Credit Check & Inquires

By Lauren Minifee

The Basics

What is an inquiry?

  • When you apply for credit, you authorize those lenders to ask or "inquire" for a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. When you later check your Credit Report, , you may notice that their credit inquiries are listed. You may also see listed there inquiries by businesses that you don't know. But the only inquiries that count toward your FICO Scores are the ones that result from your applications for new credit.

Does Applying for credit affect my FICO scores?

  • FICO's research shows that opening several credit accounts in a short period of time represents greater credit risk. When the information on your credit report indicates that you have been applying for multiple new credit lines in a short period of time (as opposed to rate shopping for a single loan, which is handled differently as discussed below), your FICO Scores can be lower as a result.  

How much will credit inquiries affect my score?

  • What to know about "rate shopping."Looking for a mortgage, auto or student loan may cause multiple lenders to request your credit report, even though you are only looking for one loan. To compensate for this, FICO Scores ignore mortgage, auto, and student loan inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won't affect your scores while you're rate shopping. In addition, FICO Scores look on your credit report for mortgage, auto, and student loan inquiries older than 30 days.

Generally, people with high FICO Scores consistently:

  • Pay bills on time.
  • Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit products.
  • Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.

Also, here are some good credit management practices that can help to raise your FICO Scores over time.

  • Re-establish your credit history if you have had problems. Opening new accounts responsibly and paying them on time will raise your FICO Scores over the long term.
  • Check your own credit reports regularly, before applying for new credit, to be sure they are accurate and up-to-date. As long as you order your credit reports through an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers, such as myFICO, your own inquiries will not affect your FICO Scores.

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