What is a Hard Credit Search?

Young couple applying for mortgage

What is a Hard Credit Search?

When you apply for credit, the company you’ve applied to will check your credit report. This can be an application for a mortgage, a credit card or a mobile phone for example. This is known as a hard credit search, or hard credit check. Unlike a soft credit search, a hard credit search means that the company will look into your credit report themselves. This is a key difference between a soft and a hard credit search – a hard credit search is more of a formal inquiry into your credit report, a soft credit search is often based on information you have provided.

Lenders will take your application and decide whether you're able to afford the credit agreement and how likely you to make payments on time. When a hard credit search like this is made, this can appear on your credit report.

Why do Hard Credit Searches Affect My Credit Score

When you make a formal application for credit a hard credit search will likely appear on your credit report. If you make several applications for credit in a short space of time, this may show banks and lenders that you represent a risk when offering credit. A series of hard credit searches over a short period can also be seen as a need for borrowing too often. This may negatively affect your credit score.

Can I Avoid Hard Credit Searches?

When making an application for credit, it is likely that a hard credit search will be made. You can expect a hard credit search when applying for a mortgage, applying for a loan, or applying for a credit card.

While hard credit searches cannot always be avoided when applying for credit, a hard credit search cannot be made without your consent. This consent is often covered in the lender’s credit agreement terms and conditions. If you are unsure if the agreement will include a hard credit search, you should be able to find this out from the third party you’re making the agreement with.

You can take a look at the details of all your recent hard and soft searches using the Equifax Credit Report & Score. This gives access to your personal credit score, as well as the means to manage your credit report.

This article was written on 20th September 2021; all information was correct at the time of writing. Now that you’ve read about hard credit search, read our article on soft credit searches.

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