The short answer is no, checking your credit will NOT hurt your credit score. But there are inquiries into your credit that will affect your score so it’s important to know what those are and the difference between the type of inquiries that do affect your score and the ones that don’t.
Before we cover the types of inquiries that have an impact on your credit score, let’s review some of the basics of what your credit score is. In a nutshell, a credit score is like a rating you are given based on your history with credit (or lack thereof). There are three credit reporting agencies in America: Experian, Equifax and Transunion. The majority of lenders in the US will report to either one or three of them. The type of credit you’ve taken, the date the account was open and the records of each of your payments and when they were made (i.e. whether they were on time or not) are recorded in a credit report. Your credit score is a three-digit number that’s calculated based on your credit report and is often used by lenders to determine if you qualify for a credit product and how much interest you will pay. Your credit score can also be used by landlords, insurance agencies and some employers.
Credit Score Ranges
Credit scores range anywhere from 300 to 900. Generally speaking, these are how credit scores are categorized:
300 to 574 – Poor credit
575 to 659 – Below average
660 to 712 – Fair
713 to 740 – Good credit
741 to 900 – Excellent
With a higher score, you are more likely to be approved (and even pre-approved) for loans, lines of credit, credit cards, etc. You also have a better chance of getting a lower interest rate with a good or excellent score.
How Your Credit Score is Calculated
As mentioned above, your credit score is based on the information recorded in your credit report. This is the breakdown as to how your score is calculated:
35% of your credit score is based on your payment history
30% is based on credit utilization (the amount of credit you’re using divided by the amount of credit available to you)
15% is based on your credit history (how long you’ve had each account)
10% is based on your credit mix (the different types of credit accounts you have open)
10% is based on credit inquiries
This is probably why there is confusion around whether checking your credit will affect your score. Let’s clear up that confusion.
What Type of Inquiries Affect Your Credit
The two types of inquiries into your credit are known as soft inquiries and hard inquiries.
Soft inquiries are when you or someone else checks your credit report and/or credit score for non-lending purposes. This can happen if a company you already have an account with wants to pre-approve you for another credit account, if you are checking your report to make sure the information is accurate (which is a good habit to get into), or if you’ve applied to rent a home, for example. Soft inquiries do not affect your credit score.
Hard inquiries are done when you apply for credit cards, loans, lines of credit, mortgages, etc. Hard inquiries can lower your credit score, especially if you’re applying for multiple credit accounts in a short period of time. So if you’re looking at taking out some form of credit, it’s best to plan ahead and shop around before completing an application.