Does going on credit karma hurt your score

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Hard and soft credit inquiries: What they are and why they matter

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We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

It can be helpful to think of your credit scores as a pie that represents your financial well-being.

Your pie is divided into slices, each of which represents a different factor that goes into your credit scores. One large slice is your open credit card utilization rate, another is your percentage of on-time payments, another is the length of your credit history and yet another is the number of derogatory marks on your credit reports.

And then there’s a tiny slice that represents your hard credit inquiries. Every time you apply for more credit, you take a small bite out of this slice. But what exactly is a hard inquiry, and how much of an effect does it really have on your credit?

Let’s start with the basics.

Hard inquiries (also known as “hard pulls”) generally occur when a financial institution, such as a lender or credit card issuer, checks your credit when making a lending decision. They commonly take place when you apply for a mortgage, loan or credit card, and you typically have to authorize them.

A hard inquiry could lower your scores by a few points, or it may have a negligible effect on your scores. In most cases, a single hard inquiry is unlikely to play a huge role in whether you’re approved for a new card or loan. And the damage to your credit scores usually decreases or disappears even before the inquiry drops off your credit reports for good.

How long will a hard inquiry stay on my credit reports?

Generally speaking, hard inquires stay on your credit reports for about two years.

That doesn’t sound so bad, but you may want to think twice before applying for a handful of credit cards at the same time — or even within the span of a few months. Multiple hard inquiries in a short period could lead lenders and credit card issuers to consider you a higher-risk customer, as it suggests you may be short on cash or getting ready to rack up a lot of debt. So consider spreading out your credit card applications.

You can file your state and federal taxes with Credit Karma for no charge, from start to finish. And if you’re expecting a refund, we’ll make sure you get the maximum back, guaranteed.

Soft inquiries (also known as “soft pulls”) typically occur when a person or company checks your credit as part of a background check. This may occur, for example, when a credit card issuer checks your credit without your permission to see if you qualify for certain credit card offers. Your employer might also run a soft inquiry before hiring you.

Unlike hard inquiries, soft inquiries won’t affect your credit scores. (They may or may not be recorded in your credit reports, depending on the credit bureau.) Since soft inquiries aren’t connected to a specific application for new credit, they’re only visible to you when you view your credit reports.

Will checking my own credit scores result in a hard inquiry?

No. This is reported as a soft inquiry, so it won’t lower your scores. You can check your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from two major credit bureaus, TransUnion and Equifax, for free at Credit Karma as often as you like without affecting your credit scores.

Examples of hard and soft credit inquiries

The difference between a hard and soft inquiry generally boils down to whether you gave the lender permission to check your credit. If you did, it may be reported as a hard inquiry. If you didn’t, it should be reported as a soft inquiry.

Let’s look at some examples of when a hard inquiry or a soft inquiry might be placed on your credit reports. Note: The following lists are not exhaustive and should be treated as a general guide.

  • Mortgage applications
  • Auto loan applications
  • Credit card applications
  • Student loan applications
  • Personal loan applications
  • Apartment rental applications
  • Checking your credit scores on Credit Karma
  • “Pre-qualified” credit card offers
  • “Pre-qualified” insurance quotes
  • Employment verification (i.e. background check)

Keep in mind, there are other types of credit checks that could show up as either a hard or soft inquiry. For example, utility, cable, internet and cellphone providers will often check your credit.

If you’re unsure how a particular inquiry will be classified, ask the company, credit card issuer or financial institution involved to distinguish whether it’s a hard or soft credit inquiry.

How to dispute hard credit inquiries

We recommend checking your credit reports often. If you spot any errors, such as a hard inquiry that occurred without your permission, consider disputing it with the credit bureau. You may also contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for further assistance.

This could be a sign of identity theft according to Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus. At the very least, you’ll want to look into it and understand what’s going on.

Keep in mind, you can only dispute hard inquiries that occur without your permission. If you’ve authorized a hard inquiry, it generally takes two years to fall off your credit reports.

How to minimize the impact of hard credit inquiries

When you’re buying a home or car, don’t let a fear of racking up multiple hard inquiries stop you from shopping for the lowest interest rates.

