Soft vs. Hard Credit Checks

When lenders or credit card companies check your credit score, they may perform one of two credit inquiries: a hard credit check or a soft credit check. A hard credit check is when a lender that you applied for a loan from pulls your credit report.

This is different from a soft credit check, which is when a lender inquires about your credit report without pulling your report. Here’s a closer look at the differences between soft and hard credit checks.

What is a soft credit check?

A soft credit inquiry or soft credit check typically occurs when a lender or credit card company pulls your credit report on your behalf when pre-approving you for a loan or credit card. They may do this with or without your knowledge. A soft credit check won’t impact your credit score and will only be visible to you.

What is a hard credit check?

A hard credit inquiry or hard credit check may occur when a lender pulls your credit to determine whether or not to extend you a loan or credit card that you applied for. This will appear on your credit report and can negatively impact your credit score in the short term. Anyone who pulls your credit will be able to see hard credit checks.

Examples of soft and hard credit checks

To further explain a soft credit check vs. hard credit check, here are some examples of each.

Soft credit inquiry examples

Soft credit checks are typical with the following:

  • Credit card offers
  • Insurance quotes
  • Background checks
  • Employment verification

Hard credit inquiry examples

Hard credit checks usually happen when you apply for products such as:

  • Personal loans
  • Car loans
  • Student loans
  • Mortgages

Difference between hard and soft credit checks infographic

Differences between soft and hard credit inquiries

A hard credit check may affect your credit scores and stay on your credit reports for about two years. On the contrary, a soft credit check won’t impact your scores. In addition, a hard credit inquiry will be visible to everyone while a soft credit inquiry will only be visible to you.

The bottom line: manage your credit inquiries

Since multiple hard credit inquiries can have a negative effect on your credit score, don’t apply for too many credit cards or loans in a short time frame. If you don’t have the best credit but need to borrow money, you can still get approved for an Advance America loan.

From payday loans and installment loans to title loans and lines of credit, we offer a variety of financial products to help you cover expenses. We accept borrowers with all types of credit scores, so you can still get approved if you have poor or fair credit. In most states, applying for a loan doesn’t impact your FICO score. You can apply online and receive your money within 24 hours or visit a store to get money right away.

The Advance America advantage

Since 1997, Advance America has helped millions of hardworking people with a variety of financial solutions including Payday Loans, Online Loans, Installment Loans, Title Loans and Personal Lines of Credit.

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