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Soft vs. hard credit checks: what's the difference?

Jun 21, 2018

A credit check happens when someone checks your credit report to get an idea of your creditworthiness. But did you know there are different types? Here’s the lowdown in under two minutes – from the experts at LOQBOX.

Here’s what you need to know about the two main types of credit check.

Hard credit check

These happen when lenders perform a full credit check at the point of lending. They’ll have full visibility of everything on your credit file, and leave a ‘footprint’ – meaning other checks in the future will see a record of this one.

Too many hard credit checks will harm your credit score.

Lenders typically run hard credit checks for things like mortgages, mobile phone applications, loans, credit cards and car finance.

Soft credit check

A relatively recent development, these only give an indication of your chances of getting credit. But the big advantage is they leave no footprint, saving you from piling up hard checks on your credit file if you’re shopping around.

Most comparison sites use a soft search to check the whole market at once. They send your details to one or more third parties who compare your soft search results against people who have successfully borrowed from various lenders.

Your chances of being accepted are usually given as a percentage or a mark out of ten. Some lenders will even pre-approve you based on this soft search.

Once you decide to apply, your chosen lender will run a hard credit check.

To protect your credit history, always try and use a soft credit check before making your final application. Emma’s story shows how much a hard credit check can negatively affect your credit file.

This post was written and compiled by the credit experts behind LOQBOX – a completely free way to build your credit history by saving a little each month. To sign up or read more about the clever way LOQBOX works, head to

This is part of our Two-minute Money blog series – unlocking the secrets of the financial system, two minutes at a time.

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