FICO gives you a 30-day grace period before certain loan inquiries are reflected in your FICO® credit scores. And FICO may record multiple inquires for the same type of loan as a single inquiry as long as they’re made within a certain window. For FICO scores calculated from older versions of the scoring formula, this window is 14 days; for FICO scores calculated from the newest versions of the scoring formula, it’s 45 days.

Similarly, the VantageScore model gives you a rolling two-week window to shop for the best interest rates for certain loans. “That way, they only impact your credit score once,” the company says.

Your credit scores play a big role in your financial well-being. Before applying for credit, take time to build your credit scores. With stronger credit, you may improve your chances of being approved for the financial products you want at the best possible terms and rates.

To help you keep track of hard inquiries that may influence your credit scores, check your credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax at Credit Karma. While one hard inquiry may knock a few points off your scores, multiple inquiries in a short amount of time may cause more damage.

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© 2007–2018 Credit Karma, Inc. Credit Karma™ is a registered trademark of Credit Karma, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Product name, logo, brands, and other trademarks featured or referred to within Credit Karma are the property of their respective trademark holders. This site may be compensated through third party advertisers.

iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.

Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

The Equifax logo is a registered trademark owned by Equifax in the United States and other countries.

Will Using Credit Karma Hurt Your Credit Score?

One of the questions people often have when using free credit score sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle is whether using them will ultimately hurt their credit scores. This question usually arises because they hear somewhere that checking your credit score too many times can lower your credit score. While this is true, it fails to take into account the difference between a “hard inquiry” and a “soft inquiry” when your credit score is checked. When you get free credit scores from Credit Karma and other sites like it, you are doing a soft inquiry, not a hard inquiry. Understanding the difference between these two types of credit score inquiries is essential so that you don’t accidentally damage your credit score.

What Is a Hard Credit Score Inquiry?

A hard credit score inquiry is usually done when you are directly applying for some type of credit and the institutions where you are applying checks your credit report to see if you qualify for a loan. Typical instances when a hard inquiry would take place is when you apply for a credit card, a car loan, a student loan or a mortgage. In most cases, you will directly authorize the lending institution to pull your credit report because you are hoping to get the credit or loan.

The important aspect of the hard credit score inquiry is that these do lower your credit score. While a single hard inquiry will only lower your score by a few points, a number of hard inquiries over a short period of time can have a much more profoundly negative affect on your score. Hard inquires usually stay on your credit report for two years, although the negative affect of them may wear off before they completely disappear from the report.

What Is a Soft Credit Score Inquiry?

A soft credit score inquiry is when a credit report is requested, but not for the purpose of giving you credit or a loan. For example, if you want to rent an apartment, the apartment company may do a soft inquiry just to make sure you haven’t defaulted on paying rent or on other loans in the past. They aren’t going to lend you any money, but they want to make sure you have a good record of paying debts. Another example would be when you check your own credit score. You aren’t going to be giving yourself a loan, but you may want to know it so you can try to improve it before requesting a loan. Free credit score companies like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle all use soft inquiries. Soft inquiries can be requested without your permission, and while these may show up in your credit report, they aren’t detrimental to your credit score in any way like the hard inquiries can be.

Why Do Hard Inquiries Hurt Your Credit Score?

A single hard inquiry shouldn’t hurt your credit score too much. It might take a few points off of it, but this usually isn’t any concern in the scheme of things. If, however, you have several hard inquiries in a short period of time, this can send up red flags that you’re having money issues. When the credit bureaus see several hard inquiries in a short period of time, the assumption is you may be in dire need of credit or there’s some reason you aren’t qualifying for credit. Both these are seen as greater risks of you not being able to pay back loans or credit, and thus your score will fall.

Will Using Credit Karma, Credit Sesame or Quizzle Hurt My Credit Score?

Since Credit Karma and other sites like it use soft inquiries to give you your credit score at no cost, they won’t adversely affect your credit score. The credit bureaus know that soft inquiries are for informational purposes, not for trying to get more credit, and thus they are usually ignored by the credit bureaus when it comes to your score, even when there are a number of them made over a short period of time. For this reason, using free credit score companies that use soft inquiries to get your score won’t end up hurting it.

