Credit Report Q&A

What are inquiries and how do they affect my FICO score?

Credit inquiries are requests by a "legitimate business" to check your credit.

As far as your FICO® score is concerned, credit inquiries are classified as either "hard inquiries" or "soft inquiries" – only hard inquiries have an affect on your FICO score.

Soft inquiries are all credit inquiries where your credit is NOT being reviewed by a prospective lender. These include inquiries where you're checking your own credit (such as checking your score in myFICO), credit checks made by businesses to offer you goods or services (such as promotional offers by credit card companies), or inquiries made by businesses with whom you already have a credit account.

Hard inquiries are inquiries where a potential lender is reviewing your credit because you've applied for credit with them. These include credit checks when you've applied for an auto loan, mortgage or credit card. Each of these types of credit checks count as a single inquiry. One exception occurs when you are "rate shopping". That's a smart thing to do, and your FICO score considers all inquiries within a 45 period for a mortgage, an auto loan or a student loan as a single inquiry. This same guideline also applies to a search for a rental property such as an apartment. These inquiries are usually recorded by the credit bureau as a type of real estate-related inquiry, so the FICO Score will treat them the same way. You can avoid lowering your FICO Score by doing your apartment hunting within a short period.

Inquiries may or may not affect your FICO score. A FICO score takes into account only voluntary inquiries that result from your application for credit. The information about inquiries that can be factored into your FICO score includes:

  • Number of recently opened accounts, and proportion of accounts that are recently opened, by type of account.
  • Number of recent credit inquiries.
  • Time since recent account opening(s), by type of account.
  • Time since credit inquiry(ies).
  • A FICO score does not take into account any involuntary inquiries made by businesses with whom you did not apply for credit, inquiries from employers, or your own requests to see your credit report.

For many people, one additional credit inquiry (voluntary and initiated by an application for credit) may not affect their FICO score at all. For others, one additional inquiry would take less than 5 points off their FICO score.

Inquiries can have a greater impact, however, if you have few accounts or a short credit history. Large numbers of inquiries also mean greater risk: people with six inquiries or more on their credit reports are eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than people with no inquiries on their reports.

Was this article helpful? Give us feedback
Your FICO® Scores can impact your loan interest rates, terms, approvals and more. Learn more

Offers from our partners

Credit Cards Center
   

Advertiser Disclosure: The listings that appear on myFICO are from companies from which myFICO receives compensation, which may impact how and where products appear on myFICO (including, for example, the order in which they appear). myFICO does not review or include all companies or all available products.

Credit card ratings: Editors from CardRatings.com rate credit cards objectively based on the features the credit card offers consumers, the fees and interest rates, and how a credit card compares with other cards in its category. Ratings vary by category, and the same card may receive a certain number of stars in one category and a higher or lower number in another.

The ratings are the expert opinion of the editors from CardRatings.com, and not influenced by any remuneration their website may receive from card issuers.


myFICO is the consumer division of FICO. Since its introduction over 25 years ago, FICO® Scores have become a global standard for measuring credit risk in the banking, mortgage, credit card, auto and retail industries. 90 of the top 100 largest U.S. financial institutions use FICO Scores to make consumer credit decisions.

>> About myFICO
FICO Score - The Score that matters
Fair Isaac Corporation is a BBB Accredited Financial Service in San Rafael, CA
CONNECT WITH US Social Media Facebook Twitter Google+