Does Checking Your Credit Score Lower It? [2023 FICO & CFPB Reports]

Updated On: 08/19/2023 is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Have you ever felt anxious when it's time to check your credit score? You are not alone. Most individuals shudder at the thought, fearing that merely checking might unintentionally lower their credit score.

It begs to ask, does checking your credit score lower it? We all want to maintain good financial health, after all.

You can sigh in relief because it's not as straightforward or dire as you think. While certain checks can potentially affect your credit score negatively, it’s essential to understand that these only encompass a small percentage of inquiries about your rating — specifically 'hard inquiries.'

So, before you skip out on understanding your financial status entirely due to unfounded fear, let's delve into what impacts your credit score.

Does Checking Your Credit Score Lower It?

No, checking your credit score does not lower it. This is known as a "soft" credit inquiry, and unlike "hard" inquiries, it does not affect your credit score. A "hard" inquiry usually occurs when a lender, like a mortgage or a car loan provider, checks your credit for approval.

These can slightly reduce your credit score temporarily. However, regularly checking your credit score is considered responsible financial behavior and has no negative impact on your credit score.

It lets you track where you stand and understand how financial decisions can impact your overall credit health.

Difference between Hard and Soft Inquiries

When it comes to checking your credit report, you deal with two distinctive types of inquiries: hard inquiries and soft inquiries. Understanding these differences can save you from unnecessary worries about your credit health.

Hard Inquiries

A hard inquiry, also known as a hard pull, typically happens when a financial institution, like a lender or credit card issuer, checks your credit history while making its decision. This can occur when applying for a mortgage, auto loan, or credit card.

Lenders want to know if you’ve demonstrated responsible borrowing habits in the past. Hard inquiries might lower your credit score by a few points and can remain on your credit report for up to two years.

Soft Inquiries

On the other hand, we have soft inquiries, also known as soft pulls. This happens when you or a company checks your credit report as a background check.

This can include checking your credit score or companies conducting periodic reviews on their account holders' scores. Crucially, soft inquiries do not affect your credit score at all.

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How Do You Get Your Credit Report?

Obtaining your credit report has become surprisingly streamlined with the advent of various convenient online services. Let's delve into a few options available:

1. CreditWise from Capital One

CreditWise from Capital One

CreditWise is an excellent service provided by Capital One that offers free access to your credit score and report from TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. Anyone can use CreditWise, not just Capital One customers.

To register, you merely need to provide personal information such as your name, address, and Social Security number.

A standout feature of CreditWise is its dark web scan which essentially monitors and alerts you if your Social Security number or email address is found on sites known for trading personal information. This service aids in the early detection and prevention of identity theft.

2. Experian


Like CreditWise, Experian also offers a robust service that includes a detailed analysis of your score and tips on improving it. The cherry on top? Experian provides a one-time dark web scan at no cost.

Visit Experian and follow the step-by-step guide to pull an accurate picture of your financial health. is federally authorized to offer you a free copy of your credit reports from all three bureaus annually under FCRA.

How Often Is It Safe To Check Your Credit Score?

The simple, straightforward answer is that you can check your credit score as often as you wish without fearing it impacting your score.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), it's recommended that you review your credit reports at least once a year. This ensures all the information is accurate and up-to-date.

However, checking in more frequently, like every four months, lets you stay informed about your financial status and react promptly to any significant changes or potential fraud.

Each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—provides one free report annually.

How Much Is Your Credit Score Affected By An Inquiry?

Inquiries influence your credit score, but the degree varies and largely depends on numerous factors. The impact of hard inquiries could range from a negligible effect to a more substantial one.

According to FICO, a widely recognized credit-scoring model across the United States, a hard inquiry may reduce your score by approximately 5-10 points. However, it's crucial to realize this isn't set in stone.

The overall presence and specific details of the other information in your credit report influence the exact amount of points deduction following a hard inquiry.

Common Myths about Credit Scores Reduction

Much information is floating around about what can negatively impact your credit score. While some of it is factual, a significant chunk comprises misconceptions.

Let's demystify a few common myths that can mislead you in managing your credit score:

1. Checking Credit Lowers the Score

This myth comes from a confusion between hard and soft inquiries, where soft pulls such as checking your credit do not hurt your score.

2. Closing Credit Cards Will Improve Your Score

The assumption that closing credit card accounts can boost your score is unfounded. Doing so can lower your score by affecting your credit utilization rate and average account age.

