Knowing your current credit score is incredibly important. However, some kinds of credit checks may actually lower your credit. If you do not want this to happen, it is vital that you know how to view your credit score without lowering it.
The Effects of Soft Inquiries and Hard Inquiries
There is actually more than one kind of credit inquiry that you can do if you are interested in checking your current credit score. Knowing the difference between the two can help you avoid damaging your credit in any way, so that way you do not have to work hard at building it back up from where it dropped to.
Hard Credit Inquiries
A hard inquiry (also called a “hard pull”), is a type of credit check that happens when a financial institution, such as a credit card issuer or lender, checks your credit when they are making a lending decision.
Examples of this can include:
- Auto loans
- Credit cards
In order for such a check to happen though, you have to give a financial institution authorization to do so.
A hard inquiry may make your credit score drop a few points each time one happens. It may also have a rather negligible effect on your score, though the damage usually does not stay on your credit report long.
However, it may not be a good idea to apply for several loans within a short space of time. The effects may add up and the detriment to your credit score could be quite sizable. This could also end up making potential lenders and credit card issuers think you are a high risk.
Soft Credit Inquiries
A soft inquiry (also referred to as a “soft pull”), is a kind of credit check that happens when either a person or a company does a check of your credit as part of a background check.
An example of this happening is when a potential employer checks your credit before they decide to hire you or when you want to check your own credit score.
With that said, soft inquiries do not have any effect on your credit score. They are only visible to you on your credit report when you view it because you are not attempting to get new credit.
The Best Ways to Find Out Your Credit Score
Use a Secure, Online Credit Website
You have the option of looking at your Experian credit score for free over at Credit, a safe online site that offers you secure encryption that is comparable to a bank. They allow you to keep a close eye on your score on a regular basis. You are also given access to view your score when it is updated every 15 days, a free credit report card, access to over 150 different loan offerings and credit cards, as well as financial success related tips.
Use a Credit Score Service
There are a number of credit score services that will give you the ability to view your credit score. You need to be careful with these however, as some of them may end up charging you a fee or require you to sign up for a paid subscription for credit monitoring services. Be sure to find one that has no such requirements.
Buy Your Credit Scores
If you do not mind spending a bit of money to get your credit score however, you also have the option of buying each of your credit scores from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. By doing this, you are in no way required to buy any kind of identity theft monitoring services or credit protection.
Go to Your Credit Card Company
Your credit card company (if it is a major company), may offer you access to your credit score either through your online account or in your monthly statement. This is not the best reason to sign up with a particular credit card company, but it is certainly a nice perk.
Order a Free Annual Report
Finally, you also have the option of ordering a free credit report from the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months and requesting it will have no impact whatsoever on your credit. You can get these reports through Annual Credit Report.