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These are general rules of when a hard and soft inquiry are made, but be sure to ask. I got into trouble when I thought a soft inquiry was getting made and it ended up being a hard one. Dropped my score and I had to pay more on a loan I got a few weeks later.

If you have a credit card that gives you your credit score (I have Discover), it comes every month and you can see it doesn’t hurt the score even though they are getting it for you each month. Soft pulls won’t hurt it.

I fail to understand the infatuation some have with wanting to know their credit score. If you are not currently looking for credit then it really does not matter what your credit score is.

Please, please, please. Read Dave Ramsey and know the truth. Your credit score = your debt score. You can only have a good credit score by piling up lots of debt. You shouldn’t be proud of a high credit score, you should be ashamed at all the debt you had to pile up to get it.

What you want is a zero credit score. That means you’re debt free. If you have a credit score, you are doing it all wrong.

yeah I just chip off some gold every time buy something. No need for a car loan or mortgage, I just hand over a few large chunks. Sure its heaver then an Amex but its worth it to keep my credit score at zero

by your explanations, you don’t know how credit scores work. A person can have a high credit score and be completely debt free. It’s not a debt score at all.

If I check my credit score on Credit Karma would it hurt my credit score?

1. Payment history (longer the better) 35%

2. Time in bureau (longer the better) 15%

3. Types of credit (mix of credit cards & installment loans) 10%

4. New credit (new accounts and inquiries) 10%

5. Debt to credit ratio (lower the better) 30%

1. How much you make or how long you have been on your job.

2. Where you live or how long you have been there.

3. Any account not considered real credit like cell phones, rent, utilities, cable, insurance or gym memberships.

Will a balance transfer hurt my credit score?

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We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

At a glance: The best balance transfer credit cards

If you’re trying to tame credit card debt, the burden of juggling multiple card payments and watching your balances swell with interest charges won’t help.

A balance transfer card can simplify your debt while removing new interest from the equation, but it could impact your credit scores in good and not-so-good ways.

It also won’t fix any financial habits that led to the debt in the first place.

“If someone is just using the card to stay afloat — as a financial life preserver — there’s probably something a little more going on in terms of personal finance,” says Freddie Huynh, vice president of credit risk analytics at Freedom Financial Asset Management.

“If used properly in the right situation, [balance transfers] are tools that can help a consumer in the long term.”

Does a balance transfer affect my credit score?

In short, yes. When you take out a new credit card, a hard inquiry is added to your credit reports and the average age of your accounts decreases. This may negatively impact your scores. But if you haven't made any major changes to your other credit lines, then your overall credit utilization will also decrease. This is a positive change to your credit. More on that later.

Let’s look at how balance transfers and your credit scores are connected. We’ll also go over how to plan your transfer so you can avoid hurting your current credit scores.

A balance transfer allows you to move an existing balance from one or more credit cards to a single card — usually one with a low or 0 percent introductory interest rate.

Your level of debt won’t change, but the main benefit is this: During a 0 percent interest introductory period, your debt won’t grow with interest charges while you work to get it under control.

The best balance transfer credit cards typically offer a 0 percent intro annual percentage rate (APR) for a specified period, usually 12 to 21 months.

Let’s look at an example of how this works. Say you have the following cards in your wallet:

(your new balance transfer card)

You’re motivated, so you want to pay off the balances on Cards 1, 2 and 3 in the next 12 months. Transferring those balances onto Card 4, which has a 0 percent intro APR for the first 12 months, could save you up to $665 in interest.

Just don’t forget to factor in the balance transfer fee (if there is one) when calculating your net savings. Balance transfer fees are typically 3 percent of the amount you wish to transfer.

What should I do if I don't get a high enough credit limit to transfer all my credit card debt?

You may get approved for a balance transfer credit card, only to turn around and find out the credit limit is lower than you'd hoped. In this case, transfer what you can but make a plan for how you’re going to pay down the debt remaining on your high interest cards, in addition to your new balance transfer. If you make regular, on-time payments, you can ask for a higher limit down the road, but it’s up to the issuer to approve the request.

Finding the right balance transfer credit card

There’s no one-size-fits-all balance transfer card. That said, certain cards tend to stand out as good options for a variety of reasons.

