What Is a Soft Credit Check?

What is a soft credit check, and does it have any bearing on your credit score? 

Also known as soft inquiries, soft credit checks are generated when:

Checking Your Own Credit 

A soft credit pull is done when you need access your own credit report to ensure that the contents are accurate. 

Employers 

An employer may view your credit report to screen you for an opportunity. You must explicitly grant employers permission to check your credit during the job application process. 

Your Bank

Your bank may review your FICO Score to view your creditworthiness. This is done to determine if you potentially qualify for other products or if account adjustments are needed. 

Creditors and Lenders

Your credit can be pulled to screen you for pre-approved offers. Chances are you’ve received an invitation to apply for a credit card or loan product at some point because you met the lender’s qualification criteria. 

Housing

Landlords and apartment complexes may pull your credit to determine if you’re a candidate for housing. If the competition is stiff, credit ratings amongst applicants may be used to make a decision. Or if there’s not a ton of demand, but your credit score is on the lower side, the landlord may require a steeper deposit to minimize the risk of loss if you fall behind on rent payments. 

Service Providers

You won’t necessarily get denied for cable, internet or utilities, but expect to pay a higher deposit if they run a soft credit check and discover that your score is on the low side. 

Prescreening for a Loan Product

What if you use a pre-screening tool from a creditor or lender to determine if you potentially for a credit card or loan? This also results in a soft credit check and has no bearing on your credit score. However, if you decide to move forward with the application for credit, a hard inquiry typically will be generated. 

Do Soft Inquiries Impact Your Credit Score? 

Unlike hard inquiries, soft inquiries do not impact your FICO score. 

Why so? Soft inquiries aren’t associated with applications for credit – they are usually generated for informational purposes. So, whether you have 10 soft inquiries or 100, your credit score won’t be affected. 

However, hard inquiries are initiated when you apply for a particular credit product, like a credit card, auto loan or mortgage. This causes the lender or creditor to access both your credit score and credit report to determine if you meet their qualification criteria. Your score may drop by 2 to 5 points, and you may be perceived as risky if you apply for several credit accounts in a short span. 

Hard inquiries can drop your score by up to 10 points. They also remain on your credit report for 24 months. 

Where Can You View Soft Credit Checks? 

You can view soft inquiries by accessing official copies of your credit reports from the 3 credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get free copies of your reports, but be mindful that the inquiries may not be the same across the board. 

Why so? Not all creditors and lenders access credit reports and scores from all 3 bureaus when screening applicants. So, you’ll only see the soft inquiries on the reports from the credit bureaus they retrieve data from. 

Stay in The Know

Keeping up with your credit history doesn’t have to be a huge chore but knowing your score is important. On-time payments, credit history, credit mix, and hard inquires play the biggest role in your overall score so always be mindful of those aspects on your financial journey. 

The good news is that you will receive a weekly credit report when you sign up for Credit Builder Plus membership with MoneyLion, which offers credit builder loans up to $1000 and interest-free cash advances up to $250 with no credit check.