What is a Hard Inquiry?

A hard inquiry is a lender's investigation of an applicant's credit history for the purpose of approving or declining a loan or extension of credit.

How Does a Hard Inquiry Work?

A hard inquiry helps a bank or credit card company assess the risk that an applicant will default on his or her repayment obligations. For example, an individual applying for a mortgage can expect the prospective lender to conduct a hard inquiry on his or her credit report. Individuals with higher credit ratings are more likely to be approved for loans and credit than those with lower credit scores.

Why Does a Hard Inquiry Matter?

A hard inquiry can adversely affect an applicant's credit rating depending on the type of loan. The reason is that certain loan applications suggest to credit agencies that an individual is (or may become) less solvent and, consequently, needs (or may need) cash.

[InvestingAnswers Feature: 9 Seemingly Innocent Ways to Severely Damage Your Credit Score]

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Paul Tracy
Paul Tracy

Paul has been a respected figure in the financial markets for more than two decades. Prior to starting InvestingAnswers, Paul founded and managed one of the most influential investment research firms in America, with more than 3 million monthly readers.

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