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Credit Myth #1: Checking Your Credit Report Will Hurt Your Score


One of the oldest and most believed credit myths is that simply checking your credit score will hurt it. That is not true. You need to regularly access your credit report so that you can better understand what you are and are not doing right and take the necessary measures to fix it. That said, there are certain types of inquiries, such as those from a lender, that may negatively impact your score.

Hard Inquiry Vs. Soft Inquiry

When you check your own credit score, an inquiry will pop up on your report. This type of inquiry is known as a "soft inquiry,” and it has zero effect on your score. When a lender checks your score, on the other hand, it is known as a "hard inquiry.”

Hard inquiries occur when a lender pulls your credit for the purpose of determining your creditworthiness. Hard inquiries do result in a hit to your credit score because it tells the bureaus that you intend to add to your credit. The impact of a hard inquiry is not very substantial, and you may see a five-point decrease to your score. However, on the VantageScore model, which is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the FICO scoring system, a hard inquiry may cost you as much as 10 to 20 points.

A lender should never pull your credit score without your consent. If you notice a dip to your score because of a hard pull you did not authorize, file a dispute with the credit bureaus and investigate further as to how the inquiry originated in the first place.

The Length of a Hard Inquiry Impact

A hard inquiry will stay on your report for two years. However, the effects of a hard inquiry do not last for nearly that long. One month of good credit behavior can easily undo the damage. However, if you apply for several credit cards or loans at once, you may have to work harder to get your score back up.

The bottom line is that checking your credit score yourself will not hurt it. In fact, keeping regular track of your score is a very credit-wise decision.

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