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Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries

Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries

The essential difference between a hard inquiry and a soft inquiry is whether or not you gave the lender permission to check your credit report.

Generally speaking, if you let a lender scrutinize your credit report, it’s a hard inquiry. If a lender or bank peers into your credit report without your knowledge or permission, it’s a soft inquiry.

As far as your credit score is concerned, soft inquiries are harmless and will mostly go unnoticed. Hard inquiries, however, can leave a mark on your credit report, especially for anyone rapidly applying for credit in a short time span.

Common hard inquiries

  • Mortgage applications

  • Auto loan applications

  • Credit card applications

  • Student loan applications

  • Personal loan applications

  • Apartment rental applications

Common soft inquiries

  • Checking your credit score on Credit Karma

  • “Prequalified” credit card offers

  • “Prequalified” insurance quotes

  • Employment verification (i.e., background check)


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