Chase Slate® is popular because it has a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months (after that, it converts to a regular variable APR of 16.24% - 24.99%) and a $0 fee if you transfer the balance within 60 days of account opening. If you transfer the balance after 60 days of account opening, you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee of 5% or $5 minimum.

From our partner

From cardholders in the last year

16.24% - 24.99%* Variable

  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • $0 Annual Fee

* See the online provider's credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the provider's website.

Other people may need a card that has a longer low-interest period. Although Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card charges a balance transfer fee (5%; minimum: $5), the 0% intro APR for 21 months may help you save more in interest charges than you would pay for the fee. Just note that, after the intro period, the regular variable APR for balance transfers jumps to 14.24% - 24.24%.

From our partner

From cardholders in the last year

14.24% - 24.24%* Variable

  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that the variable APR will be 14.24% - 24.24%, based on your creditworthiness*
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 14.24% - 24.24%, based on your creditworthiness*
  • If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balance, are paid in full
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • $0 liability on unauthorized purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
  • No annual fee*
  • Free access to FICO® Scores*

* See the online provider's credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the provider's website.

Use these questions to help you decide which type of card you may need:

  • What kind of credit do you need to get the card? Credit Karma members can check their Approval Odds to get an idea of how likely they are to be approved for the card. Credit Karma looks at how your credit profile compares to other Credit Karma members who were approved for the card. Heads up: Approval Odds are only guidelines, and they don’t guarantee approval. Ultimately, the credit card company has the final say.
  • Does the card allow you to transfer debt from another account or loan issued by the same bank? Chase, for example, prohibits this with Chase Slate®, and it’s a common restriction among issuers.
  • Will the card limit how much you can transfer?
  • What’s the length of the introductory APR?
  • Is there a time frame in which you’ll need to make the transfer to benefit from the introductory offer?
  • Is there a balance transfer fee?

Check out more balance transfer cards Shop now

What factors make up my credit scores, anyway?

You’ve found the card that’s right for you. Now let’s go over how your credit is scored before we get into how it will be impacted.

Your credit scores are determined by a variety of factors, and a balance transfer may affect some of those factors. Here are the score components most likely to feel the effects of a balance transfer:

  • Credit utilization, or how much of your credit you’re using compared to how much you have available. This is usually expressed as a percentage and most experts recommend keeping your overall credit utilization below 30 percent.
  • Length of credit history, or how long you’ve had credit lines open.
  • New credit, when you open new accounts.

Note that there are several different credit scoring models out there, and each model may weigh credit factors differently.

If you want to get an idea of what your VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from TransUnion and Equifax look like before applying for a balance transfer card, you can do so for free with Credit Karma.

Balance transfers and your credit scores

As you go through the steps involved in completing a balance transfer, your credit may be impacted in different ways.

When you apply for the new credit card, the issuer will create a hard inquiry on your reports. This may lower your credit scores by a few points, and the inquiry may stay on your reports for about two years.

Consider the example we used above. The average account age of Card 1, Card 2 and Card 3 is 36 months. But once you open Card 4, the average age of your accounts falls from 36 months to 24 months.

Huynh says this drop in your average account age could modestly impact your scores, or there may be no impact at all.

A balance transfer isn’t necessarily all bad news for your credit. While your credit history takes a dip, your credit utilization may actually improve.

Let’s go back to that example again. Before getting Card 4, you have a total credit limit (across the three cards) of $13,000, and you’re using about 42 percent of your total credit limit.

With the balance transfer and the addition of a new card with a $10,000 credit limit, your total credit limit climbs to $23,000 and your credit utilization falls to about 24 percent. Such a dramatic decrease in your overall credit utilization may result in a substantial credit improvement, Huynh says.

There’s one big-time caveat to keep in mind, though. Huynh warns that certain credit score models can either look at your overall credit utilization or the utilization on individual credit cards.

If the score focuses on the utilization of each card, your credit may be negatively impacted because your debt is now entirely on one card.

What to do after the balance transfer

So, you’ve completed a balance transfer. That’s awesome! But before patting yourself on the back, there’s some work left to do.

