One of the factors that determines your credit score is the number of credit inquiries on your credit report. You will see a credit inquiry on your report every time you apply for a new loan or line of credit. The general advice that personal finance experts often give is to not have “too many” credit inquiries. But how many is too many? We’ll explain everything you need to know about the ideal number of inquiries and other factors that determine your credit score.
What is a credit inquiry?
A credit inquiry is a record of a request of your credit report. Any time a creditor or lender pulls your credit report, this is called a credit inquiry. This is how they determine whether or not they will approve you for a loan or credit card. There are two different types of credit inquiries: hard inquiries and soft inquiries.
A hard inquiry is when the creditor or lender pulls your credit report after you apply for a credit card or loan, whereas a soft inquiry is when you check your own report or credit score. If an insurance company pulls your credit report for a quote or an employer does a background check, it also counts as a soft inquiry. Soft inquiries do not hurt your credit score. However, a hard inquiry can drop your credit score by a few points. This is why you should not have too many credit inquiries in a given time period. These inquiries stay on your credit report for about two years.
How many credit inquiries is too many?
As a general rule of thumb, you should only apply for new credit when you need it. Our credit counseling advice is to try to keep your credit applications to a minimum. Having more than a couple of inquiries a year can be red flag to lenders. This is because it may seem like you’re overly reliant on credit cards if you keep applying for them. However, if you’re shopping around for the best mortgage rates, it may be a good idea to apply to multiple lenders. As long as you do this within a 45 day window, this will likely not impact your credit score.
Other factors to consider
Credit inquiries only account for a small percentage of your overall score. There are several other factors that make up your credit score. These include:
- Payment history (35%)
- Credit utilization rate (30%)
- Length of credit history (15%)
- Credit mix (10%)
- New inquires (10%)
As you can see, payment history and credit utilization rate are the two most important factors in determining your credit score. New credit inquiries only account for 10% of your total score. For this reason, if you’re trying to improve your credit score, it’s more important to prioritize paying on time, keeping credit card balances low, and paying down existing debt. You should still keep the less significant factors in mind, but don’t focus on them too much.
If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session with us today!