3. Inquiry from Employer's Credit Check Hurts Score

Employee background checks often include a credit check, especially for financial roles. However, this is typically a soft inquiry, which does not impact your credit score.

4. All Debts Hurt Your Score Equally

The type of debt matters for your score's calculation: unpaid medical bills have less influence than missed mortgage payments.

If your credit rating isn't quite up to snuff, many intervention strategies are available, so don't stress. Millions of people deal with less-than-perfect credit scores daily and have successfully turned things around; you're not alone.

Don't allow myths and misconceptions to hamper your efforts to improve and maintain good financial health.

Other Factors Influencing Your Credit Score

Your credit score is influenced by numerous factors beyond inquiries and your diligence in checking your report regularly.

If you're keen on maintaining or improving your credit score, keep an eye on these quintessential factors per FICO's scoring model:

1. Payment History (35%)

Your payment history carries the highest weight of influence on your credit score. This category evaluates whether you've paid past credit accounts on time.

2. Amounts Owed (30%)

When it comes to debt, all relative amounts are considered, including total amounts owed, the ratio of credit owed to the overall credit limit, and specific loan balances compared to the original loan amount.

3. Length of Credit History (15%)

Lenders want to see that you've proven a pattern of responsible behavior over time, which is why the length of your credit history is used as a determining factor.

4. New Credit (10%)

The number and proportion of recently-opened accounts and recent credit inquiries are viewed under this category.

5. Credit Mix in Use (10%)

It's beneficial to have a variety of debt – such as revolving accounts or installment loans – as different types indicate your ability to manage a mix of credits.

Maintaining a keen eye on all these factors and ensuring routine checks for any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your reports is essential.

Ways to Maintain and Improve Your Credit Score

Maintaining and improving your credit score doesn't have to be an arduous task. Incorporating a few essential habits into your financial routine ensures that your credit score stays healthy and even improves over time.

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1. Pay Your Bills on Time

Prompt payment of bills is one of the key influencers of your credit score. When lenders review your credit report, they are keenly interested in how you pay your bills reliably. Thus, consistently paying on time can significantly boost your credit rating.

2. Reduce Debt

It's essential to keep the amounts owed within manageable limits. High outstanding debt can negatively impact a credit score. So, attempt to reduce the total amount of debt you owe systematically.

3. Don’t Close Unused Credit Cards

Unless a card charges an annual fee, closing an unused card account may harm your credit score and isn't generally recommended as a short-term strategy for boosting it.

4. Use Different Types of Credit

Your credit mix – or the different types of credit accounts you have – makes up 10% of your FICO scores. Revolving accounts (credit cards) and installment loans (auto loans or mortgages) affect your scores positively.

FAQs About Credit Score

Is it true that looking at your credit score lowers it?

No, that's not accurate. Checking your credit score falls under a 'soft inquiry' category and does not impact your credit score.

Is 700 a good credit score?

Yes, 700 is generally considered a good credit score on a FICO scale of 300-850. It indicates responsible credit management, making qualifying for loans easier and getting competitive interest rates.

Why is my credit score going down when I pay on time?

Credit scores aren't only about timely payments. Other factors like high credit utilization, opening new lines of credit, or having only short-term lines of credit can decrease the rating, even with prompt payment habits.

How many hard inquiries are too many?

There isn't a definitive number since the impact varies based on total credit history. However, six or more challenging inquiries are usually considered many and could signal risk to potential lenders.

How bad are three hard inquiries?

Three hard inquiries might not drastically lower your scores if you have an otherwise solid history. Although every hard question can drop FICO scores by up to five points, several inquiries aren’t always cumulative—it depends on the overall information in your reports.


In conclusion, you do not need to worry about your credit score diminishing when you check it for personal reasons. This is considered a soft inquiry and does not impact your score.

So go ahead and regularly monitor your financial health without fear. It’s essential to stay informed and up-to-date with all your credit proceedings to ensure you're on top of things.

Remember, maintaining a good credit score is more about consistently meeting payment deadlines and managing outstanding balances efficiently.

Don't let the unjustified fear of a decrease hold you back from effective credit management. After all, high credit scores are vital in attracting trust from lenders and seizing the right opportunities when they come along.

Michael Restiano

I lead product content strategy for SaltMoney. Additionally, I’m helping our broader team of 4 evolve into a mature content strategy practice with the right documentation and processes to deliver quality work. Prior to Instacart, I was a content strategy lead at Uber Eats and Facebook. Before that, I was a content strategist at SapientNitro, helping major Fortune 500 brands create better, more useful digital content.