After I was done with my month long credit card applications to establish a credit history, I read and discussed more on how to build a good credit history.

During my conversations, I spoke with a loan officer at a credit union who told me that any lender can see my complete history with a soft pull.

He proceeded to do a soft pull with my SSN number and showed me the screen he had in front of me and I could see not only my history, but well grouped summary of it, broken down into four sections per category.

Since he was a new hire, he was not very sure how a hard pull is different but told me they show the same information.

Why is that so and are the reports obtained via a hard pull different from a soft pull?

It does not make sense to have two different reports, and if they are the same, why do lenders do a hard pull when I initiate a credit application when they can do a soft pull to make the same decision?

Does the hard pull serve only as a notice to other lenders that it was initiated by you and not by the lender or are there differences, in reality?

3 Answers 3


Hard pull is made per your request when you apply for credit. Soft pull is made for many reasons, but not when you're applying for credit.

So the point is to report your credit application.

  • 3
    So it's just a technicality. A hard pull is basically a lender saying "Hey, I am going to put a flag on your record that you explicitly asked for credit from me", but they yield the same report. Oct 21, 2011 at 0:18
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    Exactly. Because your credit application is a significant piece of information for the short term.
    – littleadv
    Oct 21, 2011 at 0:29

In terms of the information available on the report there isn't a difference between a hard and soft credit check.

Doing a hard pull when you request credit is part of the lender's agreement with the credit reporting agency. The purpose is to allow lenders to better understand the risk they are taking by lending to you. A person that has requested a dozen new credit cards is likely a higher risk than a person that has only opened one in the last year.

On a related note I wouldn't worry to much about having a few hard credit inquiries on your credit report they are only a couple of points each at most. Each of the 3 major credit bureaus has their own count and lenders typically only pull one so if had 10 hard pulls the lender would likely only see 3 of them.


What littleadv said, plus - the soft pull occurs when you pull your own reports (do it all you want, no impact) or when banks soft pull to prescreen a credit card or other loan offer to you.

  • Experian put a freeze on my record for using Quizzle! Odd. Oct 21, 2011 at 0:19
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    A note on pulling to many soft pulls. There is the risk of ending up with a split file if you go over board. There was a bug err a feature where certain bureaus software only held ~80 total credit pulls and so you could get rid of hard pulls by simply doing enough soft ones. Some people that used this feature ended up having their files split which can be a bit messy.
    – stoj
    Oct 22, 2011 at 4:01

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