How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay On Your Credit Report?

Written By Eddy Ballesteros

Updated on: February 7, 2024
How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay On Your Credit Report?

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You've decided you want to get a credit card. You've researched, found the perfect card for you, and applied.

A few days later, you check your credit report only to find that your score has dropped. How long can hard inquiries stay on your credit report?

Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years, but they only impact your score for the first year.

So, if you're worried about a hard inquiry harming your credit score, you can sigh relief as it'll only affect your score for 12 months.

TL;DR: How long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report?

  • Hard credit inquiries can stay on your credit report for up to two years.
  • Many companies, such as dealerships, will pull multiple inquiries.
  • A soft pull does not hurt your credit file like a hard pull.
  • Always monitor your credit accounts using apps like Credit Karma or Credit Smart.
  • Credit inquiries only make up 10% of your credit score.

But you can still apply for new lines of credit whenever you need to buy something. 

Whenever you apply for a new credit card or loan, a hard inquiry is added to your report, which can ding your score slightly (usually less than five points).

Most credit repair companies will also tell you not to apply for multiple lines of credit simultaneously, as it can damage your score. If you need to open more than one line of credit, try to space out your applications by a few months. 

Wait Atleast 6-12 months before making a big purchase.

So, if you want to make a big purchase, such as a home or auto loan, you'll want to be careful for 12 months.

I've been through my fair share of financial difficulties and added too many hard inquiries, which looked terrible for my FICO score.

I learned simple credit repair tips that taught me how to remove inquiries and helped my overall credit score.

What Is a Hard Inquiry?

A hard inquiry is when a lender checks your credit report to determine whether or not to approve you for a loan or credit card.

An example would be dealerships, notorious for pulling multiple inquiries to get you approved for a car loan.

Hard inquiries can lower your credit score because they indicate to lenders that you're actively looking for new lines of credit, which can be perceived as financial risk.

The credit bureaus will add these negative items, affecting your credit scores and how lenders judge your financial stability.

That's why it's generally best to avoid opening new lines of credit within six months of applying for a significant loan, like a mortgage. 

What's The Difference Between A Hard And Soft Inquiry?

Hard vs soft inquiries

A soft credit inquiry is a type of inquiry that does not hurt your credit score.

Soft inquiries can occur when you check your credit report, when a lender checks your credit for pre-approval purposes, or when a business checks your credit to extend a line of credit. 

Side note: 

If you need a free credit report that uses the FICO scoring model, sign up with FreeAnnualCreditReport.com.

An easy way to view your credit inquiries is by using a free credit score app like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, or a paid credit monitoring service.

An app like Credit Karma or Smart Credit can let you view your credit history, including a copy of all your previous credit reports.

In contrast, a hard credit inquiry is an inquiry that can negatively impact your credit score. Hard inquiries occur when you apply for a loan or a new line of credit.

Lenders will pull your credit report to assess your risk as a borrower, slightly decreasing your credit score.

However, the impact of a single hard inquiry is typically minimal and will dissipate over time.

Therefore, if you plan to apply for new lines of credit, it is best to do so within a short period to minimize the impact on your credit score.

How Much Does A Hard Inquiry Affect Your Credit Score?

When you apply for credit, the lender will almost always make a hard inquiry on your credit report.

They want to see your credit history and understand your ability to repay the debt.

While a hard inquiry can ding your score, it's not a major factor. It typically only lowers your score by a few points. Also, the impact of a hard inquiry tends to fade over time.

So, if you're shopping around for a loan or credit card, don't worry about the effect on your score.

Just remember to keep your inquiries in a short period of time so that it only counts as one hit on your report.

If you have multiple hard inquiries on your credit file, this can hurt you during your credit application process.

Should I Be Concerned About Hard Inquiries?

If you're concerned about hard inquiries impacting your ability to get approved for new lines of credit, don't be.

They only affect 10% of your score, and the impact of a single inquiry will fade over time.

10% of your credit score

They only lower your score by a few points, and the impact dissipates after 12 months.

However, it's still important to be mindful of how many hard inquiries you have in a short period of time; too many can signify financial risk to lenders.

If you plan on applying for multiple lines of credit in quick succession (like if you're shopping around for a mortgage), it's best to space out your applications so that each one doesn't ding your score too much. 

Can You Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report?

As I explained earlier, a mortgage or car loan agent slaps on multiple hard credit inquiries, affecting your credit.

A single inquiry can reflect for up to two years but only damage your good credit score for a few months. After two years pass, your hard inquiries drop, so trying and removing them might not be completely worth it.

Either way, I'll still show you how to do this.

After reviewing your credit report for major credit bureau mistakes like hard inquiries, you might wonder: can I remove them myself?

The answer is yes. but it's not always recommended.

If the inquiry is legitimate, you can only remove it if the company does it in good faith. This can help you build credit and is completely okay to ask for.

However, if the inquiry was made without your permission or is otherwise inaccurate, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau to have it removed.

When I worked in a credit repair business, we used software to flag incorrect credit inquiries and send dispute letters. 

Wrapping Up

A hard inquiry is added to your credit report whenever you apply for a new line of credit—but don't worry, they only stay on your report for two years, and their impact on your score fades after 12 months.

So, if you're considering applying for a new loan, such as a student loan or a home loan, you'll want to look at all your other factors first.

This will be other credit scoring models and factors such as:

  • Payment history
  • Credit card debt
  • Income-to-debt ratio
  • Any identity theft before
  • Credit utilization
  • Credit history

So ensure you stay current on all your credit factors to ensure a healthy credit score.

About the Author Eddy Ballesteros

Welcome to Credit Plush! Credit is something I'll always enjoy writing about. I've helped many people improve their credit scores and start their credit repair businesses.

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