How long do hard inquiries stay on your credit report?

When you or a company asks to see your credit file, there are two types of inquiries that might appear on your credit reports: soft inquiries and hard inquiries. 

While soft inquiries show up on your credit reports, they don’t appear to lenders and they don’t affect your credit scores. But hard inquiries are different. They can affect your credit scores and stay on credit reports for months, even years.   

But just how long do hard inquiries remain on your credit reports? Read on to learn more about hard inquiries and how they can affect your credit.

Key takeaways

  • While a hard inquiry can stay on your credit reports for up to two years, it generally affects your scores for one year.
  • Lenders perform hard inquiries when you apply for loans and other major lines of credit.
  • The impact of a hard inquiry may depend on your credit history.

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What is a hard inquiry?

When you apply for a new credit card, a home loan or another line of credit, the potential lender will request information about your credit history. This action is called a hard inquiry, or a hard pull, and you’ll typically see it appear on one or more of your credit reports.

Other examples of when your credit might undergo a hard inquiry include:

Hard inquiry vs. soft inquiry

A hard inquiry differs from what’s called a soft inquiry, or soft pull. A soft inquiry can result from checking your own credit report. Soft credit inquiries could also be a result of:

How long does a hard inquiry stay on your credit report?

Hard inquiries are taken off your credit reports after two years. But your credit scores may only be affected for a year, and sometimes it might only be for a few months. 

Lenders may be concerned if you have too many hard inquiries on your credit report within a short period of time. However, there are some exceptions to this.

For example, if you’re shopping around for a mortgage or car loan, it makes sense that you might be comparing rates with different lenders. For that reason, rate shopping within a certain time frame—generally 14 to 45 days, depending on the credit-scoring model—could be treated as just a single hard inquiry.

Like hard inquiries, soft inquiries will stay on your credit reports for up to two years. But remember: Soft inquiries won’t affect your credit scores.

How does a hard inquiry affect credit?

While a hard inquiry does impact your credit scores, it typically only causes them to drop by about five points, according to credit-scoring company FICO®. And if you have a good credit history, the impact may be even less. That said, it’s helpful to know that credit inquiries make up about 10% of your total FICO® score. Keep in mind there are other credit-scoring companies and models that a lender could use.

If you’re looking to secure a large loan, like a mortgage, you may not want to apply for other new credit around the same time. This may help minimize the risk that your credit scores will drop before you apply for the larger loan.

You could also keep up with your credit status by pulling your free credit reports from the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion®, Experian® and Equifax®. You can retrieve free copies of your credit reports by visiting

Additionally, CreditWise from Capital One can help you access your TransUnion credit reports and your weekly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score. Using CreditWise won’t hurt your credit scores, and it’s free for everyone, whether or not you have a Capital One product.

Can you remove hard inquiries from a credit report?

Removing a credit inquiry from your credit report may be doable if it’s the outcome of identity theft or fraud. You’ll need to file a dispute with the three major credit bureaus to ask for it to be removed. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has more information about this.

However, if you put a hard inquiry in motion by applying for a new line of credit, you can’t have it removed.

Hard inquiries on credit reports in a nutshell

Although hard inquiries can remain on your credit reports for up to two years and temporarily lower your credit scores, responsible credit use can help you rebound over time.

But you’ll want to keep an eye on your credit reports to stay informed about your current credit situation. Learn more about the differences between hard and soft inquiries and how to check your credit reports and scores.

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