How Long Do Hard Inquiries Stay On Your Credit Report?

Updated: October 12, 2022

Written by Eddy Ballesteros

You've decided you want to get a credit card. You've researched, found the perfect card for you, and applied. A few days later, you check your credit report only to find that your score has dropped. You're probably wondering how long can hard inquiries stay on your credit report?

Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years, but they only impact your score for the first year.

So, if you're worried about a hard inquiry harming your credit score, you can sigh relief as it'll only affect your score for 12 months.

TL;DR: How long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report?

  • Hard Credit Inquiries can stay up to two years on your credit report.
  • Many companies, such as dealerships, will pull multiple inquiries.
  • A soft pull does not hurt your credit file as a hard pull does.
  • Always monitor your credit accounts using apps like Credit Karma or Credit Smart.
  • Credit inquiries only make up 10% of your credit score.

But that doesn't mean you should apply for new lines of credit whenever you feel the need to buy something. Every time you apply for a new credit card or loan, a hard inquiry is added to your report, which can ding your score slightly (usually less than five points).

Wait Atleast 6-12 months before making a big purchase.

So if you want to make a big purchase, such as a home or auto loan, you'll want to be careful for 12 months.

I've been through my fair share of financial difficulties and added too many hard inquiries, which looked terrible for my FICO score.

I learned simple credit repair tips that taught me how to remove inquiries and helped my overall credit score.

What Is a Hard Inquiry?

A hard inquiry is when a lender checks your credit report to determine whether or not to approve you for a loan or credit card. An example would be dealerships, notorious for pulling multiple inquiries to get you approved for a car loan.

Hard inquiries can lower your credit score because they indicate to lenders that you're actively looking for new lines of credit, which can be perceived as financial risk.

The credit bureaus will add these negative items, affecting your credit scores and how lenders judge your financial stability.

That's why it's generally best to avoid opening new lines of credit within six months of applying for a significant loan, like a mortgage. 

What's The Difference Between A Hard And Soft Inquiry?

Hard vs soft inquiries

A soft credit inquiry is a type of inquiry that does not hurt your credit score. Soft inquiries can occur when you check your credit report, when a lender checks your credit for pre-approval purposes, or when a business checks your credit to extend a line of credit. 

Side note: 

If you need a free credit report that uses the FICO scoring model, sign up with FreeAnnualCreditReport.com.

An easy way to view your credit inquiries is by using a free credit score app like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, or a paid credit monitoring service.

An app like Credit Karma or Smart credit can let you view your credit history, including a copy of all your previous credit reports.

In contrast, a hard credit inquiry is an inquiry that can negatively impact your credit score. When you apply for a loan or a new line of credit, hard inquiries occur. Lenders will pull your credit report to assess your risk as a borrower, resulting in a small decrease in your credit score.

However, the impact of a single hard inquiry is typically very small and will dissipate over time. Therefore, if you are planning to apply for new lines of credit, it is best to do so within a short period of time to minimize the impact on your credit score.

How Much Does A Hard Inquiry Affect Your Credit Score?

When you apply for credit, the lender will almost always make a hard inquiry on your credit report.

This is because they want to see your credit history and understand your ability to repay the debt.

While a hard inquiry can ding your score, it's not a major factor. It typically only lowers your score by a few points. Additionally, the impact of a hard inquiry tends to fade over time. So, if you're shopping around for a loan or credit card, don't worry about the effect on your score.

Just remember to keep your inquiries in a short period of time so that it only counts as one hit on your report.

If you have multiple hard inquiries on your credit file, this can potentially hurt you during your credit application process.

Should I Be Concerned About Hard Inquiries?

If you're concerned about hard inquiries impacting your ability to get approved for new lines of credit, don't be.

They only affect 10% of your score, and the impact of a single inquiry will fade over time.

10% of your credit score

They only lower your score by a few points, and the impact dissipates after 12 months. However, it's still important to be mindful of how many hard inquiries you have in a short period of time; too many can signify financial risk to lenders.

If you're planning on applying for multiple lines of credit in quick succession (like if you're shopping around for a mortgage), it's best to space out your applications so that each one doesn't ding your score too much. 

Can You Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report?

As I explained earlier, a mortgage or car loan agent slaps on multiple hard credit inquiries, affecting your credit.

A single inquiry can reflect for up to two years but only damage your good credit score for a few months. After two years pass, your hard inquiries drop, so it might not be completely worth it to try and remove them.

Either way, I'll still show you how to do this.

After reviewing your credit report for major credit bureau mistakes like hard inquiries, you might wonder: can I remove them myself?

The answer is yes. but it's not always recommended.

If the inquiry is legitimate, you likely won't be able to get it removed unless the company does it in good faith.

However, if the inquiry was made without your permission or is otherwise inaccurate, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau to have it removed.

When I worked in a credit repair business, we used software to flag incorrect credit inquiries and send dispute letters. 

Wrapping Up: 

A hard inquiry is added to your credit report whenever you apply for a new line of credit—but don't worry, they only stay on your report for two years, and their impact on your score fades after 12 months.

So if you're considering applying for a new loan, such as a student loan or a home loan, you'll want to look at all your other factors first.

This will be other credit scoring models and factors such as:

  • Payment history
  • Credit card debt
  • Income to debt ratio
  • Any identity theft before
  • Credit utilization
  • Credit history

So make sure you stay up to date on all your credit factors to ensure a healthy credit score.

About the Author

Ever felt like you should be doing more with your business or blog? I felt the same way until I learned how to focus on income-producing activities and scale my businesses. My name is Eddy Ballesteros and I'm known as the Friendly Entrepreneur. Check out my best product reviews and make money online guides!