How many hard inquiries is too many?

how many credit inquiries hurt your score

There isn’t a universally recommended limit for hard inquiries, as it can vary based on individual credit profiles and the scoring models used by different credit bureaus. However, it’s always best to limit hard inquiries into your credit except when absolutely necessary. Try to limit credit applications to just one or two to avoid unnecessary damage to your credit score.
Credit scores are an important financial indicator most lenders and financial institutions use. Your credit score will play a significant role in what kind of interest rates, funding amounts, and payback terms you may receive on a loan. Since these scores are so important, it’s essential to do everything you can to make sure your credit stays in good financial health. If you are looking for a loan and don’t want your credit to suffer, you may be wondering how many credit inquiries hurt your score.  

Here, you will find essential information about how your credit score works, as well as everything you need to know about how many inquiries is too many. 

What Is a Hard Credit Inquiry vs. A Soft Credit Inquiry on My Credit Report?

To understand how credit inquiries affect your credit score, it’s important to start with the basics. There are two ways financial institutions and individuals can access credit scores; via a hard or a soft credit check. Hard and soft credit checks are used to access what is called a credit report. A credit report is a consolidated look at a consumer’s credit and financial habits. 

Hard credit checks, also called hard credit inquiries, are a formal look at a consumer’s credit report. Before approving consumers for loans or new lines of credit, lenders and financial institutions will perform a hard credit check. The purpose of hard credit inquiries is to assess the financial responsibility and potential lending risk of a prospective borrower. 

Instances when you may acquire a new hard credit inquiry are:

  • When you apply for instant online payday loans
  • Applying for auto loans or car loans
  • Applying for a mortgage
  • Applying for lines of credit with credit card issuers 

Pre-approval applications usually result in soft inquiries, which do not affect your credit score. However, it’s essential to confirm this with the lender as practices may vary. When considering applying for new credit, it’s advisable not to do so frequently to avoid accumulating too many hard inquiries. Specific guidelines, such as those from mortgage lenders regarding hard inquiries, can often be found on the lenders’ official websites or by consulting directly with the lenders. For understanding the impact of different types of credit applications on hard inquiries, resources such as financial advisory websites and credit bureaus offer valuable insights. Statistics regarding the average number of hard inquiries among consumers with excellent credit scores can be found through credit bureaus’ reports, financial research publications, and reputable financial news websites.

How Can Multiple Credit Inquiries Affect Your Finances?

Unfortunately, a bad credit score can affect your ability to borrow money. Usually, people with credit scores on the lower side have a harder time finding loan approval. Some exceptions exist, such as bad credit installment loans and some secured loans

Soft credit checks, also called soft credit inquiries, are an informal look at a consumer’s credit. Individuals may perform soft inquiries and request a credit report. This personal credit report will contain the same core information that lenders acquire when they perform hard credit checks.

Unlike hard inquiries, a soft inquiry does not have a negative impact on credit scores. In fact, consumers are encouraged to perform soft credit checks frequently on their own in order to be familiar with their credit scores. By checking your score often, you can see in real-time how your various financial habits and behaviors affect your credit altogether. 

How Many Hard Inquiries Are Too Many Credit Inquiries?

Multiple hard inquiries can lower your credit score relatively quickly, often immediately after they appear on your credit report. Having several hard inquiries can impact loan applications negatively, as lenders may view this as a sign of financial distress or risky borrowing behavior. Lenders often see multiple hard credit inquiries as a red flag, indicating that the borrower might be seeking credit from multiple sources due to financial instability. The age of hard inquiries also plays a role; while they remain on the credit report for two years, their impact diminishes over time, usually within a few months. For resources providing insights into how much a credit score may drop due to multiple hard inquiries, one can refer to credit bureaus’ websites, financial advisory platforms, and credit monitoring services that offer personalized credit report analysis and guidance.

While it is in your best interest to shop around when looking for a loan, applying for multiple loans within a short period of time may end up having a negative impact on your credit score. 

The guidelines and limits pertaining to hard credit inquiries are typically determined by credit bureaus and various financial institutions that assess creditworthiness. Factors that are considered in determining whether the number of hard inquiries is excessive include the frequency of the inquiries, the time span within which they occur, and the type of credit or loan being applied for. Multiple hard credit inquiries within a short period are often seen as a red flag, indicating financial distress or irresponsible credit behavior, which could potentially impact one’s credit score negatively.

