Hard Credit Check vs. Soft Credit Check

hard credit check

When you go to take out a loan, purchase a vehicle, or qualify for a home, the lender will almost always run a hard credit check. But you might not understand exactly how a hard credit check impacts your score. Unfortunately, this can leave you unable to acquire the necessary funds when you need them most!

With that in mind, we have created this helpful guide. We’ve compared hard vs. soft credit checks so that you can make smart financial decisions now and in the future. We’ll even answer common questions like, “How much does a hard credit check lower your score?”

At the end of our crash course on hard credit checks, we’ll discuss some great ways that you can rebuild your score while still gaining access to the funds you need.

What Is a hard credit check?

Often referred to as a “hard inquiry,” a hard credit check is a formal request to view your borrowing history. Lenders submit these requests to credit bureaus such as Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. 

A hard credit check will contain a comprehensive financial history, including what debts you have repaid, any payments you have missed, and other information about your monetary obligations.

Generally, a hard inquiry will remain on your credit report for 24 months. Unfortunately, these inquiries can negatively impact your credit score. Your score can drop by as much as 5 points after a hard credit check, depending on a variety of factors.

What is a soft credit check?

Soft inquiries reveal similar information to a hard credit check. However, they are not attached to an application for credit. 

Lenders can make these types of requests to avoid negatively impacting your credit score. If the soft credit check reveals that you are ineligible for a loan, the lender can notify you and will not need to conduct a hard inquiry.

Comparing a hard credit check vs soft credit check

Below, we have outlined a few factors that can help you differentiate between a hard vs. soft credit check.

Hard credit checks stay on your report

A soft credit check is not documented on your credit report. This means that lenders will not be able to see how many soft credit checks have been requested in the past. 

In contrast, hard checks are visible on your report for up to two years. If you have recently applied for several new credit cards or loans, lenders will be able to find out by reviewing past hard credit inquiries.

Hard credit checks negatively impact your score

Soft credit checks have no impact on your credit score. Hard credit inquiries can decrease your score by up to five points per incident. This means that multiple inquiries could drastically impact your score. 

For instance, if you apply for a personal loan, credit card, and car loan in the same month, your score could drop up to 15 points.

Hard scores include a rate shopping exception

Hard credit checks include a rate shopping exception. When applying for student loans, mortgages, or auto loans, FICO treats multiple inquiries within a 45-day period in a category to be a single hard credit check. This allows you to shop around for the best rates without destroying your credit score.

How can I get a loan without a hard credit check?

After learning about the potential impacts of hard credit checks, you might be wondering whether there is a way to get a loan without damaging your score. Fortunately, there is! 

MoneyLion offers a variety of great financial products that can help you get cash fast without damaging your credit. These solutions include:


MoneyLion Instacash allows you to get cash advances up to $250 with 0% interest. All you need to do is download the MoneyLion app, link your checking account, and borrow the desired amount (up to $250). 

The borrowed amount will automatically be deducted from your linked account during the following pay cycle. Some benefits of this low-cost lending option include:

  • No monthly fee
  • No hard credit check
  • No interest
  • Rapid access

Want more cash? Set up direct deposit with your RoarMoney account and you’ll automatically upgrade to the Safety Net feature and gain access to $1000 Instacash.

Credit Builder Loan

The MoneyLion Credit Builder Loan will help you establish 12 months of payment history with all three major credit bureaus. This solution also includes 24/7 credit monitoring for added peace of mind. 

Some other perks of this option are:

  • Same day funding
  • Affordable 12-month payment plan
  • Build positive credit history

Coming soon: MoneyLion buy no pay later!

When MoneyLion’s buy now pay later feature launches you’ll be able to take out a $50 to $600 zero-fee installments. All you need is a RoarMoney account and repeating direct deposit. 

The loan amount will be divided into four easy payments to help you deal with unexpected expenses. 

The MoneyLion buy now pay later program will offer:

  • Spread expenses out over time
  • Manage your account with a user-friendly app
  • Build your credit score

Rebuild your score with MoneyLion

Even if your score has been damaged by hard credit checks, it is possible to rebuild this important rating to a more respectable number. While there are many ways to accomplish this goal and overcome hard credit check impacts, the best approach is to become a Credit Builder Plus membership for $19.99 month!

The MoneyLion Credit Builder Plus program includes awesome perks like credit monitoring, progress tracking, 0% APR cash advances, and much more!


How much does a hard credit check affect your credit score?

According to FICO and Experian, a hard credit check can decrease your credit score by up to five points. However, if you use a financial service from MoneyLion that does not require a hard credit check, then your score will be unaffected.

What does a hard credit check show?

A hard credit check will provide a detailed account of your past borrowing history. This includes how much you currently owe, how well you repaid past debts, and other kinds of similar information. The check will also include outstanding credit card bills, car loans, mortgages, and other financial obligations.

Who runs hard credit checks?

Many lenders and creditors run hard credit checks. They must submit the request to one or all of the major credit bureaus, which include Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

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