Using a credit card responsibly is one of the best ways to improve your credit score over time. However, anyone who’s been working to push that three-digit number closer to 700 knows that applying for a new credit card can sometimes hurt your score.
One way to find a new credit card without affecting your credit score is to use Credit One Bank’s new pre-approved offer tool that allows you to check if Credit One Bank already has a pre-approved offer for you. Simply input your first and last name as well as the last four digits of your Social Security number, which will be automatically encrypted. It’s safe, secure and just that easy!
Another way is to see if you pre-qualify for a credit card. Not all companies offer a pre-qualification process, but the ones that do, like Credit One Bank, let you know the chances of getting approved for a card without the impact on your credit report.
What does ‘pre-approved’ mean?
Being pre-approved for a credit card means the card issuer has determined that you meet the minimum criteria for the card and will most likely be approved when you apply. These offers sometimes come in the mail, or you may need to fill out a short form online. The card issuers verify this by doing a soft credit inquiry vs. a hard credit inquiry.
What is a soft inquiry vs. a hard inquiry?
A soft inquiry refers to any credit check that occurs as part of a background check, such as getting pre-approved for a credit card or insurance, checking your credit score through a service, or as part of a background check for employment. These soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score, and in some cases may not even be recorded on your credit report.
On the other hand, a hard inquiry occurs any time you formally apply for some form of credit, such as apartment rentals, auto loans, credit cards, mortgages, as well as personal or student loans. These hard pulls are recorded on your credit report and may impact your score. In most cases, having one or two hard inquiries won’t hurt you by more than a few points. However, having too many within a year can dock your score.
How long does an inquiry stay on your credit report?
Most hard inquiries will impact your credit score for only six to 12 months; however, they can stay on your report for up to two years. If you find an inquiry on your report that you did not authorize, you can call or write to the creditor asking them to remove it.
What are some credit card best practices?
More than two-thirds of your FICO® Score is determined by your payment history and the amounts owed. This means that the best things you can do to maintain and improve your score over time are to make payments in full and own time each month. Missing payments or making payments late could dock your score, just as carrying too high of balance could also bring it down.