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How often can you credit score without hurting score?

How often can you check your credit score without hurting our score? We want to buy a home so we recently paid off our credit cards but our credit report still shows a balance.

Harry Jensen, Trusted Mortgage Expert with 45+ Years of Experience
, Trusted Mortgage Expert with 45+ Years of Experience

You can check your own credit score as many times as you want without hurting your score. Checking your own credit score is known as a soft inquiry and although this type of inquiry is recorded on your credit report, it does not lower your credit score. There are many services that enable you to monitor your credit score for free. Using these services does not hurt your score and enables you to track changes in account balances and track your credit progress.

Please note that the credit score provided by most of the free credit monitoring services is based on your VantageScore which is different than the FICO credit score used by most lenders when you apply for a mortgage or other loan. Although your VantageScore should be directionally similar to your FICO score, there may be a 30 to 50 point difference depending on how accurate and updated the information used by each score is.

Despite this potential discrepancy, the free credit monitoring services can help you identify and address potential credit issues such as late payments, accounts in collection or charge offs. All of these issues can negatively impact your credit score and make it more challenging for you qualify for a mortgage and buy a home.

Review Credit Score Required to Qualify for a Mortgage

Additionally, if you resolve a credit issue or pay off or pay down an account balance, you can use the credit monitoring services to make sure that your credit profile reflects these changes. You want you credit score to be based on the most up-to-date account information possible.

For example, it can take approximately two months for your credit score to reflect a change in your credit profile such as paying off credit card debt. If it takes longer for your credit profile to update, we recommend that you contact the creditor, such as your credit card company, to make sure it has provided updated account information to the credit bureaus.

If there continues to be a delay in updating your score or credit information, your should reach out to the credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and Transunion -- to correct the issue. Please note that your credit score may continue to be impacted by negative credit events for several years after you resolve a credit issue or pay off a debt account, which could have an adverse effect on your score.

Additionally, we also recommend that you review your credit report, which contains much more detailed information on your loans and debt accounts than your credit score. You can also check your own credit report without lowering your credit score. Depending on the service you use, however, you many need to pay to review your report more than once a year.

We recommend that you review your credit score and credit report three-to-six months before you apply for a mortgage to buy a home. Reviewing your credit profile in advance of applying for a mortgage enables you to proactively resolve credit issues and correct any potential mistakes.

As we mentioned above, it can take several months for your credit score to update so the sooner you address credit issues and potentially realize an improvement in your score, the better. Having a higher credit score can help you qualify for a lower mortgage rate or become eligible for certain loan programs.

Mortgage terms vary by credit score and other factors. We recommend that you contact multiple lenders in the table below to compare mortgage quotes based on your personal circumstances. Shopping multiple lenders is the best way to save money on your mortgage.

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Current Mortgage Rates as of May 22, 2019
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Data provided by Informa Research Services. Payments do not include amounts for taxes and insurance premiums. Click for more information on rates and product details.

You can monitor your progress and check your score before you apply for the mortgage without hurting your score. When you are comfortable with your credit score (and report) it is time to apply for the mortgage and this is the point in the process when your score may be impacted.

When you submit your mortgage application, or an application for any type of loan, the lender pulls your credit report. When a lender pulls your credit report this is called a hard inquiry, which may affect your credit score.

This is because when you take out a new loan, your debt balance usually increases which may cause your credit score to dip, at least in the near-term. As long as you make your monthly loan payments on time, your score should eventually recover and potentially improve. Seeing your score drop, even temporarily, can be unsettling, so we recommend that you monitor your score on your own until you are ready to apply the mortgage, as opposed to having a lender pull multiple credit reports on your behalf over several months.

It is important to emphasize that when multiple mortgage lenders pull your credit score within a relatively short time period, this only counts as one credit event so you are not penalized multiple times for getting pre-approved for a mortgage or comparing multiple loan quotes.

This is why we recommend that you get pre-approved for your mortgage. Getting pre-approved enables you to identify potential issues with your credit profile and better positions you to make an offer on a home. Our mortgage pre-approval form is free, no obligation and does not impact your credit.

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Sources

Credit Scores and Reports: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/credit-reports-and-scores/

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About the author

Harry Jensen, Mortgage Expert

Harry is the co-founder of FREEandCLEAR. He is a mortgage expert with over 45 years of industry experience. Over his career, Harry has closed thousands of loans for satisfied borrowers and now offers his advice and insights on FREEandCLEAR. More about Harry

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