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Understanding the Different Types of Credit Inquiries

When it comes to credit, there are various factors that can impact your credit score. One such factor is credit inquiries. But what exactly are credit inquiries, and how do they affect your credit? In this article, we’ll delve into the different types of credit inquiries, how they work, and what you need to know to maintain a healthy credit score.

Types of Credit Inquiries:

1. Soft Inquiries:

Soft inquiries, also known as soft pulls, occur when you or a lender checks your credit report for pre-approved credit offers, account monitoring, or fraud detection purposes. These types of inquiries are not considered applications for new credit and do not affect your credit score.

Examples of soft inquiries include:

  • Checking your credit score through a website or app
  • Receiving pre-approved credit card offers in the mail
  • A lender reviewing your credit report for account monitoring purposes

2. Hard Inquiries:

Hard inquiries, also known as hard pulls, occur when you apply for new credit, such as a credit card, loan, or mortgage. These types of inquiries indicate that you’re actively seeking new credit and can impact your credit score.

Examples of hard inquiries include:

  • Applying for a credit card or personal loan
  • Purchasing a car or home with financing
  • Opening a new credit account with a retailer or bank

Credit inquiries can impact your credit score in various ways. Here’s how:

1. Frequency of Inquiries:

The frequency of hard inquiries can indicate to lenders that you’re taking on too much new debt or are considered a higher risk. Multiple hard inquiries within a short period can negatively impact your credit score.

2. Length of Credit History:

Hard inquiries can also affect the length of your credit history. When you apply for new credit, the lender may perform a hard inquiry, which can reduce the average age of your credit accounts. This can negatively impact your credit utilization ratio and, in turn, your credit score.

3. Credit Utilization Ratio:

Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of credit you’re using compared to the total credit available to you. When you apply for new credit, your credit utilization ratio may increase, which can negatively impact your credit score.

4. Credit Mix:

Hard inquiries can also affect your credit mix. Applying for too many credit cards or loans within a short period can indicate to lenders that you’re relying too heavily on credit and may not be able to manage your debt obligations effectively.

How to Minimize the Impact of Credit Inquiries:

While credit inquiries are necessary for obtaining new credit, there are ways to minimize their impact on your credit score:

1. Limit Your Applications:

Limit your applications for new credit within a short period. Avoid applying for multiple credit cards or loans in a single day or week, as this can trigger multiple hard inquiries and negatively impact your credit score.

2. Shop Around:

When shopping for the best interest rates or terms on a loan or credit card, lenders typically allow for a grace period of 14 to 45 days, depending on the type of credit, during which multiple hard inquiries are treated as one inquiry for the purpose of calculating your credit score. This is known as the “rate shopping” provision.

3. Monitor Your Credit Report:

Regularly check your credit report to ensure accuracy and detect any fraudulent activity. You can request a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year through

4. Consider a Soft Inquiry:

If you’re unsure about your creditworthiness or want to check your credit score without affecting it, consider using a soft inquiry service. This won’t impact your credit score and can provide valuable insights into your credit history.


Credit inquiries are an essential aspect of the credit scoring process, but understanding their impact on your credit score is crucial to maintaining good credit health. By limiting your applications, shopping around, monitoring your credit report, and considering soft inquiries, you can minimize the negative effects of credit inquiries and ensure a healthy credit score. Remember, it’s essential to be mindful of your credit habits and take steps to protect your credit profile.