One of the most common myths I hear about credit reports and scores is that checking my credit report will lower my credit score.
Just last night, I was having a conversation with a friend whose company pulls credit reports daily for renters. I asked her several questions about what information she looked at on the credit reports and if she looks at the credit scores. She rents to some high-end clients (doctors, lawyers, professional athletes, etc.) and told me that she the credit score does not paint a good enough picture to predict their future as renters.
This conversation led into several stories about some of her clients over the years. She told me about several individuals who would pay an entire year’s rent up front rather than having her pull their credit report (these were the attorneys). “Why?” I asked. “They don’t want it to affect their credit score.” she replied.
The conversation soon shifted into stories about what we have found in our own credit reports. I told her about how she can check her credit once every four months by checking one of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) every four months. She replied that she only checks it every couple of years because it affects her credit score. Of course, I argued that checking your credit report would not lower your credit score.
Will Checking My Credit Report Lower My Credit Score?
This is the most common myth I hear about credit scores. The answer is that checking your credit report will NOT lower your credit score. According to MyFico.com, “As long as you order your credit reports through an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers, such as myFICO, your own inquiries will not affect your FICO score.”
Okay, that is fine, but what do the credit agencies say? Will checking my credit report lower my credit score according to them?
- TransUnion - “Contrary to common credit myths, checking your own credit report doesn’t damage your credit history or credit score, so don’t worry about negative consequences of keeping an eye on your credit.”
- Experian - “Requesting a copy of your own credit report will not affect your credit scores. An inquiry will be added to your report as a record that you requested it. This type of inquiry is sometimes called a “soft” inquiry because it is shown only to you. Therefore, you can check your own credit report as often as you like with no affect on your credit scores.”
- Equifax - “You may request/check your own credit report as many times as you want and your credit score will not be negatively affected. “
Maxine Sweet, Vice President for Public Education at Experian also weighed in on the question, “Will checking my credit report lower my credit score?”
When Will Checking My Credit Report Lower My Credit Score
The only time checking your credit report will lower your credit score is when a business checks your score before giving you a loan. This is known as a hard inquiry while checking your own credit is known as a soft inquiry.
Experian explains why hard inquiries will affect your credit score. “Inquiries shown to lenders, sometimes referred to as “hard” inquiries, result from your application for credit or other services. They are shared because they represent potential new debt that doesn’t yet appear in your credit report as an account. That unknown debt represents potential risk, so “hard inquiries” can affect lending decisions and credit scores, although the impact is typically small and short-lived.”
Your FICO credit score also ignores rate shopping inquiries in the last 30 days. According to MyFico.com, “Research has indicated that the FICO score is more predictive when it treats loans that commonly involve rate-shopping, such as mortgage, auto and student loans, in a different way. For these types of loans, the FICO score ignores inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your score while you’re rate shopping. In addition, the score looks on your credit report for rate-shopping inquiries older than 30 days. If it finds some, it counts those inquiries that fall in a typical shopping period as just one inquiry when determining your score. For FICO scores calculated from older versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 14 day span. For FICO scores calculated from the newest versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 45 day span. Each lender chooses which version of the FICO scoring formula it wants the credit reporting agency to use to calculate your FICO score.”
Call To Action
Now that you know that checking your credit will not lower your credit score, you should do the following:
- Use my Step by Step Guide for Checking Your Experian Credit Report and check your report today.
- Sign up for email updates and I’ll send you a reminder in 4 months to check your Transunion Credit Report. In 8 months, I’ll send you a reminder to check your Equifax credit report. After that, you will receive yearly reminders to check those credit reports.
- Do you have children? Use my step by step guide to check your children’s credit reports too.
Do you have any credit myths you need confirmed or busted? Write me a comment below and I’ll get to work on them.
- I Used My Credit Card at Neiman Marcus - Free Equifax Credit Report
- 2013 Identity Theft and Fraud Statistics
- Requesting Your Experian Credit Report Video
- Identity Theft Protection For Kids
- How Can I Get a Credit Report - A Step-by-Step Guide to Requesting Your Equifax Credit Report
- How Can I Get a Credit Report - A Step-by-Step Guide to Requesting Your TransUnion Credit Report
- How Can I Get a Credit Report? - A Step-by-Step Guide to Requesting Your Experian Credit Report