19

I've heard what I believe to be a myth surrounding credit scores being affected by companies (loan, mortgage etc.) checking your file.

I used to have an experian account, and I noticed quite a few hits against my file, yet my score was the maximum it could be, and never changed.

I'd like to know whether credit checks can affect your personal credit score, and of so, why?

  • 2
    Were the hits "soft pulls" which do not affect credit score or "hard pulls" that do affect credit scores? A hard pull occurs when you apply for a new loan or an increase in credit limit, etc. – Dilip Sarwate Sep 10 '14 at 13:29
  • @DilipSarwate I'm going to guess they were "soft pulls". I wasn't aware there was a difference, but I believe you've just answered my question :-) – series0ne Sep 10 '14 at 13:30
  • Yes, they can affect your score if you have "too many" usually more than 5-6 within a year. However, they begin to age off at a year and stop affecting your score after two years. – Brian Sep 10 '14 at 13:51
30

There are two types of credit checks. First is the hard pull which is typically done when you apply for a credit line. The lender will hard pull your file and make his/her decision based on that. This affects your score negatively. You might lose few points for one hard inquiry.

Second type is soft pull, which is done as a background check. Typically done by credit card companies to send you a pre-approved offer, or renting an apartment etc. This does not affect your score.

One thing to keep in mind is a company will not do a hard pull without your permission, where as they can do soft pulls without you even knowing.

Soft inquiries vs hard inquiries

  • For example, credit monitoring services perform soft pulls on your account every day to check for new activity. Your credit score is unchanged from this type of activity. – Sun Sep 11 '14 at 5:46
19

Hard pulls you give your explicit permission to run do affect your credit. Soft pulls do not.

However

While hard pulls affect your score, they don't affect it much. Maybe a couple few point for a little while. In your daily activities, it is inconsequential. If you are prepping to get a mortgage, you should be mindful.

Additionally

Similar type hard pulls in a certain time window will only count once, because it is assume you are shopping. For example, mortgage shopping will result in a lot of hard pulls, but if they are all done in a fortnight, they only count against once. (I believe the time window is actually a month, but I have always had two weeks in my head as the safe window.)

Why?

The reason soft pulls don't matter is because businesses typically won't make credit decisions based on them. A soft pull is so a business can find a list of people to make offers to, but that doesn't mean they ACTUALLY qualify. Only the information in a hard pull will tell them that. I don't know, but I suspect it is more along the lines of "give me everybody who is between 600 and 800 and lives in zip code 12344" not "what is series0ne's credit score?"

A hard pull will lower your score because of a scenario where you open up many many lines of credit in a short period of time. The credit scoring models assume (I am guessing) that you are going to implode. You are either attempting to cover obligations you can't handle, or you are about to create a bunch of obligations you can't handle.

Credit should be used as a convenient method of payment, not a source of wealth. As such, each credit line you open in a short time lowers the score. You are disincentivized to continue opening lines, and lenders at the end of your credit line opening spree will see you as riskier than the first.

2

I've seen my score dip a little bit after every hard pull. (Admittedly, a fako score.) You apply for credit or for a credit increase and your score is going to dip.

Any check that is not intended to grant credit (either an existing creditor rechecking, or when you check your own credit) has no effect on your score. Likewise, a check done to screen for a solicitation have no effect as you are not trying to borrow. (Taking them up on the offer will normally cause a hit, though.)

  • Applying for a credit increase won't always cause your score to dip. In fact it may increase your score by lowering your credit utilization rate. – Michael Minton Jul 11 '16 at 19:16
  • @MichaelMinton Applying will cause a dip. If it's granted and your utilization is high enough that might be a bigger effect, though. – Loren Pechtel Jul 11 '16 at 21:07
1

While one credit provider (or credit reference agency) might score you in one way, others may score you differently including treating different things that contribute to your score differently.

Different credit providers may also not see all of your credit score as potentially some data may not be available to all credit suppliers.

Further too many searches may trigger systems that recognise behavior that is a sign of possible fraudulent activity (such as applying for many items of credit in a short space of time). Whether this would directly affect a score or trigger manual checks is also likely to vary. In situations like this a person could have applied for (say) a dozen credit cards, with all the credit checks being performed before there is any credit history for any of those dozen cards.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.