Soft Inquiries: What They Are and Do They Matter?

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Updated: 20th Jan 2021
Written by Kim Pinnelli
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October 27, 2020
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If someone pulls your credit, it’s an inquiry, but it’s not always as bad as you think. Hard inquiries hurt your credit score slightly, but not enough to worry about. And soft inquiries are NOTHING to worry about, they do no harm at all.

Here’s why.

What is a Soft Inquiry?

Every time someone pulls your credit, including yourself, it’s an inquiry – someone is asking about your credit profile. There’s a big difference between a hard and soft inquiry, though.

A soft inquiry doesn’t hurt your credit. It doesn’t even show up on your credit report.

Whoever pulled it (more on that below) doesn’t intend to lend you money, at least at this point. Credit pulls don’t mean there’s an intent to lend you money, believe it or not.

Soft Inquiry Examples

Soft inquiries happen all the time, often behind the scenes. You don’t have to approve them, but you’ll know when they occur.

Here are some great examples:

  • You pull your own credit on a site like Experian
  • A credit card company pulls your credit and sends you a pre-approved application
  • A potential employer pulls your credit to determine if they should hire you

None of these situations includes lending you money, at least right now. The credit card pre-approval may result in lending you money down the road, but for now, it is just a pre-approval.

When you formally apply for the credit card, they will then do a hard credit pull, and that is different.

How Does a Soft Inquiry Work?

Soft credit inquiries only occur when you or someone else checks your credit report but not because you applied for credit.

Soft inquiries do not hurt your credit score, and sometimes they don’t even show up on it. Whether or not it does depend on the credit bureau and its rules.

Because the inquiry did not result in a new loan, though, no one will see them except you if you pull your credit report.

Can You See Soft Inquiries on Your Credit Report?

You may see soft inquiries on your credit report if you pull your reports from www.annualcreditreport.com. You have free access to a credit report from each bureau annually.

This year, however, they are offering free weekly access to everyone until April 2021.

Experian also offers free monthly access to your credit report. It’s a good idea to pull all three reports at least annually, though, since the inquiry only shows up on the report pulled.

So if a credit card company pulled your TransUnion credit, for example, you would not see it on your Equifax or Experian credit report.

Pulling each of the three bureaus annually is a good idea not only to check the inquiries but to ensure all other information is correct and fair.

Always dispute any issues you find with your credit report to the reporting bureau right away, including inquiries that do not belong to you or are incorrect.

How Long Does a Soft Inquiry Stay on Your Credit Report?

All inquiries remain on your credit report for two years, but there’s a difference with soft inquiries.

First, no one sees them but you. You don’t have to worry about a future lender assuming you took out a bunch of new credit when you didn’t.

They will not know who pulled your credit for credit card pre-approvals, employment checks, or insurance rates.

Can You Remove a Soft Inquiry from Your Credit Report?

If you find soft inquiries that aren’t correct, you could dispute them, but they don’t affect anything.

If it makes you sleep better at night, you can write to the credit bureau reporting the incorrect information and ask for removal.

Provide proof of why you think the inquiry is incorrect. If the credit bureau finds the proof you provided accurately, they will remove the inquiry.

But is it necessary?

Probably not. No one sees the inquiry but you.

If you are trying to raise your credit score, then try Experian Boost. It is a FREE way to increase your score by 13+ points or more.

Learn More: Experian Boost Review

Should You Worry About Soft Inquiries?

Worrying about soft inquiries is like worrying about something you can’t change. They don’t hurt your credit – they don’t affect it at all.

No one sees them either. Let’s say you apply for a new mortgage through LendingTree, but two weeks ago you checked your own credit and received a couple of credit card offers in the mail.

The only inquiry that will show up on your credit report and affect your score is the mortgage application inquiry.

Do Soft Inquiries “Fall Off” Your Credit Report?

Like hard inquiries, soft inquiries eventually fall off, but it usually takes two years. Again, because no one will see them, they really aren’t there. You will see them when you pull your credit report, but that’s about it.

Wrapping Up: What Really is a Soft Inquiry

Soft inquiries are nothing to worry about even if you’re officially applying for new credit soon. No one knows about the inquiries except you, and you may even be one of the inquiries.

While you should limit all inquiries on your credit report, there’s not much you can do about soft inquiries, and since they don’t hurt your credit, they are harmless.

However, if you are looking for ways to improve your credit score, then credit repair is an option.

Expert Credit Resources: 

Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli
Kim is a personal finance expert with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been freelance writing for 13 years for a number of large publications. Kim thoroughly enjoys helping people take charge of their personal finances.