One Inquiry Can Be “Too Many”

Dear Experian,

I am confused as to why I have only one inquiry on my report but all three bureaus say "too many inquiries last 12 months." Is this affecting my score very much? Even if it is not, why are they using that as part of their scoring system for me?


Dear MOR,

Inquiries rarely have a large impact on your score, but are almost always listed as a factor if you have even one in recent months. In fact, federal law requires them to be listed if they had any impact at all, even if it was very minor.

An inquiry simply indicates you have applied for credit that is not yet shown as an account in your credit report. In other words, you may have taken on additional debt that cannot yet be evaluated as part of your debt load or payment history. With risk scores, that usually means one of two things.

The inquiry risk factor probably had very little impact if you have a good credit score. Inquiries often are listed as a risk factor for people with good credit scores because there is little or nothing else affecting the number.

However, if you have a poor credit score, the impact of recent inquiries can be important. It will not generally decrease your credit score by a large number of points, but it can be enough to cause you to be declined if your credit history already indicates you are a marginal credit risk.

You very likely received several additional risk factors, as well. Inquiries alone will rarely, if ever, be the reason you are declined. The other risk factor statements would describe the other, more important elements that are affecting your credit score.

Because your score depends on everything in your history, which varies widely from person to person, the general advice given to every consumer is to avoid applying for new credit in the 3-6 months prior to a major financial purchase. For most people, the inquiries wouldn't really make a difference, but even one inquiry can be too many if you have other credit problems.

When you cannot manage the debt you already have, applying for more credit concerns lenders because the potential new account would add more debt when you already are having trouble paying your existing accounts.

Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team