Consumers open up checking accounts for various reasons. A checking account enables you to make payments via checks which can help during tax season. Creating several checking accounts alongside a savings account can help you organize your finances. You can open checking accounts for investment dollars, vacation expenses, emergency funds, and other financial objectives. It’s no wonder why many people want to open a checking account or several, but some people wonder if their credit score will take a hit.
Your credit score is essential for your future. It impacts if you get approved for loans, how much you can get, and what you’ll pay in interest. This score still matters if you don’t borrow money. Landlords will look at a potential tenant’s credit history before handing them the keys. A higher credit score can reduce your monthly payments, while a lower credit score can restrict your options. Consumers are wary of any financial activities that can hurt their credit. We will explore how checking accounts impact your credit score and how to protect your credit history.
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Why Banks Check Your Credit
Banks check your credit anytime you apply for a loan or line of credit, including a credit card. Banks do not like when borrowers default on loans or fall behind on credit card debt. So they check your credit score to see how well you can manage debt. Banks interpret high credit scores as positive signs and will likely approve the applicant.
Many lenders have credit score minimums to get accepted for financial products. If you do not have a good credit score, lenders won’t review additional details, such as your bank account statements. A satisfactory credit score won’t guarantee that you get a loan or credit card, but it gives you a better chance of getting approved.
Soft vs. Hard Inquiry
Creditors can check your credit history through two methods. The soft inquiry gives lenders a basic overview of your credit report. It doesn’t ask for too much information and will not hurt your credit score. Lenders often use soft pulls for less substantial loans. Many credit builder lenders only conduct soft inquiries on your credit history.
Creditors use hard inquiries to assess applicants asking for riskier loans. Mortgages and auto loans are particularly risky for lenders since these loans require large principals. A bank wants to feel confident in giving you thousands of dollars (in some cases, well over $100,000). The hard inquiry provides the bank with more information on your credit report, but it comes at a small cost. Your credit score will decrease by a few points after a hard inquiry. A single hard inquiry won’t devastate your credit score, but if you apply for too many loans and credit cards simultaneously, those hard inquiries can make a meaningful dent in your score.
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How Opening a Checking Account Affects Your Credit Score
Creditors use your credit score to assess your debt management skills. If you stay on time with mortgage payments, credit card debt, and other financial obligations, your credit score will rise over time. Opening a checking account does not impact your ability to handle debt and will not affect your credit score. In addition, most financial institutions conduct soft credit pulls before letting you open a checking account. This soft inquiry will not impact your score.
A few banks may conduct a hard inquiry before letting you open a checking account. This process will reduce your credit score by a few points. You should ask your bank if they will conduct a hard inquiry before letting you open a checking account. If your bank commits to a hard inquiry, you can open a checking account with another bank and not worry about it hurting your credit. Opening a checking account doesn’t impact your credit score, but how you use this account can influence your credit score in the future. Here are some scenarios to consider.
Signing Up for Overdraft Protection
Overdraft protection offers some security if you overdraw your checking account. Some banks provide complementary overdraft protection, but others will conduct a hard inquiry before giving you this perk. A hard inquiry will hurt your credit score in the short term, but it shouldn’t cause panic.
Failure to Pay Overdraft Fees
The major credit bureaus prioritize payment history over the other credit scoring categories. Failing to pay overdraft fees can hurt your credit score. The bank may give your debt to a collections agency or report your missed payments which would further hurt your score. The bank can also close your checking account, another event that would hurt your score. Credit length makes up 15% of your credit score, with older credit giving you an edge.
Any of those results would hurt your chances of opening a checking account in the future. Delaying repayment has other consequences that can drip into other parts of your credit. Not paying overdraft fees can also restrict your ability to repay other debts. It’s an extra expense that can make life more stressful and hurt your payment history.
Closing Accounts with Negative Balances
If you delay long enough, financial institutions will close your account with a negative balance. However, a debt collection agency can still ask for the debt, and this closed account will stay on your credit report for up to seven years. Debt collection agencies will also report your debt to credit bureaus. Continuing to delay payments at this point will further hurt your credit score.
Being Overdrawn Without Protection
Getting overdrawn will not immediately hurt your credit score, even if you don’t have protection. The bank will not report your debt to a collections agency if you quickly pay the fee. It’s best to cover overdraws with cash instead of lines of credit. Using a line of credit to address the overdrawn account can lead to a hard inquiry.
Banks Making a Hard Inquiry
A hard inquiry will reduce your credit score by a few points. Lenders often conduct hard inquiries when giving loans and lines of credit. These financial products require borrowers who can repay debts. Since checking accounts do not put you in debt, most will not trigger hard inquiries. Instead, some banks will do a soft pull on your credit before letting you open a checking account. A hard inquiry won’t hurt your credit score by much, but applying for too many loans and lines of credit can meaningfully hurt your score.