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Hard Inquiry vs. Soft Inquiry: What it Means?

Are you thinking about applying for a loan or credit card? You may have noticed that there are two inquiry types: hard inquiry vs. soft inquiry.

If you’re confused, don’t feel bad as many others have asked the same question. In this article, we discuss what hard and soft inquiries are, their impacts on your credit score, and how to keep track of them.

What is an Inquiry?

Inquiries refer to any time a lender looks at your credit to determine whether you qualify for a loan or credit or not. Hard inquiries impact your credit score by lowering it by a few points. Inquiries usually show up on your credit report.

What is a Soft Inquiry?

Soft inquiries occur when a lender requests to see your credit reports. You can think of soft inquiries as pre-approval: they don’t hurt your credit and may provide the lender with more information about what kind of offers you may be eligible for.

Since soft inquiries don’t impact your credit score, they don’t lower it as hard inquiries do. One way to tell the difference between a hard and soft inquiry is that hard inquiries always show up as “Paid” at the end. This is not true for soft inquiries.

What is a hard inquiry?

Hard inquiries are negative credit events, meaning they can cause your credit score to drop a few hundred points.

A hard inquiry is the result of an application you’ve submitted for some type of credit or service that involves a review of your credit report.

Hard inquiries also have the potential to stay on your credit report for around two years before dropping off.

They can be very damaging if more than one appears at once on any given credit report but otherwise aren’t likely to affect scores too much unless there are many on file from consecutive periods of time.

How to Track Inquiries

It can be difficult to keep track of all the different kinds of inquiries there are, so we recommend using apps that categorize and separate them in a way that makes sense to you.

There are also free websites that will show you both inquiries and your credit score at the same time.


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