Does Checking Your Credit Score Hurt Your Credit?
Your credit score is a number assigned to you by Canada’s credit bureaus, and it’s based on your history of borrowing and repaying loans and credit cards on time. Banks, credit card companies and loan providers will check your credit score before they offer you a credit card or loan. Other lenders, like car dealerships, could also check your credit score before offering you financing on a new vehicle, for example.
Your credit score ranges between 300 and 900—the higher your score, the more creditworthy you are.
Does checking your credit score lower it?
The short answer is ‘no.’ The mere act of checking your credit score won’t hurt it. But there are other actions that will hurt it, and reading a bit more about the subject will go a long way toward keeping your score in good shape.
What is a soft credit check vs. hard credit check?
Essentially, a hard credit check is the kind that can lower your credit score, but a soft credit check won’t affect it.
While every time someone checks your credit score, it’s recorded as a ‘hit’ or ‘pull’ in your files, not every inquiry can be seen by everyone. Soft credit checks can only be seen by you and the person who made the original inquiry. This means that when a prospective lender looks at your credit file, they won’t see any of the soft credit pulls that have taken place, only the hard ones.
Basically, a soft credit check refers to any time someone reviews your credit for non-lending purposes.
What is a hard credit check?
A hard credit check is associated with someone looking for credit. It’s visible to anyone who checks your file in the future, and it doesn’t look good for your creditworthiness.
Credit card companies and loan providers run hard credit checks when evaluating applications for their cards and loans. It’s not recommended to apply for a lot of credit cards over and over, because every credit card application brings a hard credit check, which dents your creditworthiness a little.
How to minimize the damage of hard credit checks
At this point, you’re probably wondering how you can ever safely get a credit card without damaging your score. You’ll also probably need a mortgage at some point, which requires hard credit inquiries as well. But this is nothing to panic over.
The main thing to remember is not to have too many hard credit checks on file at once. If you’re in the market for a credit card, new car financing or a mortgage, it’s best to make all of the applications within a couple of weeks, so that they all show up as one set of applications rather than many hard credit hits.
You can minimize the risk of credit card rejection by only apply for credit cards that you actually need, and that you’re likely to be approved for. Check your credit score (soft check) before you apply for a credit card, so that you can be sure that your credit rating falls within the credit card company’s requirements. Certain credit cards—most notably the MBNA True Line Mastercard—also allow you to check the interest rate you could qualify for before you apply for the card. This service is categorized as a soft credit check, so it won’t harm your credit score for the future.