Checking Your Credit Report Won’t Hurt Your Score

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Through April 20, 2022, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.

Dear Experian,

Is there any way I can check my credit report and score without it hurting my score? How much does it hurt me to order my credit score?

- KWS

Dear KWS,

Ordering your own credit report and credit score will not hurt your credit scores or have any effect on lending decisions. You can order them as many times as you like.

In fact, it's wise to check your credit reports often. Not only can doing so help you stay on top of any changes to your credit history, it can also help alert you to potential fraud much sooner.

You can request your free reports from all three national credit reporting agencies by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also order your free credit report and free credit score directly from Experian.

How Do Inquiries Impact My Credit Scores?

There are two types of inquiries on your credit report: hard inquiries and soft inquiries. Soft inquiries are usually initiated by others, including companies making promotional offers of credit or existing lenders conducting periodic reviews of your credit accounts. Soft inquiries also occur when you check your own credit report or score or when you use credit monitoring services from Experian and other companies. These inquiries do not impact your credit score, and are listed in a separate section in your credit report from the ones that do.

Hard inquiries occur when you apply for credit and a lender pulls your credit report and/or requests a score. These inquiries can be seen by your creditors and any other lenders who may check your report. When your credit report is scored, a hard inquiry could have a minor, short-term impact that diminishes over time. Some credit scoring models don't consider them at all after one year.

Why Do Inquiries Have an Impact on Credit Scores?

The primary reason hard inquiries influence credit scores is that they indicate you may have acquired new debt that does not yet appear on your report, which raises the level of risk you pose in the eyes of lenders and credit scoring models. Usually, the impact of the inquiry diminishes rapidly in just a few months. In that time, a new account may be added, offsetting the effect of the inquiry. Or, there may be no new account, meaning the inquiry represents no new lending risk.

Additionally, multiple credit card applications within a short period of time may have a compounding effect on your perceived credit risk and start to have a noticeable effect on your scores. Lenders want to be sure you are not in danger of overextending yourself before agreeing to extend additional credit.

Thanks for asking.
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist

How Good Is Your Credit Score?

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The purpose of this question submission tool is to provide general education on credit reporting. The Ask Experian team cannot respond to each question individually. However, if your question is of interest to a wide audience of consumers, the Experian team may include it in a future post and may also share responses in its social media outreach. If you have a question, others likely have the same question, too. By sharing your questions and our answers, we can help others as well.

Personal credit report disputes cannot be submitted through Ask Experian. To dispute information in your personal credit report, simply follow the instructions provided with it. Your personal credit report includes appropriate contact information including a website address, toll-free telephone number and mailing address.

To submit a dispute online visit Experian's Dispute Center. If you have a current copy of your personal credit report, simply enter the report number where indicated, and follow the instructions provided. If you do not have a current personal report, Experian will provide a free copy when you submit the information requested. Additionally, you may obtain a free copy of your report once a week through April 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.