What is a soft inquiry and how does it affect my credit?
Inquiries occur anytime a company decides to do a credit check, or “pulls your credit report”. These credit checks can involve hard pulls or soft pulls, also known as hard inquiries or soft inquiries.
Soft inquiries (“soft pulls”) are caused by either yourself pulling your own credit report, or by other companies running your credit for promotional reasons, such as ‘pre-approved’ credit cards applications. You may have used AnnualCreditReport.com, CreditKarma.com, Credit.com or any other service out there that allows you to pull up your credit report and score(s) for free. These inquiries are actually ‘soft pulls’ (inquiries) and do not cause any harm to your credit score.
These soft inquiries will not show up on your credit report, which is why they do not impact the score. If you’ve ever had letters sent to you with “pre-approved” stamped on the envelope, or even mentioned in the letter itself, you can be sure that they sent the letter based on a soft inquiry, which they most likely received from a marketing company. These companies can actually get mailing lists based on types of credit scores.
But just remember that once you open that letter, then go through with the application, you WILL receive a hard inquiry when they run your full credit report after you submit that application! The pre-approved application just means that you may have a better chance to qualify for whatever it is they’re offering.
So, just remember:
- Soft inquiries do not affect your credit
- Hard inquiries DO affect your credit
- Soft inquiries are made by you when you pull your own credit report, or 3rd parties who are looking for people who can be pre-approved for cards, loans, etc.
- Hard inquiries require your approval. These inquiries stay on your credit for 2 years, and can affect your credit for at least 1 year.