Whether you need a mortgage to buy your dream home or an auto loan, or you’re shopping for a new credit card, you’ll need to see if you can get approved. This is where prequalification comes in. Prequalification is a great way to determine your chances of getting approved for a loan or a credit card.
You’re probably asking yourself, “does prequalification affect credit score?” The short answer is no. So read on to learn more about getting prequalified and ways to improve your credit score to increase your loan approval odds.
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What is Prequalification?
A prequalification is an estimate of how much loan or credit you can get from a lender. To get prequalified, you need to submit an online prequalification form through the lender’s website. You’ll also need to provide your personal information, including name, address, Social Security number, employment status, current income, and debt.
The lender will use the information to decide whether you prequalify or not. If you meet the requirements, you’ll likely receive a prequalification letter via email. You’ll then decide whether you want to move forward with the loan application. It’s important to note that lenders don’t verify information during the prequalification stage.
How Do You Get Prequalified?
Prequalification is a great initial step toward securing a loan or credit. The prequalification process varies by lender but generally follows a systematic procedure. You can expect the lender to as some of your basic information and your current financial situation.
Understanding your finances will help the lender determine your risk as a borrower and how much you can prequalify. Many lenders offer prequalification tools on their websites. All you need to do is enter your personal information, which will be used to determine which credit cards or loan products you’re eligible for. In addition, some online tools generate prequalification offers in a matter of minutes.
Prequalification vs. Preapproval: Is There a Difference?
The terms “prequalification” and “preapproval” are often used interchangeably by borrowers. However, while they might seem one and the same, they are different.
A prequalification is a non-verified estimate of how much you can get if you submit a loan application. The lender collects your basic financial information to gauge the amount they can loan you. Getting prequalified gives you a rough idea of how much you’ll likely be approved when you apply.
On the other hand, pre-approval is a more professional step, where the lender verifies your financial information and credit history in order to approve your loan or credit card. Documents required for approval often vary by lender but may include pay stubs, tax returns, and even your Social Security card. After the process, you’ll receive a pre-approval letter that contains the loan size and the interest rate you can get from your lender.
How Does Prequalification Affect Your Credit Score?
There are two common types of credit inquiries that creditors run when evaluating borrowers’ eligibility: a soft inquiry and a hard inquiry.
A soft credit inquiry, run at the prequalification stage, does not affect credit scores. This is because lenders sometimes base prequalifications only on the data on the first application, and some don’t even run credit checks. But if a creditor runs your credit, it will appear as a soft credit inquiry on your report.
When you apply for a loan or credit card, a hard credit inquiry, also referred to as a hard credit check, is run on your report. This type of credit inquiry is made during the preapproval and approval process to evaluate your credit risk.
Hard inquiries will have a negative effect on your credit scores, however, temporarily. Since hard credit inquiries affect credit scores, being preapproved by many lenders means multiple hard credit pulls, which may lower your scores further.
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Ways To Get Your Credit Score Ready to Get Approved for a Loan
If you’re looking to get a loan or credit card in the next few months, consider working on your credit score. This way, you can increase your odds of approval. Here’s how you can get your credit score ready for loan approval.
Review Your Credit Score
The first thing you need to do is to check where your credit score stands. There are several free credit scoring websites, but make sure you read the fine print of the terms before you sign up. You can also check with your credit card issuer or lender if you already have one.
In addition, review your credit report to see what’s lowering your scores. Late payments and collection accounts can significantly impact your credit score, so try your best to make on-time payments to improve your score.
One more thing to look for in your credit report is errors. Mistakes happen, and your credit report is no exception. If you find an error, you can dispute it and have it removed from your credit report before you apply for a loan.
Open a Credit Builder Account
Another effective way to get your credit score ready for loan approval is by opening a credit builder account. A credit builder is a company that can help you build credit if you have little to no credit history or fix your damaged credit. Self is an online credit builder to consider.
Self can help you build credit while saving money. All you need to do is to download their mobile app to open a credit builder account and choose a credit builder plan that fits your goals and budget. It’s important to note that you’ll pay an affordable non-refundable admin fee, after which you start making monthly installments for 12 to 24 months, depending on your plan.
You don’t get the loan proceeds up front; instead, you receive them at the end of the repayment term minus interest. Download Self’s credit builder app to build credit while saving money.
Pay Off Your Balances
If you have credit card balances, consider paying them down ahead of your application. Your credit utilization, an important credit scoring factor, measures the amount of revolving credit you’ve remained with. Paying revolving balances like credit card debt can lower your credit utilization ratio, thus helping your score.
Avoid Opening New Accounts
Applying for a new loan or opening several credit cards can hurt your credit score.
The only situation where opening new accounts will help you build credit is if you’re making on-time payments. Otherwise, opening new accounts and missing payments can take a toll on your scores. Generally speaking, steer clear of opening new accounts months leading to your loan or credit card application.
Pay Your Bills Early
Late payments will hurt your credit scores. Remember, lenders always want to see if you can make your monthly payments on time, so make sure you pay your bills early to increase your chances of approval.
If you tend to forget, you may want to set automatic payments or reminders when your bills are almost due. On-time payments will help improve your credit scores.