The difference between hard and soft credit inquiries.
Most people check their credit periodically, such as when they’re about to apply for a big loan, once a year, or every four months (like you should). But you may not realize that a whole lot of others are checking your credit – and probably on a more frequent basis. In fact, every time you apply for a credit card, submit an application for a student loan, take out a store discount card, or even apply for insurance or rent a new apartment, your credit is probably being pulled.
Those credit pulls also can ding your credit score, if not handled correctly. Sometimes, that’s inevitable, and other times it’s avoidable. But it’s important to understand the facts about hard and soft credit inquiries, or credit “pulls.”
In fact, only 26% of women and 31% of men know the difference between “hard” and “soft” credit inquires, or credit “pulls.”
So today, we’ll give you some fundamental information about credit inquiries, both hard and soft. Contact Nationwide Credit Clearing if you have further questions about credit pulls, and would like a free copy of your credit report and consultation with a credit expert!
Hard credit pulls:
Hard credit pulls only take place when you apply for new credit accounts.
Or, a hard pull will occur when one of your existing creditors decides to pull your credit. In fact, most creditors can access your credit any time, for any reason they deem, without needing your permission first.
Creditors commonly do this when they’re reviewing your account to consider an increase to your credit line.
Soft credit pulls:
Sofer credit pulls, however, can occur either with inquiries where the consumer voluntarily agreed to have their credit accessed, or other involuntary inquiries.
For instance, soft pulls usually take place when you’re applying for a new job, a cell phone account, trying to rent an apartment, etc.
Effect on credit score:
There is no one set rule for how credit pulls will affect your score. But, typically, hard credit pulls will only have a slightly negative impact on your credit score, possibly dropping your score a few points in the short term.
Typically, your FICO score can go down about 5 points per inquiry if you have your score pulled too much by the wrong vendors. The drop could be greater if you have few accounts or a short credit history without seasoned, positive factors to compensate.
In fact, the negative effect of hard pulls usually last only one year, but most of the damage disappears within the first 90 days.
Are all credit score pulls considered equal?
Since credit scoring is primarily a means of gauging the risk of default, consumers with high credit scores will suffer a little more damage from hard credit pulls. That’s because the credit algorithms consider the fact that they’re getting their credit pulled atypical, and more of a red flag.
So the higher your score to begin, the more damage a hard credit may do.
Additionally, unsecured credit inquiries, like you’ll find with personal credit cards, retail cards, and in-store accounts, will cause the most damage to your score.
When current creditors pull your credit:
We are certain that soft credit pulls have a negligible negative effect on credit scoring – or none at all. That’s the reason why most of your current creditors will only order soft credit pulls on your account, not hard pulls.
Current creditors usually also do a soft pull every month or so, although some check up on their consumers much more frequently.
Some credit pulls always act as hard inquiries, some are always soft injuries, and some can show up as either/or.
Hard pulls are most often found with:
• Applications for new credit cards
• Requests t activate a pre-approved credit offer (such as you receive in the mail)
• Applying for a new cell phone account and contract
Soft pulls are most often found with:
• Background checks by potential employers
• Your bank verifying your identity
• Initial credit checks by credit card companies that want to issue you preapprovals
Who can pull your credit, whether through hard or soft inquiries?
Credit card companies
Financing departments of retail stores
Auto dealerships financing departments
Cell phone companies
Child support agencies
Anyone with “Permissible Purpose,” as deemed by the Federal Credit Reporting Act.
Timing is everything with credit pulls:
Timing is so important when it comes to credit pulls. The more “bad” inquiries that appear on your report within a short time, the bigger hit to your score. For instance, if you apply for five new credit cards within a two-week period, it definitely is seen as risky to the credit bureaus, and your score will drop accordingly.
However, the credit bureaus do account for consumers who want to “shop around” for large and important loans, like mortgages, business loans, etc. Of course, shopping for the best rate on a single loan (not applying for multiple loans at once) means getting your credit score pulled several times within a short period, but the good news is that this practice won’t hurt your credit score.
