Hard Pull vs. Soft Pull: A Guide To How Credit Checks May Impact Your Credit Score

In the realm of personal finance and credit management, few things hold as much significance as your credit score. It’s a numerical representation of your creditworthiness, and it can impact your ability to secure loans, obtain favorable interest rates, and even land certain jobs. Understanding the factors that influence your credit score is paramount, and one critical aspect is the distinction between hard pull and soft pull when it comes to credit checks.

Heritage Financial Credit Union (HFCU) recognizes the importance of providing understanding of these credit inquiries for its members. In this guide, we’ll delve into the nuances of hard and soft credit pulls, how they may affect your credit score, and how HFCU’s commitment to financial education empowers its members to make informed decisions.

Hard Pulls: The Impactful Inquiries

A “hard pull,” also known as a “hard inquiry” or “hard credit check,” occurs when a lender or financial institution reviews your credit report as part of their decision-making process for a new credit application. Here’s what you need to know about hard pulls:

  • Credit Impact: A hard pull has the potential to impact your credit score negatively. While the effect is typically modest (a few points), multiple hard inquiries within a short time frame can have a more substantial impact.
  • Common Examples: Hard pulls are common when applying for credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, or personal loans. They indicate that you’re actively seeking new credit, which may raise flags for lenders.
  • Permission Required: A hard inquiry can only occur with your explicit consent. When you apply for credit, you’re essentially granting permission for the lender to pull your credit report.
  • Duration on Credit Report: Hard inquiries typically remain on your credit report for about two years. However, their impact on your credit score lessens over time.

Soft Pulls: The Non-Impacting Inquiries

A “soft pull,” often referred to as a “soft inquiry” or “soft credit check,” is a credit inquiry that doesn’t affect your credit score. Here’s what you should know about soft pulls:

  • Credit Impact: Soft pulls have no impact on your credit score. They are informational inquiries that don’t reflect an application for new credit.
  • Common Examples: Soft pulls occur in various non-credit-related situations, such as when you check your own credit report, when a potential employer conducts a background check, or when you receive pre-approved credit offers.
  • Permission not Always Required: In some cases, permission may not be required for a soft inquiry, such as when a company checks your credit as part of a promotional offer. However, you have the right to opt-out of such inquiries.
  • Duration on Credit Report: Soft inquiries typically do not appear on your credit report, so they don’t have a lasting presence.

Why The Distinction Matters

Understanding the difference between hard and soft pulls is crucial because it enables you to make informed financial decisions and minimize any negative impact on your credit score. Here’s why the distinction matters:

  • Loan Shopping: When you’re actively shopping for a loan, such as a mortgage or auto loan, multiple hard inquiries within a short timeframe (typically 14 to 45 days, depending on the scoring model) are often treated as a single inquiry. This allows you to compare offers without significantly affecting your credit score.
  • Monitoring Your Credit: Regularly checking your own credit report, which is considered a soft inquiry, is a responsible practice that allows you to detect errors or potential issues early.
  • Privacy and Identity Theft: Being aware of who is pulling your credit report helps protect your privacy and can alert you to potential identity theft or unauthorized credit checks.

HFCU’s Commitment To Financial Education

At HFCU, we believe that informed members make better financial decisions. That’s why we prioritize financial education and transparency. We provide our members with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the complexities of credit inquiries, credit scores, and overall financial wellness.

Our commitment to education extends to:

  • Credit Counseling: We offer credit counseling services to help our members understand their credit reports, manage debt, and improve their financial standing.
  • Online Resources: HFCU provides valuable online resources, including articles, guides, and calculators, to empower our members with financial knowledge.
  • Member Support: Our dedicated team is available to answer questions, provide guidance, and assist our members in achieving their financial goals.

Financial Development Center By HFCU: Your Financial Partner

Located at 29 N Hamilton St, First Floor Suite 110, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, the Financial Development Center is your go-to destination for confidential, no-cost financial counseling. At HFCU, we’re dedicated to empowering our community with financial guidance and resources.

What We Offer:

  • Confidential Financial Counseling: Work with our counselors to identify your financial goals and create a personalized action plan.
  • Connecting with HFCU: Access safe and affordable financial products and services offered by Heritage Financial Credit Union.
  • Financial Education: Explore student and teacher resources, games, and FREE counseling to boost your financial literacy.

Our Mission: Growth Beyond Banking

As a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), we’re here to empower the underbanked and foster growth beyond banking. Join us on your journey to financial success.

In the world of credit, knowledge is power. To learn more about the ways HFCU can equip you with the knowledge and resources you need for a better financial future, contact a team member today.