Here’s Why Checking Your Credit Score Doesn’t Hurt Your Credit

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It’s time for some myth bustin’.

Does checking your credit score hurt your credit?

The short answer: No.

The longer answer… keep reading.

Let’s Talk About Hard and Soft Inquiries

An inquiry is, well, an inquiry. Someone — or something, like a business — is inquiring about your credit.

There are two types of inquiries: hard and soft. The former will affect your credit score, whereas the latter will not.

Yup, you guessed it. Checking your own personal credit report is a soft inquiry. Therefore, it will not hurt your credit score. (You can get your credit score for free here.)

Rod Griffin, director of public education at Experian, says checking your own credit score will result in an inquiry posting on your report. That way, you can see when you’ve checked your credit. But, he assures the world, no one else sees it — only you.

Other soft inquiries result when existing lenders review your account, when you apply for a pre-approved credit card or when a potential employer checks your report.

On the other hand, you have hard inquiries, which will affect your credit score.

“A hard inquiry is the result of your application for credit or other services,” Griffin explains. “For a hard inquiry to be added, you have to apply for something, which includes a car loan, new credit card, mortgage loan, a new lease agreement, etc.”

A hard inquiry, Griffin says, represents risk — potential new debt. That’s why it’ll typically lower your credit score five to 10 points.

However, once it becomes clear you’re making timely payments on that new credit, your score will bounce back within a month or two.

Also note that hard inquiries do not result from shopping around for the best interest rates — whether for a personal loan, student loans or refinancing option.

The same goes with mortgages and auto loans. Your credit scoring agency will detect you’re shopping around in a short amount of time and will simply recognize it as one hard inquiry if you do apply.

Again, remember: Only you can authorize a hard inquiry. If you see something you haven’t authorized on your credit report, file a dispute.

As always, we suggest keeping regular tabs on your credit report through a free service like Credit Sesame.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She loves checking her credit score.