What is a Soft Credit Check vs. Hard Credit Check?

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Soft Credit Checks

A soft credit check does not negatively impact your credit score. A lender makes a soft credit inquiry in order to retrieve your FICO score along with the other information shown below. When an employer checks your credit, for example, this would typically be a soft credit check. Because soft inquiries do not impact your credit score, it is easier to apply for a personal loan and compare rates from a company like Prosper or any of the others on our list of personal loan companies without a chance of having multiple credit checks showing up on your credit report.

Hard Credit Checks

Typically, when you apply for a home mortgage, for example, the bank will make a hard credit check on your credit. This hard credit inquiry will show up on your credit report and could therefore negatively impact your credit (FICO) score for a certain time period. Soft Credit Checks on the other hand do not show up on your credit report and therefore do not impact your credit score. See what goes into my FICO Score?

What to watch for

Some lenders will do a Soft Credit inquiry when they initially pre-approve you, but then will do a hard inquiry when you accept the loan. This is normal. However, they are responsible for notifying you before they do a hard credit check, so that there aren’t surprises. Just key an eye out for this if you are shopping around. If you intend to accept the loan, then having a hard credit check can be expected.

1 Comment
    • Jamie
      May 05, 2016 23:15 pm Reply

      Thanks for explaining this. Many of the online lenders say that their credit check won’t impact my credit and others mentioned a “soft pull” but I never understood what this really meant. Makes sense now.

      I wonder why for some mortgages they do hard credit pull at first instead of a soft credit check.

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