How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report?

ByJulija A.
September 15, 2021

Your credit reports play an important role in our everyday life: Credit card issuers and personal loan lenders check them regularly, but many cable providers, car renters, and landlords have started doing so as well. Most of them perform so-called “hard pulls,” which often harm your credit score. But how long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report, and how serious is this issue? Keep reading our guide to find out.

What a Credit Check Entails

You most likely know that a credit check is an examination of your credit history, usually conducted by your bank, lender, or a service provider. What you might not be familiar with is the exact information they look at.

One of their main concerns is looking into whether you make your payments on time. If you do, they’ll move on to reviewing your accounts or, in other words, assessing if you’re capable of handling additional financial obligations.

Seeing as how hard credit checks remain recorded on your credit reports, lenders will be able to find out just how many times you’ve been assessed in the last few months. Too many hard inquiries are a red flag, as this indicates that you aren’t a very desirable borrower.

Lastly, the person in charge of conducting a credit check on you will go over your public records. In this category, some of the things that you wouldn’t want showing up in your credit history include bankruptcies, foreclosures, as well as civil suits and convictions.

A Soft Credit Check vs. a Hard Credit Check

Although both soft and hard credit inquiries appear on your credit reports, a soft check doesn’t impact your credit score and, aside from a few exceptions, you are the only one who sees them in your file. Soft credit inquiries are reserved for prequalified insurance quotes and credit card offers, employers performing a background check on prospective hires, or you checking your own credit.

Hard pulls, on the other hand, are visible to anyone with access to your credit reports. They are implemented when you apply for a personal loan, mortgage, auto loan, apartment renting, student loan, or credit cards.

How Many Credit Inquiries Is Too Many?

The effects of one or two credit inquiries on your credit score won’t necessarily have to be significant. People that have no other negative marks on their credit reports might not even see a difference. However, the more of them you have, the higher the odds of a lender characterizing you as a high-risk client.

Even though every lender has their own criteria for determining how many inquiries are too many, six is usually considered unacceptable. That being said, some bad-credit lenders are willing to overlook even that many hard checks.

How Long Does a Credit Check Take?

Nowadays, most lending institutions have automatic systems to run credit checks for them. These systems can finish a check in less than five seconds. Of course, if you want to conduct a credit check on yourself, it will take a bit longer. First, you’ll need to request your report at annualcreditreport.com by entering your name, address, social security number, and date of birth in an online form. Once you take care of that, you should be able to access your report right away.

Third parties that are checking your credit without the help of an automatic system - e.g., landlords - may have to wait 2 to 10 days to get your reports.

By How Many Points Does a Hard Inquiry Affect Your Credit Score?

Hard checks of your credit history can potentially lower your credit score by 10 points. Fortunately, that happens exclusively in worst-case scenarios.

The type of loan you need an inquiry for also plays a crucial part in how your score is affected, along with the sheer number of inquiries. Namely, if you’re submitting applications for a specific kind of loan – such as a mortgage or a car loan – to several different lenders, FICO and VantageScore will register all those hard credit pulls as a single inquiry. If you want them to regard this sort of activity as an endeavor to find the best rate, the pulls need to be clustered together within a short time. The credit checks will be consolidated on your FICO score if they occur within 45 days, while VantageScore gives you 14 days to shop for rates. What’s more, the latest FICO and VantageScore calculation models ignore clustered mortgage and auto loan inquiries altogether.

On the other hand, if you apply for, say, multiple credit cards, hard checks won’t be grouped, and you’ll end up with individual marks on your credit reports for each and every one.

How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report? 

Hard checks will stay on your credit report for up to 2 years. Luckily, they don’t impact your credit score throughout that entire period. In most cases, your credit score should bounce back to its original state after a year or, in some cases, just a few months. 

As we’ve already mentioned, this isn’t something that you should be too concerned with if you’ve accumulated a small number of inquiries. Nevertheless, it’s still a matter worth looking into in situations when you’ve experienced a sudden credit score drop.

Removing Hard Inquiries to Increase Your Credit Score

As tempting as it may sound, removing genuine hard pulls from your credit reports isn’t going to help you boost your credit score. But if you suspect that at least some of the credit inquiries you’ve found aren’t legitimate, you should check to see if they were the result of a mistake or fraud.

Errors are straightforward to deal with: You just need to send a dispute letter to the credit bureau that issued the inaccurate credit report to start the credit inquiry removal process. Provided your complaint is valid, the correction shouldn’t take longer than 30 days to complete.

Those that have fallen victim to identity theft will, unfortunately, have a bigger problem to take care of. The main steps of managing account takeovers involve:

  • Contacting your bank to report the issue
  • Getting in touch with the appropriate authorities to inform them of any missing or stolen documents
  • Notifying the United States Postal Service if your mail has gone missing
  • Repairing your credit

In the “How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report?“ section of this guide, we mentioned that hard credit inquiries stop affecting your credit score after a year. However, you need to keep in mind that identity thieves can inflict quite a bit of damage, so illegitimate inquiries will most likely not be the only hurdle you will need to overcome. It may be a good idea to seek help from a credit restoration specialist.

These agencies have experts that know the most efficient strategies for rebuilding your credit. In addition to that, they can save you a lot of time and spare you from the stress of having to remove the hard inquiries and other negative items yourself. Of course, to get the best results in as little time as possible, you should work on improving your score alongside your chosen credit-restoration company. Identity theft is more common than you might think, so you shouldn’t feel ashamed of it or hesitate to ask for assistance in resolving the mess it has caused.

We are also aware that not everyone has the money to hire credit-boosting services. If you fall into this category, know that you can still take advantage of the free consultations that most of them offer.

How Long Does It Take for Your Credit Score to Go Up?

There is no one way to predict with certainty how long it might take your credit score to recover, or even by how much. Depending on the significance of the changes that appear on your credit reports, you could see improvements within several weeks or have to wait months.

What’s more, your score could decrease even while you’re repairing it. However, these occurrences are rare, and as long as you keep paying your bills on time and your debt low, your score should recover quickly.

FAQ
How many hard inquiries are bad? +

There’s no definitive rule stating the exact number of inquiries that are considered excessive, but most lenders will turn down applications from people with six or more hard pulls on their credit reports.

Can you remove inquiries from your credit report? +

Yes, you can remove inquiries from your credit report. However, you needn’t do so for inquiries you are responsible for, since your credit score probably won’t benefit from it anyway. You should remove credit checks recorded on your report by mistake or by an identity thief.

Does your credit score go up when a hard inquiry drops off? +

Usually, your score will not change in the slightest once a hard pull has dropped off your credit report. This is because, although credit checks stay on your report for two years, they stop impacting your credit score a lot sooner – after a year.

Is it true that after 7 years, your credit is clear? +

Most negative items are automatically removed from your credit reports after seven years, but this doesn’t mean that your credit will be completely wiped clean. Bankruptcies, for instance, can stay on your reports for up to 10 years. Also, your positive open accounts will remain recorded on them indefinitely. Read our “How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report?“ guide if you’d like to know more about credit scoring and credit checks in general.

About author

Albert Einstein is said to have identified compound interest as mankind’s greatest invention. That story’s probably apocryphal, but it conveys a deep truth about the power of fiscal policy to change the world along with our daily lives. Civilization became possible only when Sumerians of the Bronze Age invented money. Today, economic issues influence every aspect of daily life. My job at Fortunly is an opportunity to analyze government policies and banking practices, sharing the results of my research in articles that can help you make better, smarter decisions for yourself and your family.

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