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 consumers 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.
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 score altogether.
How Many Hard Inquiries Are Too Many Credit Inquiries?
Multiple credit inquiries affect credit. 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.
Generally, a single inquiry can take up to five points off your credit score. So, while you may not have to worry about one additional credit inquiry affecting your score too much, be aware of how often you apply for multiple credit cards or other new credit lines. Frequently applying for many new credit lines can become a dangerous habit if left unchecked for too long.
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 Effects My Credit Score?
There are typically five major financial categories that make up credit scoring models used by the three major credit bureaus. Check out more info on those categories, and how they affect credit reports, below.
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 reports are:
- Savings accounts.
- Student loans.
- Payday loans.
- Opening an account with a credit card issuer.
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 credit reports.
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.
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 or 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 score, 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.
While you want to avoid habitual impulse purchases, spending money is still a part of maintaining healthy financial habits. Be conscious of how you spend your money to avoid overspending and putting yourself in debt.