What is a Credit Inquiry and the Difference Between a Hard Inquiry or Soft Inquiry?
Any company, organization, or individual with a “legitimate business need” can request to see your credit history, and these requests are known as credit inquiries. They are divided into two categories called hard and soft inquiries — hard inquiries will affect your credit history and credit score while soft inquiries will not.
A hard credit inquiry occurs when you apply for a home loan, auto loan, credit card, or charge account and you give the credit lender permission to access your credit history. These hard credit inquiries appear on your credit history and affect your credit score.
A soft credit inquiry occurs when you request your own credit file, business request your credit file for the purpose of making credit offer or loan mailings, or businesses with whom you currently have a credit account request to see your credit history. Credit checks conducted by current and potential employers (with your permission) also do not count against your credit score. These types of credit inquiries do appear on your credit history, but they will not count for or against your credit score.