What are inquiries and how do they affect my FICO score?
Credit inquiries are requests by a "legitimate business" to check your credit.
As far as your FICO score is concerned, credit inquiries are classified as either "hard inquiries" or "soft inquiries"
Only hard inquiries influence your FICO score.
Soft inquiries are all credit inquiries where your credit is not being reviewed by a prospective lender. These include inquiries where you're checking your own credit (such as checking your score in my FICO).
Credit checks made by businesses to offer you goods or services (such as promotional offers by credit card companies), or inquiries made by businesses with whom you already have a credit account.
Hard Inquiries are inquiries where a potential lender is reviewing your credit because you've applied for credit with them. These include credit checks when you've applied
for an auto loan, mortgage or credit card. Each of these types of credit checks count as a single inquiry. One exception occurs when you are "rate shopping". That's a smart thing to do, and your FICO score considers all inquiries within a 45 day period for a mortgage, an auto loan or a student loan as a single inquiry. This same guideline also applies to a search for a rental property such as an apartment. These inquiries are usually recorded by the credit bureau as a type of real estate-related inquiry, so the FICO Score will treat them the same way. You can avoid lowering your FICO Score by doing your apartment hunting within a brief period.