How does a hard credit inquiry affect my credit score?

A hard credit inquiry can have a negative effect on your credit score.

A hard credit inquiry occurs when a lender or company reviews your credit score as part of a loan application process. When you apply for a mortgage, loan, or credit card, you give the lender permission to check your credit.

If you already have an extensive credit history, the effect is minimal. But if you have a short credit history or a few accounts, the impact is greater. Hard inquiries may stay in your credit history for up to 36 months, but no more than two years.

While hard inquiries might not affect your credit score for long periods, it is important to space out the inquiries. Multiple hard inquiries within a short period make you look like a high-risk customer, so lenders might think you’re short on cash or looking to acquire debt. If you’re looking to build your credit score, you’ll want to space out your inquiries, so you don’t seem unreliable.

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