Exceptions with Hard Credit Inquiries

There are exceptions where multiple hard inquiries are treated as a single inquiry, particularly when shopping for certain types of loans like mortgages or auto loans within a short period, usually 14 to 45 days. This is to allow consumers to compare rates without severely impacting their credit scores. For understanding these exceptions or special circumstances, consulting credit bureaus’ official websites or reaching out to financial advisors specializing in credit management would be beneficial. These professionals can elucidate how hard inquiries influence overall creditworthiness and offer tailored advice for credit rebuilding. Additionally, credit counseling agencies and some non-profit organizations provide guidance and real-life examples illustrating the detrimental effects of excessive hard inquiries on one’s financial health and credit opportunities.

Perks of Avoiding Multiple Hard Inquiries

When lenders and financial institutions see that you are dedicated to your line of credit, they are more likely to offer perks. For example, if you have a credit card and pay off your balance regularly and maintain healthy financial habits, the card issuer may provide you with a credit line increase. 

What Affects My Credit Score?

The average credit score in the United States is 714.1 There are typically five major financial categories that make up credit scoring models used by the three major credit bureaus. They are: 

  • Payment history
  • Length of credit history
  • Mix of financial and credit accounts 
  • Debts owed 
  • Hard credit inquiries 

Payment History

The most impactful behavior that will impact your credit score is your payment history. Credit bureaus love to see that borrowers have a solid history of making their due bills and payments on time. Delinquent payments reported on a consumer’s credit file may end up affecting their credit score for up to seven years.

Length of Your Credit History

Another contributing factor to credit scores is the length of a person’s credit history. Generally, credit history begins as soon as a consumer opens a financial account. Parents or legal guardians will often open checking or savings accounts for their children at a young age in order to help them start establishing a credit history. 

Types of Financial Accounts

The different types of financial accounts is also a factor that affects credit scores. Some different types of accounts that may affect your credit report are: 

  • Savings accounts
  • CDs
  • Mortgages
  • Student loans
  • Payday loans
  • Opening an account with a credit card issuer

Debt-to-Income Ratio 

Your credit report will also contain information about your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio refers to how much money a consumer owes in debts compared to how much money they regularly bring in. Owing a substantial amount in debt and having an extremely low income indicates a poor debt-to-income ratio and may be a red flag on a consumer’s credit report.  

General Financial History 

Credit bureaus also gather information on various financial habits and significant events. Types of habits and behaviors that may impact your credit score are: 

  • If you declare bankruptcy
  • If you are going through pre-bankruptcy credit counseling
  • If you are working with a settlement company to settle debts 

Credit Score Ranges

Credit Score Ranges Category Description
300 – 579PoorMay be considered a high credit risk, and may have trouble getting approved for credit or loans. 
580 – 699FairConsidered to be a subprime borrower but might get approved but possibly with higher interest rates. 
670 – 739GoodLikely to be approved for credit or loans, and will get average interest rates. 
740 – 799Very GoodLikely to receive better than average interest rates and special offers. 
800 – 850Excellent Will receive the best interest rates and offers for credit cards and loans. 

How To Avoid Hard Credit Inquiries That Could Hurt Your Score 

Looking to avoid multiple inquiries on your credit? Thankfully, there are a few ways people can go about earning money that doesn’t involve applying for a loan. Below you will find details about how you can make money without acquiring a hard credit inquiry.

Have a Garage Sale or Sell Items Online

You can often make a significant amount of cash just by selling items you don’t use or want anymore. Go through your home and look through your closets, cabinets, and other storage spaces. Chances are you will find clothing, utensils, appliances, or other things you don’t have a need for. From there, you can have a garage sale or post listings on a website like eBay or Amazon to sell online. 

Get a Part-Time Job

You can also earn extra cash by getting a part-time job. If you would like to work part-time temporarily, you may consider getting a seasonal position at a retail store. You can also earn money per delivery with companies like Uber, GrubHub, DoorDash, or PostMates. There are also easy jobs you can do part-time from home, such as freelance work, being a virtual assistant, or data entry.

Organize Your Finances

You may also find that organizing your finances is a good alternative to getting a loan. Poor financial habits like impulse purchasing and overspending can end up costing you in the long run. By organizing your finances and creating a budget, you can help prevent those kinds of habits from ruining your financial situation.    

