Understanding credit scores
Before we talk about hard inquiries, let’s quickly go over what a credit score is and why it matters. Your credit score is a three-digit number that shows how trustworthy you are with credit. It goes from 300 to 900, and a higher score (like 750 or more) means you’re seen as more reliable when it comes to credit.
Understanding hard inquiries
A hard inquiry happens when a bank or financial institution checks your credit report to see if you’re creditworthy. Every time you apply for a new credit card or loan, the bank will ask for your credit report from credit bureaus. This request leaves a mark on your credit history, known as a hard inquiry.
Impact of hard inquiries on your credit score
While one hard inquiry usually doesn’t affect your credit score much, having several in a short time can worry lenders. Here’s why:
- Lowered credit score: If you have many hard inquiries, lenders might think you’re actively looking for credit, which could be risky. As a result, your credit score might go down a bit.
- Timing matters: Credit scoring models look at when the inquiries happen. If you’re shopping around for the best loan or credit card, multiple inquiries within a short time (usually 14-45 days) for the same purpose are usually treated as one.
- Temporary impact: The effect of a hard inquiry on your credit score isn’t permanent. Over time, its influence lessens, and your score will bounce back, especially if you manage your credit well.
Minimizing the impact of hard inquiries
While you can’t avoid hard inquiries completely, you can do things to lessen their impact:
- Plan your applications: Don’t apply for many credits at once. Instead, research, compare offers, and apply only when necessary.
- Be choosy: Only apply for credit when you really need it. Avoid getting multiple credit cards or loans on impulse.
- Check your credit report regularly: Keep an eye on your credit report to catch any unauthorized inquiries. Reporting them to the credit bureau can get them removed.
Now that you understand hard inquiries and how they affect your credit score, it’s important to work towards building a positive credit history. By using credit responsibly, you can improve your creditworthiness and open up better financial opportunities in the future.