Knowledge Center

Is It Okay to Check Your Credit Score?

Reading time: 4 minutes

Highlights:

  • Checking your credit score will not negatively impact your credit history or score.
  • Checking your credit score is an important step in ensuring your personal information is correct and complete.
  • Checking your credit score is considered to be a “soft inquiry.” Soft inquiries typically are not visible to lenders on your credit report.

The idea that checking your credit score will have a negative impact is a common myth. In reality, checking your credit score is an important step in ensuring your personal information is accurate and complete.

Before we jump into the topic at hand, it’s important to know that you have more than one credit score, and the number may vary depending on the source.

Is it bad to check my credit score?

In general, you can check your own credit score without harming it.

Checking your credit score is an important part of monitoring your financial health. This is especially true if you’re in the market for a new loan or other credit account. It’s important to understand what your credit score is and how it might affect the possible credit accounts, interest rates and other lending terms you qualify for.

Checking your credit score will not have an affect on it. Requesting a copy of your credit report or checking your credit score is known as a “soft inquiry.” Soft inquiries are not visible to potential lenders when they view your credit report; however, they may remain visible to you on your report for 12 to 24 months.

What affects your credit score?

While checking your credit score does not impact it, there are certain behaviors that could:

Your payment history. The payment history on your existing credit accounts is one of the most influential factors when it comes to your credit score. Late payments can impact your credit scores for up to seven years from the date of a missed payment. What’s more, late payments can continue to impact your credit score even if you pay the past-due balance. It’s important to keep up with at least the minimum payments on your existing credit accounts whenever possible.

Hard inquiries. As mentioned, checking your own credit score is considered a soft inquiry that will not generally impact your credit score. However, when a lender reviews your credit history in connection with a credit application, this is known as a “hard inquiry,” which has the potential to temporarily harm your credit score.

Hard inquiries help lenders see how frequently you've applied for credit. Too many within a short period of time may suggest to lenders that you’re seeking more credit than you can realistically pay back. This could also negatively impact your credit score. Hard inquiries can stay on your credit report for up to two years, although typically they will become less impactful over time.

Opening or closing credit card accounts. When you apply for a new credit card, the creditor or bank will make a hard inquiry into your credit history, which can drop your credit score temporarily and show up on your credit report for up to two years.

Depending on your financial situation, closing a credit card account may also impact your credit score by altering your credit utilization rate. Expressed as a percentage, this ratio refers to the amount of credit you’re using compared to the total amount available to you and is a factor used in calculating your credit score.

Closing a credit card account could lower your total credit available and increase your credit utilization rate, which may have negative consequences. Keep in mind that a credit utilization rate of more than 30 percent can damage your credit score.

Closing a credit account that you’ve had for a long time. The average age of your credit accounts is another factor in determining your credit score, and having credit accounts open for a longer period of time is seen positively by lenders. Closing your oldest credit card accounts can lower your score the most. Conversely, closing a more recent credit card account will likely have less of an impact on your credit score.

Can I check my credit score without lowering it?

There are quite a few ways that you can take a quick look at your credit score without impacting it. For example, many credit card companies and banking platforms offer a free credit score for cardholders and other types of customers.

For a free monthly VantageScore 3.0 credit score and Equifax credit report, you can create a myEquifax account and click "Get my free credit score" on your myEquifax dashboard to enroll in Equifax Core Credit™. A VantageScore is one of many types of credit scores. You can also get free credit reports annually from the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) at AnnualCreditReport.com.

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