Access Your Emergency Fund

If you have an emergency savings fund, you may want to dip into those savings before applying for a loan. Using your own money will save you 100% on interest rates, and you won’t have to go through the hassle of applying for funding, sending in documents, and waiting for your cash. 

Top Tips To Improve Credit Reports 

Credit repair can be an essential tool in helping borrowers get better loan deals in the future. Check out some tips below on how to improve a bad credit score

Pay Your Bills on Time

Since payment history is the most critical factor that will affect your credit, it is vital always to pay your due bills and expenses on time. 

To start building a strong payment history, you may want to opt for automatic payments, also called autopay, to pay your bills. Autopay is a feature available with most loans and lines of credit that allows the lender to automatically deduct money from your checking account on your payment due date. That way, you never have to worry about remembering to make payments on time! 

Pay More Than Your Minimum Payment Due Each Month

Try to pay more than your minimum amount due for your loans and other debts that accumulate interest. The more you chip away at your balances, the less there is for lenders to charge interest on. You may be able to save a significant amount of money by paying a bit more on your personal loans and other debts each month. 

Not only can this method help you save money, but it will also help you pay off your loan faster. The combination of making payments on time and paying off loans and debts will help boost your credit score over time. 

Spend Responsibly 

While you want to avoid habitual impulse purchases, spending money is still a part of maintaining healthy financial habits and avoiding bankruptcy. As recently as 2022, there were over 387,720 declarations of bankruptcy in the United States!2 Be conscious of how you spend your money to avoid overspending and putting yourself in debt. 

FAQ: How Many Hard Inquiries Are Too Many? 

How do hard inquiries affect my credit score, and what is their impact on credit scores? 

Hard inquiries occur when lenders check your credit report before making a lending decision, usually when you apply for credit accounts such as a credit card or auto loan. Each hard inquiry can slightly lower your credit score for a short period. However, too many hard inquiries within a short time can be more detrimental, making it appear as if you are desperately seeking credit, which lenders may view as risky behavior.

How can I manage, minimize, or remove hard inquiries from my credit report? 

You can manage and minimize hard inquiries by being mindful of how often you apply for new credit. Regularly check your own credit report to keep track of the inquiries made. If you find any discrepancies or unauthorized inquiries, you can dispute them with the credit bureaus or directly with the credit card company or lender involved.

Who can provide guidance, advice, or information regarding the impact, management, and removal of hard inquiries on my credit report? 

Credit counselors, financial advisors, and some non-profit organizations specialize in credit management and can provide guidance on managing hard inquiries on your credit report. They can offer advice on disputing inaccurate inquiries and strategies to minimize the impact of legitimate ones.

Where can I find guidelines, information, or resources regarding the impact, management, and number of hard inquiries on my credit report? 

Guidelines and resources can be found on credit bureaus’ websites, financial blogs, and forums. These platforms provide information on how different types of inquiries, like those from a car loan application or credit card application, affect your credit and how to manage them effectively.

What are the consequences, strategies for recovery, and ways to avoid the negative impact of having too many hard inquiries? 

Too many inquiries can lead to a lower credit score, making it challenging to secure favorable credit terms in the future. Strategies for recovery include waiting for the inquiries to age off your report and focusing on positive credit habits like timely payments. To avoid negative impacts, limit the frequency of your credit applications.

What is the difference, and are there any similarities, between hard and soft inquiries?

A hard inquiry occurs when a lender checks your credit for a loan or credit application, while a soft inquiry happens during background checks or when you check your own credit. Both types of inquiries appear on your credit report, but only hard inquiries impact your credit.

A Word From CreditNinja on How Many Hard Inquiries is Too Many

CreditNinja always suggests researching lenders before submitting any type of financial inquiry. That way you can limit the amount of hard inquiries against your profile and protect your credit. Ready to learn more about managing your finances, creating a budget, and more? Check out the CreditNinja dojo for free articles, debt calculators, and other financial resources!  



  1. Average Credit Score In America – 2023 Credit Score Statistics | Upgraded Points
  2. Bankruptcy Filings Drop 6.3 Percent | United States Courts
  3. How Do Credit Inquiries Affect Your FICO Score? | myFICO

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