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How Many Hard Credit Inquiries Are Too Many?

Last Updated: March 10, 2024
3 min read

Key points about: hard credit inquiries

  1. Any hard credit inquiry may alter your credit score and having multiple hard inquiries in a short time may increase this likelihood.

  2. Hard inquiries may influence your credit score because it means you’ve applied for credit, and lenders may consider applications for multiple credit cards within a short time period as an indication that you’re a risky borrower.

How hard credit inquiries may affect your credit score

Applying for a credit card, home loan, or auto loan typically results in a hard credit inquiry, which is when the lender requests a copy of your credit report to evaluate the risk associated with your credit file. But, if you’re shopping around for the best credit cards or car loan, can too many credit inquiries in a short time affect your credit? The short answer is yes, but it depends on things like how many inquiries a credit bureau receives for you in a short period of time, and the type of inquiry.

What is a hard inquiry vs. a soft inquiry?

Credit inquiries can have an effect on your credit score, but not all inquiries are the same, and it’s important to know the difference.

  • Soft Inquiry. Soft inquiries will not affect your credit score. A soft inquiry (sometimes called a “soft credit pull” or “soft credit check”) is a review of your credit report that isn’t associated with an application for credit. When a credit card issuer offers prequalification, for example, they usually conduct a soft credit inquiry.
  • Hard Inquiry. A hard inquiry (sometimes called a “hard credit pull” or “hard credit check”) is a review of your credit report that’s associated with an application for new credit. This type of inquiry will affect your credit score.

Did you know?

According to FICO1, each hard credit inquiry can have a small impact on your FICO® Score, and many inquiries over a short time period can have a greater impact on your credit score than just one.

The overall impact to a credit score depends on the situation and credit scoring model, but, in general, FICO states that a single inquiry may take less than five points off a FICO® Score (assuming it’s a hard credit check).

So, if you’re trying to open multiple credit cards or other new credit accounts in a short period of time (like a mortgage, personal loan, or a car loan), your FICO® Score will likely be affected because it represents that you may be a greater credit risk than before.

How long do hard inquiries last?

Each hard credit check remains on your credit report for two years, but your FICO® Credit Score only considers the last 12 months.

Not everyone will be affected by a multiple credit inquiries in the same way, so it’s important to keep track of how many times you’ve applied for credit in the past two years to potentially reduce the risk of your application being rejected.

See if you’re pre-approved with no harm to your credit score2

Hard credit inquiries can affect your credit, but typically the impact to your score will be minimal for a single hard credit inquiry. But if you’re applying for many different types of credit, rate shopping to find the right credit card issuer, or applying for credit too often, that can have a greater impact on your credit history. If you’d like to request your credit report for free to review your credit score and how many hard inquiries you have, go to

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  1. FICO® Credit Score Terms: FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

    Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac are not credit repair organizations as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac do not provide “credit repair” services or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history or credit rating.


  2. There is no hard inquiry to your credit report to check if you’re pre-approved. If you’re pre-approved, and you move forward with submitting an application for the credit card, it will result in a hard inquiry which may impact your credit score. Receiving a pre-approval offer does not guarantee approval. Applicants applying without a social security number are not eligible to receive pre-approval offers. Card applicants cannot be pre-approved for the NHL Discover Card.

  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.