As you pay down your debt, consider keeping all your cards open, which will show your positive payment history, help boost the average age of your accounts and help you maintain a low overall credit utilization (all potentially great for your credit).

Paying your credit card bill on time every month may also boost your credit, as payment history accounts for a significant impact on your scores. And when you finally pay off that debt, your amounts owed will fall, which may also positively impact your credit.

If you decide to complete a balance transfer, understand that your scores may dip in the short term. That’s because you’ll decrease your average account age and increase the credit utilization on a single card.

But the great thing about credit scores is their resilience: When you use credit responsibly over time — making on-time payments and eventually paying off debt — your credit should rise again.

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© 2007–2018 Credit Karma, Inc. Credit Karma™ is a registered trademark of Credit Karma, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Product name, logo, brands, and other trademarks featured or referred to within Credit Karma are the property of their respective trademark holders. This site may be compensated through third party advertisers.

iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.

Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

The Equifax logo is a registered trademark owned by Equifax in the United States and other countries.

Credit Karma Doesn't Hurt Your Credit Score, and Here's Why

Credit Karma is a free online service that allows you to check your credit score for free. It is a self-initiated soft credit inquiry, which is different from a hard credit inquiry in that it leaves your credit report untouched. Members can check their credit scores as often as they wish and trust that no points will be detracted.

The three nationwide credit-reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion and Experian, each allow users to access one free credit report annually but require them to pay for additional copies. Credit Karma provides free weekly updated credit reports and scores. But, don't let the word 'free', fool you. Credit Karma makes money when users sign up for credit cards or loans that it offers on its website. It provides leads to lenders that advertise with it. It discloses how it makes money and the information it gathers from you clearly on its website. Credit Karma also helps users manage debt, keep track of their credit, organize their budget, straddle their loans and keep on top of routine tasks, such as amortization. The service helps users dispute errors on their credit reports, reduce high interest, pace their mortgage, calculate how long it would take to pay off their credit card debt and determine interest rates and terms for different loans. As of August 2016, Credit Karma had over 60 million members and 250 employees. The service is free.

Why Credit Karma Won't Harm Your Credit Score

Credit Karma checks your FICO score on your behalf and therefore conducts soft inquiries. Soft inquiries differ from hard inquiries in that they leave your credit scores untouched. Multiple hard inquiries done in a short period of time can knock off as much as five points per inquiry and can stay on the record for upward of two years.

Hard inquires occur when people apply for a mortgage, or for auto, student, business or personal loans, or for a credit card. They also occur when someone requests a credit limit increase. While one or two hard inquiries a year may hardly dent credit scores, if at all, six or more hard inquiries at once can cause harm. Credit bureaus tend to deduct points, particularly if the person has a short credit history, or only a few accounts. Credit bureaus interpret multiple hard inquiries as showing that the person may be a high-risk borrower. The bureaus suspect that the person may be desperate for credit or was unable to get the credit needed from other creditors. MyFICO reports that people with multiple hard inquiries are eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than other people with no bankruptcies on their reports.

Soft inquiries, on the other hand, pivot around investigations, such as credit checks made by businesses who offer goods or services, employer background checks, getting preapproved for credit card offers and checking personal credit scores. They may also be inquires made by businesses with whom people already have accounts. Most of these inquiries are not lending decisions. They’re considered promotional and conditional, and therefore, won’t affect the person's score. Soft inquiries can be done without the person’s permission and may, or may not, be reported on the credit report, depending on the credit bureau.

Other activities, such as applying to rent an apartment or car, getting a cable or internet account, having your identity verified by a financial institution, such as a credit union or stock brokerage, or opening a checking, savings or money market account may result in a hard or soft inquiry, depending on the credit card bureau or type of institution that instigates the inquiry. Credit Karma requests the information on its member’s behalf, so it is a soft inquiry and therefore does not lower the member's credit score.

Credit Karma, in line with similar organizations such as Credit Sesame and MyFICO, advertises easy-to-read credit reports, personalized score insights and free credit monitoring that help members spot potential identity theft, among other options. While the service is free to users, Credit Karma makes money when those users sign up for loans and credit cards advertised on its website.



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