You authorize credit providers to request copies of your credit reports when you apply for credit. You may see their credit inquiries later when you get your credit report. Your FICO Scores are only affected by inquiries made when you seek new credit.
Inquiries about credit history can take two forms:
- Soft inquiries (e.g., viewing one's credit report)
- Hard inquires (e.g., when you apply for a mortgage).
How Hard and Soft Credit Inquiries Differ From Each Other
This is not a formal credit request but rather proof that an individual's credit history was sought by their current loan provider or a financial organization intending to offer them a loan or insurance package. Soft inquiries include a person's request to view their own credit reports. Soft inquiries do not affect credit scores because they do not originate from a loan application.
On the other hand, hard inquiries are the outcome of active loan applications, e.g., a mortgage, auto loan, or new credit card. Hard inquiries can influence your credit score and can stay on your credit record for up to two years.
How do hard credit inquiries impact FICO scores?
If you actively seek multiple credits within a short time frame, your credit report will reflect those inquiries. Seeking new loan opportunities may indicate a higher risk, but there's some sophistication in how credit scoring models now consider hard inquiries arising from credit applications.
See, in the past, credit scoring models viewed all hard inquiries triggered by loan applications independently. For example, you could be shopping around various lenders for the one with the best loan rate and terms, but the credit scoring model would treat this as multiple inquiries, each affecting your credit score separately.
To eliminate this unfair treatment of rate shoppers, credit scoring models began considering all inquiries made in a 45-day time period as just a single inquiry. Furthermore, the score now disregards all inquiries submitted in the month preceding scoring. That's to say that while your rate shopping, the inquiries won't harm your score if you find credit within a month.
Furthermore, FICO Scores only take into account inquiries from the past year. However, the inquiries remain on your report for two years.
To what extent will credit inquiries affect your FICO score?
Under FICOs credit scoring system, hard inquires belong in the New Credit category; items in this category have the most negligible influence on your credit score. Specifically, this category contributes 10 percent to your FICO score. However, the impact of seeking new credit varies from individual to individual and is determined by their credit history. Typically, an extra credit inquiry will result in a drop of five points in a person's FICO score.
Other things considered in the new credit include:
- The number and type of new accounts you have: Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.
- When you last opened a new account: Open new accounts responsibly and settle them on time.
- The period since lenders last conducted credit report inquiries: the longer, the better because FICO excludes inquiries older than 12 months.
- Installment loans and credits: have debts and manage them responsibly
- The rate of interest owed on credit cards and other accounts
Additionally, Lenders may consider this information:
- Your home address
- If you have any rental agreements or child support to report
What is not vital for your FICO score?
While a wide range of information influences your credit score, the following is not essential:
- Your gender, race, color, age, religion, marital status, or national origin
- Whether you are receiving public assistance
- Your occupation, title, salary, employer, or employment history
- Any inquiries you make or your employers or lenders make without your permission
A credit report contains various information. Some are useful and can be used to determine whether the report contains errors or what to do for a better score in the future; others are not important. When it comes to credit inquiries, soft inquiries don't matter, but hard inquiries matter to an extent. If you require credit, shop for rates within a short time frame, ideally 30 days.
FICO Scores consider the timeframe over which inquiries are made to distinguish between shopping around for better loan rates and shopping around for multiple credit lines. Open new credit accounts only when necessary and consider your FICO score and credit report before applying. Viewing your own credit report won't impact your score.