A lender requests a credit report from a credit bureau whenever you apply for credit. This inquiry (or “credit pull”) then appears on your credit report and stays there for two years – potentially impacting your credit scores. However, some inquiries are more important than others. There are two types of credit inquiries: soft and hard.
Soft inquiries happen when a lender pulls your score without you directly applying for a loan and do not impact your credit scores. A soft pull often results in a credit card offer or pre-approval notice that a lender might send you via mail. Soft inquiries also occur when you request your own credit report. They will remain on your report for two years but won’t impact your credit scores – and can only be seen by you.
A hard inquiry appears on your report if you allow a lender to pull your credit when applying for a loan or credit account. Hard pulls will remain on your report for 24 months but when it comes to calculating your FICO® Score, hard inquiries only impact your score for one year. Multiple inquiries in a short period of time may affect your FICO® Score more significantly, but over time, the impact of each pull is reduced.