will remain on your credit report, but only as a record of who is checking your credit and not as a negative source for your credit score.
Don’t stop monitoring your credit report because you are concerned it will lower your credit score. It is valuable to know how your borrowing history is impacting your credit, and your future. As long as you perform your credit check without the immediate intention of potentially borrowing more money, your credit inquiry will be a soft credit check and not negatively affect your score.
For a free credit report once per year
The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — every 12 months. You can request your free report online, by phone or by mail. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or fill out the Annual Credit Report Request form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. No matter how you request your report, you have the option to request all three reports at once or to order one report at a time.