In fact, the credit bureaus typically just count this group or batch of inquiries as one if they’re within a 30-day period (or a 45-day period with some credit scoring versions).
So, if you’re shopping around for the best rate on an important loan, try to contain all credit pulls to within a 30-day period to keep your score in good order!
Contact Nationwide Credit Clearing if you have further questions about credit pulls, and would like a free copy of your credit report and consultation with a credit expert!
Answering the top-10 Google searches about credit and credit scores
Google is by far the world’s biggest search engine, with about 63% of all search traffic and 30 billion inquiries every month. In fact, type in “credit score” and you’ll get more than 69 million results! While we won’t try to answer all of those queries, here are the top 10 Google searches about credit and credit scoring:
- How is my credit score calculated?
There are several versions of your credit score, but the most common is issued by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). While FICO keeps its credit scoring algorithms secret, we do know that the fundamental building blocks of any credit score are:
30% Credit utilization.
Your ratio of debt to available credit. It’s recommended you keep all of your debt balanced within 30% or less of your total available credit.
35% Payment history.
FICO and the other credit bureaus want to see that you’ve paid on time and in full every month, an important predictor of future payment behavior.
15% Length of credit history.
The longer your accounts have been open and in good standing, the better it reflects on your credit score.
10% Mix of credit.
A good mix of quality revolving accounts, mortgage debt, and installment debt, etc.
10% New credit.
Opening new accounts – or the wrong credit – is deemed risky and can lower your score.
- How much will a late payment hurt my credit score?
Since 35% of your credit score is based on your payment history, you always want to avoid paying any credit card or account late. Generally, if you do pay after the due date, your score will drop about 80-100 points. But you definitely don’t want to miss a payment for 60 days or even 90 days, which will cause serious damage to your credit score.
- What credit score do you need to buy a house?
If your goal is to buy a house, you’ll want to start with the mortgage process, and that means making sure your credit score is good enough to qualify for a loan, among other factors. While you’ll always have access to the best programs, terms, and the lowest interest rates with a great credit score (above 720, or even about 760 are considered “prime” scores), there are options for homebuyers with lower scores.
The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has a great loan program that allows you to put only 3.5% down and qualify with a credit score in the 600’s, or possibly even lower in some circumstances. However, it’s always a good idea to come talk to us about six months before you plan on applying for a mortgage so we can increase your credit score and save you money.
- Will it hurt my score if my credit is pulled several times while I shop for a loan?
When you apply for new credit cards or loans with multiple creditors at the same time, it may signal to the credit bureaus that you’re recklessly taking on new credit – an indicator of future default. Therefore, your credit score may drop with these “hard” credit inquiries.
But the credit bureaus also understand they most consumers want to “shop around” for the best rates and terms when they’re making big purchases, like mortgage or auto loans, and that means having your credit pulled more than once.
To make allowances for this common consumer practice, the credit bureaus don’t ding you a batch of inquiries, as long as they’re within a 30-day period or less. Just don’t overdo it, or have your credit pulled from different kinds of debts (credit card, retail, etc.) or it will signal to them that you’re desperate to take on new debt, and your score will drop.
- Why is it important to check my credit report often?
The news these days is filled with reports of data leaks and hacks, such as the recent one of Equifax’s database that saw 235 million records compromised. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime, and most of that sensitive financial information is obtained online. For that reason, you should be checking your credit report often to screen for accounts that have been opened in your name. Likewise, the credit bureaus make a lot of mistakes when it comes to credit reporting – which could impact your score. In fact, it’s estimated that 50% of all credit reports contain errors, duplicates, or misreported information!
- How long will a bankruptcy/foreclosure/judgment stay on my credit?
Most delinquent items will report on your credit for 7 years before falling off, but there a few exceptions:
Charge-offs stay on your report for 7.5 years from the first missed payment.
