What’s a Hard Inquiry

visa card on brown wooden table

A hard inquiry, also known as a hard pull or a hard credit check

It occurs when a lender checks your credit report as part of a loan or credit card application. Here are key points of Hard Inquiry:

Purpose of Hard Inquiries:
  • Lenders use hard inquiries to assess the risk of lending money or giving credit.
Impact on Credit Score:
  • Hard inquiries lower your credit score a few points.
  • The effect is generally small, but many inquiries in a short period can have a more negative impact.
  • The effect lasts about one year, but the inquiry stays on your credit report for up to two years.

pen and paper- hard inquiry


Types of Credit Inquiries:
  • Mortgage, auto loan, credit card, personal loan, and student loan applications involve hard inquiries.
Consent Requirement:
  • Lenders need your permission for a hard inquiry.
Rate Shopping:
  • Multiple inquiries for the same loan type within a short period (usually 14-45 days) are often treated as one.
Checking Your Own Credit:
  • Reviewing your own credit is a soft inquiry and doesn’t affect your score.
Unauthorized Inquiries:
  • Dispute unauthorized inquiries on your credit report promptly, as they may indicate identity theft.
Additional Insights:
  • A single hard inquiry slightly lowers your score.
  • The effect is short-term, usually diminishing within a few months to a year.
  • Multiple inquiries in a short time can have a more significant impact, signaling financial instability.
  • Exceptions exist for rate shopping during specific loans.
  • The impact depends on your overall credit history and diminishes over time.
  • Credit scores consider various factors beyond inquiries.

In summary, hard inquiries may slightly lower your credit score, but the impact is manageable and diminishes over time. Thoughtful consideration of new credit applications is advisable.