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4. Number of Inquiries

When lenders and others ask a credit reporting agency for your credit report, it is recorded as an inquiry. This usually happens when you apply for credit.

It is normal and expected to seek credit every so often. But if there are too many inquiries on your credit report, lenders may be concerned. It can seem like you are desperately seeking credit or that you are trying to live beyond your means without the ability to pay back the money you want to borrow.

“Hard hits” versus “soft hits”

Inquiries that are recorded on your credit report and count toward your credit score are sometimes called “hard hits.” Anyone who views your credit report will see these inquiries. An application for a credit card is an example of a “hard hit.” Rental and employment applications may be treated as “hard hits”.

“Soft hits” are the opposite. Only you can see “soft hits.” These inquiries do not affect your credit score in any way. Examples of “soft hits” include:

  • requesting your own credit report
  • businesses asking for your credit report to update their records about an existing account you have with them. They do this to see whether you qualify for promotions, credit limit increases and so on.

Will shopping around for a car or mortgage hurt my score?

When you are shopping around for a car or a mortgage, try to do it within a two-week period. All inquiries related to auto or mortgage loans made during this time are usually combined and treated as a single inquiry.

Tip to improve your credit score

Limit the number of times you apply for credit in a short period of time. It is a good idea to seek credit only when you really need it.