When you check your credit score, a notation to your credit report is made. But maybe you’re wondering if doing so will hurt your credit rating. In short, no. However, some credit checks, known as hard credit inquiries, can affect your credit score.
Experian Free Credit Score
Your Credit Score: FICO vs. Vantage Score
Before diving into how credit checks impact your credit rating, it’s important to understand how credit scores are calculated.
The two most prevalent credit-scoring models are FICO and VantageScore. FICO is the most widely used of the two – it’s currently used by 90 percent of creditors and lenders to make decisions.
FICO scores typically range from 300 up to 850 and are calculated using this formula:
- Payment history (which is 35 percent of your FICO score)
- Amounts owed (which is 30 percent of your FICO score)
- Length of credit history (15 percent of your FICO score)
- Credit mix (10 percent of your FICO score)
- New credit (10 percent of your FICO score)
VantageScores also range from 300 to 850. Here’s a breakdown of how they’re determined:
- Payment history (40 percent of your VantageScore)
- Age and type of credit (21 percent of your VantageScore)
- Percentage of credit limit used (20 percent of your VantageScore)
- Total balances (11 percent of your VantageScore)
- Recent credit behavior (5 percent of your VantageScore)
- Available credit (3 percent of your VantageScore)
What Are Credit Inquiries?
There are two types of credit inquiries – soft inquiries and hard inquiries.
Soft credit inquiries are generated when:
- You check your own credit report
- You apply for auto insurance (in select states)
- Your credit card issuer performs a review of your account
Hard credit inquiries result from:
- Credit line increase requests (varies by the credit card issuer)
- Applications for a credit card or loan products
- Applications for housing or service connections (in some instances)
What Kind of Inquiries Hurt Your Credit?
Soft inquiries do not impact your credit score.
Each time a hard inquiry is generated, your credit score will dip by a few points.
Why Hard Inquiries Affect Your Credit Score
Hard inquiries remain on your credit report for up to two years from the date they’re generated. After that, however, it only impacts your credit score for a few months, assuming you manage your other debt obligations responsibly and are no longer factored into your credit score after 12 months.
But if you submit several credit applications in a short period, your credit score could be significantly impacted. An exception applies for rate shopping mortgages and auto loans – several inquiries are only counted as one if done within a 14- to 45 day-window, depending on the credit-scoring model.
Experian Free Credit Score
How Often Can You Check Your Score Without Hurting It?
You can check your credit score as many times as you’d like without hurting it. In fact, doing so often is actually recommended to keep tabs on your credit health. Plus, you’ll have knowledge of any issues with your credit reports sooner than later and can file disputes promptly.
If you’re planning to apply for credit soon, it’s also best to check your credit score in advance. That way, you’ll avoid any surprises and can file disputes or work towards improving your credit score before applying to boost your approval odds and position yourself to qualify for better financing terms.
How to Check Your Credit Score Without Hurting It
Here are some ways to check your credit score for free.
Sign Up for a Credit Monitoring Service
Experian offers free credit scores to consumers, along with tips on how to improve their credit ratings and overall credit health. This service is a part of the CreditWorks Basic membership that also includes:
- Experian credit report monitoring to detect credit inquiries, new accounts, changes to your credit utilization and account balances, positive payment activity and dormant accounts
- Monthly Experian credit report and FICO Score updates
- Experian FICO score tracking and alerts any time your credit score or rating changes
- Personalized credit card and loan offers through CreditMatch
You’ll also get access to Experian Boost. This innovative tool gives your credit for on-time payments made to qualifying phone, utility and streaming service providers by adding them to your credit report. These include AT&T, Disney+, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Spectrum and Verizon. It’s free and can help you raise your FICO Score instantly.
Sign up today on the website—it only takes a few minutes of your time.
Free Annual Credit Report
Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to request a free copy of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. They’re available free of charge on an annual basis.
Free Credit Checks Online
If you’d prefer not to enroll in a credit monitoring service, visit Experian.com to request a free copy of your Experian credit report. The process is simple, and you won’t have to put your credit card on file.
Check with Your Lender
You can ask the lender for your credit score if you’ve recently applied for a credit card or loan. They’ll generally provide a document that includes your credit score and the factors that were considered when making a financing decision.