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Hard credit check definition

What is a hard credit check? A hard credit check is a type of inquiry that can lower your credit score. Here’s what you need to know about hard credit checks and how to avoid them.

What is a hard credit check?

A hard credit check is a thorough examination of your credit history, and is typically performed when you apply for a loan or credit card. Lenders use hard checks, also called hard pulls, to determine your creditworthiness—the likelihood that you’ll repay your loan or credit card debt.
Hard checks can stay on your credit report for up to two years, but they generally only affect your credit score for the first 12 months. And while multiple hard checks in a short period of time can ding your score, shopping around for the best loan or credit card rates is generally worth the short-term drop.

What are the consequences of a hard credit check?

A hard credit check is when a lender checks your credit report and inquiries are noted on your report. Hard inquiries can negatively impact your credit score and remain on your report for up to two years.
If you’re applying for a loan or credit card, the lender will most likely do a hard credit check. A hard inquiry is generated when you authorize someone — such as a lender, creditor or employer — to access your credit report. Hard inquiries appear on your credit report and may stay there for up to 24 months, although they typically fall off after one year.
Hard inquiries can negatively impact your credit score. They are typically recorded when you apply for new lines of credit, such as a loan or credit card, although other types of inquiries can also be considered hard inquiries. In general, the more recent and frequent the hard inquiries on your report, the greater the impact on your score.

How can you avoid a hard credit check?

There are a few things you can do to avoid a hard credit check:

  • Request a soft credit pull instead. This will give the creditor some basic information about your credit history without affecting your credit score.
  • If you’re shopping for a loan or credit card, compare offers from multiple lenders to see who is willing to give you a loan without a hard credit check.
  • If you’re applying for a job, ask the employer if they use hard credit checks as part of their hiring process.
    See also gross monthly income article, and article on soft credit check.

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