What happens when my credit report is checked?

checking credit score on iPhone

There are two ways your credit report can be checked – often referred to as a hard search and a soft search. The difference between the two usually depends on who’s checking your report and why. And each type of search has a different effect on your credit score.

What is a hard search?

Hard searches can have an effect on your credit score and on future applications you make. That’s because they’re visible to other lenders. When you apply for credit, the lender will do a hard search of your credit report to help decide if they should lend to you. It’s important to note that the outcome of your application isn’t recorded on your credit report. It’ll just show that a lender searched your report, not whether your application was approved or refused. For some lenders, several searches in a short period is a sign that you might be struggling with your finances so this could end up negatively affecting your application. It’s likely that a hard search will also affect your Experian Credit Score. That’s because our score is designed to give you an idea of how a lender will view your credit report.

What is a soft search?

On the other hand, a soft search isn’t recorded on your credit report for others to see so it has no effect on your score or future applications. When you use comparison sites like Experian, your credit report is checked as a soft search. It’s only if you then apply for credit that the lender will do a hard search. People often think that checking their own credit score will lower it. But that’s just not the case. You can check your own Experian Credit Score whenever you like, without impacting it.

When was the last time you checked your Experian Credit Score?

Log in to your Experian account and check your score

James Jones (Head of Consumer affairs Experian UK&I)
Written by James Jones, Head of Consumer Affairs, Experian UK&I