When do credit inquiries hit score?

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In today’s post, I want to address a reader’s question regarding credit inquiries. Inquiries are notations on your credit report that indicate when someone has checked your credit file. Only the “hard” inquiries associated with an application for a new financial obligation, such as a loan or credit card, impact your credit score.

A single inquiry typically costs very few points to the score. The Bankrate feature, “How credit inquiries affect credit score” goes into more detail on the subject.

Last week, one Bankrate reader, Debra James, brought up a great question regarding inquiries — how long does it take for inquiries to impact credit scores? In a comment on a blog post, James asked, “Can you tell me if the credit score that a company pulls immediately reflects the score ‘ding’ that happens because of the credit report inquiry?”

I checked with both Steven Katz, a spokesman for Chicago-based credit reporting agency TransUnion, and a representative at FICO for the answer.

“Ultimately, the question boils down to whether the hard inquiry is posted to the credit report in real time, prior to the score being calculated,” Ethan Dornhelm, Principal Scientist with FICO, said in an e-mail response.

Your credit rating only reflects the information in your credit report at the time of the score calculation.

It turns out that inquiries don’t report instantly. “A lender does not see the inquiry its own pull generated when viewing the report it just pulled,” Katz wrote.

He says they will appear on the credit report typically within 30 days.

Dornhelm says that even if inquiries tied to a mortgage, auto or student loan reported in real time, the FICO formula has “logic in place to ensure that these inquiries would be bypassed from the score calculation.” The FICO score ignores such inquiries in the 30 days prior to scoring.

So, you can rest assured that an inquiry triggered by an application for credit won’t by itself harm your chances for approval. It won’t take long to show up on your credit report, but there is a lag time in the reporting of inquiries.

Do you have a question about your credit score?

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