As a certified FICO Pro, I get this question on a daily basis. There is so much confusion surrounding the topic of inquiries. It is very important that consumers understand how this process really affects your credit score.
What is an “inquiry”?
When you apply for credit, you authorize those lenders to ask or “inquire” for a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. When you later check your Credit Report, you may notice that their credit inquiries are listed. You may also see the inquiries by businesses that you don’t know. But the only inquiries that count toward your FICO Scores are the ones that result from your applications for new credit.
How much will credit inquiries affect my score?
The impact from applying for credit will vary from person to person based on their unique credit histories. In general, credit inquiries have a small impact on one’s FICO Scores. For most people, one additional credit inquiry will take less than five points off their FICO Scores. For perspective, the full range for FICO Scores is 300-850. Inquiries can have a greater impact if you have few accounts or a short credit history.
Large numbers of inquiries also mean greater risk. Statistically, people with six inquiries or more on their credit reports can be up to eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than people with no inquiries on their reports. While inquiries often can play a part in assessing risk, they play a minor part. Much more important factors for your scores are how timely you pay your bills and your overall debt burden as indicated on your credit report.
FICO Scores ignore inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your scores while you’re rate shopping. In addition, FICO Scores look on your credit report for rate-shopping inquiries older than 30 days. FICO Scores calculated from the newest versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 45-day span.
Soft credit inquiry: When you look at your credit report, you may see inquiries from businesses with whom you didn’t apply for credit. While this may seem odd, it happens, for example, when creditors send you pre-approved credit card offers. To do these actions, they need to have a private investigator look at your report to determine your creditworthiness or as a background check for work. While they are listed on the version of the credit report that you (but not other businesses) can view, soft credit inquiries do not affect your credit score.
Hard credit inquiry: When businesses look at your credit report because of an application you made, these inquiries are known as hard, or voluntary, credit inquiries. These are the types of inquiries that can impact your credit score, and are the ones that potential creditors or lenders will see when they look at your credit report.
Inquiries are a core necessity in the lending world. The fact is that your it is worth your time and effort to shop around. The inquiry itself will have little or no effect on your credit score. Multiple inquiries can be explained to any lender, so the risk is nominal. The reality most scores drop because of missed payments, high revolving balances, and a lack of positive credit history.
About the author:
Paul Oster, FICO Pro is considered the “Nation’s Credit Repair Man”. A credit expert who has appeared on numerous network radio and TV shows (FOX BUSINESS NEWS, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, PIX11). He has also written for Kiplinger’s, WSJ, and the Daily News. Mr. Oster is the founder and President of Better Qualified, LLC. Paul has over 20 years of experience in both the insurance and banking industries and, has dedicated his life as a consumer advocate. Paul is also proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross. His humor and intelligence is highly sought-after from executives in the C-Suite of major corporations, Realtors, and banks.
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