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How long does credit check affect score?

Leslie McFaddenq_v2.gifDear Credit Card Adviser,
Can you please tell me how long it takes for a credit check to go away and put my score back to what it was? I had a credit check for a credit card, but I am trying to get the highest score possible and I want to know how long it takes for the hit not to show. I hope you can help.
--MaryAnn

a_v2.gifDear MaryAnn,
First, I have to comment on your attempt to get your score "back to what it was." Scores fluctuate with changes in risk. Even when the inquiry comes off the credit report, your credit score could decrease for other reasons, such as a high balance-to-credit-limit ratio, or utilization, which makes up 30 percent of your score.

Now, on to your question. Credit inquiries stay on your credit report for two years, but the FICO scoring model, used by most lenders, only counts them during the first year.

However, the expiration of some types of inquiries shouldn't warrant any worry. The FICO score only considers voluntary inquiries made when you apply for credit, such as credit cards, auto loans or mortgages. These are known as "hard" inquiries, and they can ding your score. The algorithm ignores every other type of credit check, including those for employment, existing account reviews or those "pre-approved" credit card solicitations. Checking your own credit report or score does not hurt your credit rating either. Lenders can't see these so-called "soft" inquiries when they review your credit report.

The FICO score model consolidates mortgage and auto loan inquiries made within typical rate-shopping periods, which varies by scoring model. According to myFICO.com, newer versions of the scoring model count inquiries older than 30 days as one inquiry if made in 45-day clusters, while older versions group inquiries made within any two-week span as one. Inquiries younger than 30 days at the time of the credit check are ignored by the score.

As far as attaining the "highest score possible" -- which on the FICO scale would be an 850 -- don't bother climbing to the top of Mount Score. A score in the upper 700s should secure the best rates and terms.

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