You may have heard that when a bank or lender performs a credit check, that can potentially reduce your credit score, making it harder to borrow money in the future. However, checking your own credit score isn’t the same as a credit check from a bank, and does not hurt your credit score. Here’s why.
Hard Credit Checks vs Soft Credit Checks
There are two types of credit checks that can be recorded in your credit history – hard credit checks and soft credit checks.
Hard credit checks occur when you apply to borrow money from a bank or similar lender, such as when you apply for a home loan, personal loan, car loan, or a credit card.
Soft credit checks occur when your credit file is accessed outside of applications to borrow money, such as when you check your own credit score or credit history.
How can hard credit checks affect your credit score?
Each hard credit check recorded in your credit file indicates an application to borrow money.
Multiple hard credit checks over a short term could indicate you’re experiencing money problems and are desperate for credit.
This could lead lenders to reject your credit applications, further lowering your credit score.
Can soft credit checks help to improve your credit score?
Because checking your credit score is an request for information, not an application to borrow money, it should not affect a lender’s decision to accept or decline your credit applications. This means that soft checks of your credit score are unlikely to affect your credit score, positively or negatively.
However, a soft check of your credit history could potentially be the first step towards improving your credit score. Accessing your credit history could help you find any errors that may be recorded there, such as mistakes from lenders or cases of identity theft. Contacting the parties involved to get these errors cleared up could help to improve your credit score as your credit history will be more accurate.
Are there other ways to improve a credit score?
Thanks to Comprehensive Credit Reporting (CCR), positive credit behaviours are recorded in your credit history as well as negative credit behaviours.
This means that if you’re able to consistently pay your bills on time, clear outstanding debts, and reduce the credit limits on credit cards or other lines of credit, these positive credit behaviours may start to improve your credit score over time.