Chapter 7 bankruptcies remain for 10 years from the date filed.
Chapter 13 bankruptcies remain for 7 years from the date discharged or a maximum of 10 years.
Student loans can remain on your credit until they’re paid.
Foreclosures and short sales will probably report for the full 7 years, but the negative impact will diminish over time. But changes in the industry now make it possible for some people to buy another home in as little as 1-2 years.
If you’ve experienced one of these negatives, contact Nationwide Credit Clearing.com so we can start repairing your credit and get you on the track!
- What happens if my husband/wife or cosigner on a loan and the other person defaults?
When it comes debt responsibility among married couples, different states have different laws. Community property states (include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin) deem that you’re responsible for your partner’s debts if they were charged up during the marriage. Even if you get divorced, you’re both accountable for the debt, and it will show on both credit reports.
That’s also the case when you co-sign for a loan with someone else – the debt obligation is shared, but both parties are fully responsible. So if the other person fails to pay, or even misses a payment, your credit score will go down, and the creditor will pursue you, too.
- Why is a good credit score important?
A good credit score can save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on mortgage loans, credit card interest rates, car and student loans, and even insurance. Many employers are even now looking at credit reports when screening applicants!
- What is credit repair/How can credit repair help me?
Credit repair is a process where you try to clear up inaccurate, outdated, or other misreported negative items on your credit history so that your score will go up. Credit repair entails a formal procedure where we send dispute letters to the credit reporting agencies to challenge the validity of negative information. The credit bureaus are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires them to either fix the problem or respond with evidence that it’s true within a certain timeline. Either they will fix the inaccurate negative credit item, or, if they don’t have evidence or don’t respond in time, the item will be removed. Both outcomes help your credit score rise to where it should be.
Credit repair done through an experienced and trustworthy firm like Nationwide Credit Clearing can increase your score, remove incorrect information, and save you a lot of money in the long run.
- Do I have to pay to check my credit score?
According to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (the FACT Act), you are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report once each year from each of the three major credit bureaus by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. This will show your credit history, not your score, but at least you’ll be able to monitor your credit activity and make sure you’re on track.
For a more in-depth look at your credit score, credit report, and what you need to do to improve and save money, contact Nationwide Credit Clearing.com for a FREE credit report and consultation! We’re here to help you!
Three Common Credit myths
The media, newspapers, tv and the web are full of information, but sadly, most of the information regarding credit happens to be completely innacurate.
Below you will find 3 very common credit myths.
Credit Myth #1: “If I get one credit bureau to remove an item from my credit report, the rest of the bureaus will remove it just as well..Unfortunately, this is not the case. Each of the three bureaus are independent companies. They don’t automatically work together with each other when considering deletion of items on your credit report, the truth is that all 3 of them are competitors of one another. You will have to contact & work with each bureau separately to get any negative, outdated or incorrect items removed from your credit report. All this redundant work is a significant reason so many Americans consider using credit repair companies such as Nationwide Credit Clearing to help them with this lengthy and very complex process.
Credit Myth #2: “Your yearly income or salary plays a role in your credit score.” Believe it or not, the credit scoring models don’t take salary as a consideration in any way. They do not want to discriminate based upon wages or personal income, and because of this, you could have a high paying job, but still have a very poor credit score.
Credit Myth #3: “Including a consumer statement to your credit profile can make a large difference.” Unfortunately this does not make a difference in your credit scoring at all. To be quite honest, the reality is that there’s no point in adding any type of consumer statement mainly because if you’re in a dispute with the way an item is reported, you have the ability to, by law, add a statement. However, if you are able to get the item corrected or removed because of its inaccurate reporting, having that statement would likely reaffirm the fact that it should have ended up there in some way, shape, or form. So, it’s better to just not tell your personal story, because the likelihood of anyone reading it is slim to none.
Nationwide Credit Clearing
2336 N. Damen
Chicago, IL 60647
Toll Free: 877-334-3296