How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report?

Posted by Frank Gogol
Updated on April 26, 2022

Multiple hard inquiries can put a serious dent in your credit, especially if you have a relatively short credit history. Incurring too many hard inquiries is an easy mistake to make. 

Say you’ve just rented a new apartment. The leasing agent may have checked your credit with a hard inquiry. Then, maybe, you apply for financing for furniture. The furniture place may check your credit with a hard inquiry. Then you decide you want a card with travel rewards, so you apply for a couple of those. That could be four hard inquiries on your credit report within a short period, and it could result in a lower credit score.

How long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report? The good news is that although a hard inquiry will stay on your credit report for 24 months, it stops affecting your credit score much sooner than that.

If you work on maintaining good credit and shop smartly when taking out new credit, a hard inquiry will have almost no impact on your credit score at all.

Difference Between a Hard and Soft Inquiry

There is a difference between a soft and a hard inquiry into your credit score.

A soft inquiry on your credit report can only be seen by you. A soft inquiry does not impact your credit score. All it shows is that you or another company checked your report. A soft inquiry cannot be used to make a lending decision. It is usually for a background check or credit monitoring that you signed up for.

On the other hand, a hard inquiry is an inquiry on your credit report that is made with the intent to make a lending decision or offer you a contract. A hard inquiry can temporarily lower your credit score. If you’ve recently applied for a credit card or loan, the lender has probably made a hard inquiry on your credit report.

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How Much Do Hard Inquiries Impact a Credit Score

Remember, a soft inquiry will not have any impact on your credit score. Make sure you check your credit record regularly to maintain your credit score.

A single hard inquiry should not have a big impact on your credit score. You can expect a reduction of five points or less. If you have good credit, your score should bounce back in a few months.

If you have an extensive credit history, a single credit application might not affect your credit score at all.

If you do not have a good credit history you may be more affected by hard inquiries. If a lot of hard inquiries for different types of credit happen in a short amount of time, your overall credit score may be slightly reduced for as long as a year. After two years, hard inquiries drop off your credit report entirely. 

If you have a short credit history or few accounts, you may also be more affected by hard inquiries. 

Don’t worry too much about how long hard inquiries stay on your credit report. Credit applications are not a major factor in calculating your credit score. Hard inquiries are part of your credit report’s “new credit” category, but they don’t weigh heavily relative to the other factors.

How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay on Your Credit Report?

How long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report? Hard inquiries on your credit — the kind that happens when you apply for a loan or credit card — can stay on your credit report for up to 24 months. However, a hard inquiry won’t affect your score after 12 months.

How to Reduce the Impact of Hard Inquiries

Having several hard inquiries a few months apart may have a greater impact on your credit score. This is particularly true if you are applying for different types of credit. Statistics cited by FICO show that people with six or more recent inquiries are eight times as likely to file for bankruptcy as those with none, and scoring formulas reflect that. 

Several hard inquiries may cause lenders to worry that you are having financial difficulty or have become overextended. To reduce the impact of hard inquiries, avoid applying for new credit in the months leading up to a big loan application.

If you are shopping around for a mortgage or loan, try to do this in a short window of time. Some credit score models count multiple inquiries in a short window of time as a single inquiry. Depending on the model used, you have 14 – 45 days to shop around in.

Improving your credit score can also reduce the impact of hard inquiries. The stronger your credit is, the less likely it is that an inquiry will have a significant impact. Practice good credit habits, like paying on time, every time, and keeping your credit balances way below your credit limit.

Can Hard Inquiries Be Disputed?

When you check your credit report, make sure you keep an eye out for hard inquiries that you don’t recognize. This could be a warning sign that someone is attempting to apply for credit in your name. Dispute any suspected fraud with the credit bureau.

If, on the other hand, a company pulled your credit report in error, you can ask the company to contact the credit bureau to have the inquiry removed. If a hard inquiry on your credit report is inaccurate, you can dispute it as you would any other credit report error.

Legitimate inquiries can’t be disputed or removed from your credit report until the two-year time period is up.

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Conclusion

A hard inquiry is a normal part of applying for credit. If you have a strong, long credit history, a single hard inquiry will have almost no effect on your credit score.

If, however, you are new to credit or if you have applied for multiple types of credit in a short amount of time, the hard inquiries will have a bigger impact on your credit report.

How long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report? The good news is that although a hard inquiry will stay on your credit report for 24 months, it stops affecting your credit score much sooner than that.


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