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How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay On A Credit Report?

Published October 17, 2022
3 min read

Key Points About: When Hard Inquiries Fall Off Your Credit Report

  1. A hard inquiry appears on your credit report when a lender views your credit report after you apply for a new line of credit.

  2. Unlike soft inquiries, hard inquiries can affect your credit score.

  3. Hard inquiries may stay on your credit report for up to two years.

When you apply for credit, such as a new credit card or a home mortgage loan, the lender will request to review your credit report. This is what’s called a hard inquiry, or credit inquiry, and it can impact your credit. So how long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report before they fall off, and how much do they affect your credit score?

What are hard inquiries?

A hard inquiry is when a lender pulls your credit report after you’ve applied for a line of credit, such as for an auto loan, a new mortgage, or a new credit card. A hard credit inquiry may impact your credit score, but you don’t necessarily have to worry. In most cases, a hard inquiry won’t cause a significant change to your credit score and may not stay on your credit history for very long.

The difference between hard inquiries and soft inquiries

While hard inquiries may affect your credit score, soft inquiries will not. A soft inquiry occurs when you or a company check your credit report, but you haven’t applied for credit. For example, a soft inquiry can occur when you pull your own credit report to review your credit score, you receive a promotional credit card offer, or the IRS verifies your identity to issue your tax refund. In these cases, a soft inquiry appears on your credit report, but does not affect your credit score.

Does a hard inquiry affect your credit score?

A hard inquiry may affect your credit score. According to FICO, credit inquiries may impact your FICO® Score by no more than five points if you have good credit.

Even though each hard inquiry may affect your credit score, there are circumstances where many hard inquiries within a period of time will not compound on one another to have a large impact on your score. For instance, if you’re currently searching for an auto loan or home mortgage loan, and you’re applying to several creditors to find the best rate for you, you should aim to keep your applications within a certain period of time (usually 14-45 days total). When you do this, the credit scoring models that credit reporting bureaus use will usually count all of those inquiries as one, so they won’t appear as multiple hard inquiries.

It’s important to note that the same can’t be done when you apply for credit cards or personal loans: no matter the time frame, each application will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report. Keep this in mind when applying for these types of credit.

How long do hard credit inquiries stay on your credit report?

Generally, hard inquiries stay on your credit report for up to two years, but your credit score will usually only factor in hard inquiries posted in the last 12 months.  You can request a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year. If you see a hard inquiry you didn’t authorize on your credit report, you can dispute it with the credit bureau, and they will investigate and possibly remove it.

Reducing the impact of hard inquires

While hard inquiries can affect your credit score, you can take steps to counteract the negative impact. For example, if you are shopping for home or auto loans, try to group multiple applications into a short timeframe so that they count as one hard inquiry in credit score calculations.

You can also ease the negative effect of a hard inquiry on your credit score by staying on top of your credit score in other ways. For example, making on-time payments and lowering your credit utilization ratio can have a positive impact on your credit score.

Hard inquiries are a way for lenders to review your credit report when you apply for a loan. Knowing what a hard inquiry is and how it affects your credit score is the first step to making sure you know what the impact will be and how long a hard inquiry lasts on your credit report.

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