How to Remove Hard Inquiries

Hard inquiries can negatively impact your credit score. That’s why it’s a good idea to review your credit reports, look for false inquiries, and dispute them. Here’s what you should know about what hard inquiries are, how they work, how they can affect your credit, and how to remove them.

What is a hard inquiry?

A hard inquiry, or hard pull, occurs when people apply for new credit, such as loans and credit cards. It means that a lender or creditor has looked at your credit to determine if they should extend you an offer. A hard inquiry can inform them of how risky of a borrower you might be.

Hard inquiries vs. soft inquiries

There are several differences between a soft inquiry vs. hard inquiry. A hard inquiry can hurt your credit score, whereas a soft inquiry won’t have any effect on it. Hard inquiries often occur when you apply for loans and credit cards. Soft inquiries, on the other hand, are common with personal credit checks, pre-approved credit offers, and insurance applications.

How do hard inquiries affect my credit?

Hard inquiries can lower your credit score. This is because research shows that people who apply for new credit are riskier than those who do not. Too many hard inquiries over a short time period can imply that you’re looking for loans and credit cards that you might not be able to repay.

How long do hard inquiries stay on my credit report?

A hard inquiry will be taken off your credit report after two years. The good news is that over time, the negative impact of a hard inquiry won’t matter as much. As long as you practice responsible credit habits, you can recover from the credit drop relatively quickly.

Should I remove hard inquiries from my credit report?

Since hard inquiries can hinder your credit, it’s important to dispute any false hard inquiries you find on your credit report. By doing so, you can improve your credit and ensure you’re not getting penalized for inquiries that you didn’t initiate.

How you can remove hard inquiries from your credit report

Follow these steps to remove hard inquiries from your credit report:

1. Review your credit report

You can request free copies of credit reports on from the major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Carefully review each report.

2. Look for false hard inquiries

As you review each credit report, keep an eye out for false hard inquiries. You can request to remove a hard inquiry if you didn’t apply for a new credit account or authorize the inquiry.

3. File a dispute with the credit bureau

If you notice any false hard inquiries, file a dispute with the appropriate credit bureau. You can go through this process online on or mail your dispute. Don’t hesitate to look for sample credit dispute letters if you’re unsure of what to write.

4. Continue to check your credit score and report for errors

Your credit can change at any time. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check it on a regular basis and dispute errors as you find them.

How to improve your credit score after hard inquiries

If you have multiple hard inquiries that are lowering your credit score, these strategies can help you improve your score:

Make all your payments on time

Be sure to pay all your bills on time. These include your rent or mortgage, car payment, student loans, credit cards, and any other bills you have. Even one missed or late payment can wreak havoc on your credit.

Lower your credit utilization ratio

Your credit utilization ratio refers to the amount of credit you’re currently using compared to the amount of credit available. A lower credit utilization ratio can help your credit. To lower it, pay your balances off more than once a month, request higher credit limits, and don’t close credit cards.

Maintain a healthy credit mix

A credit mix is the types of credit accounts you have, such as mortgages, personal loans, and credit cards. If you have too many of one account type, consider diversifying with other types of accounts.

Limit hard inquiries in the future

Do your best to only apply for new credit cards and loans when you absolutely need to. This can reduce the hard inquiries on your credit and improve it at the same time.

Check your credit report regularly for false hard inquiries

Make an effort to check your credit report often and look for false hard inquiries. If you find any, dispute them with the right credit bureau as soon as possible. This can help keep your credit in good shape along with healthy financial habits, such as paying bills on time and lowering your credit utilization ratio.

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