When Do Soft Credit Checks Happen?

Woman holding credit card to head

Being able to manage your finances is an essential part of life, but with so much information available, it can feel a little overwhelming. From debit cards to credit cards, and mortgages to investments, there are plenty of terms to wrap your head around.

At some point in our lives, most of us will apply for some form of credit. You might just think that this only covers credit cards, but it also covers any time when you purchase a product, but pay later – for example, mortgages, student loans and household bills. 

One of the checks that happens when you apply for credit is a soft inquiry or check. In this article, we will cover what a soft check is and other key questions.

What is a soft credit check?

There are two different types of credit check for individuals: soft checks and hard checks. A hard credit check affects your overall credit score, whereas a soft check doesn’t. Also known as a soft inquiry or a soft pull, a soft credit check will show the viewer several basic personal details.

What does a soft credit check show?

A soft credit check will typically show:

  • Your name
  • Home address
  • Date of birth
  • A list of the current credit lines you have
  • Your payment history
  • Who you’re financially linked to, e.g. your partner
  • Public information about any bankruptcies and individual voluntary agreements for the last six years

When may you have a soft credit check performed?

Soft credit checks are used in a variety of situations – it’s not just your bank, or you checking your own report. Common times you might experience a soft check include:

1. Before starting a new job. 

Prospective employers run soft checks to verify your identity, as well as see how you are handling money. This skill can be vital in jobs like accounting, retail and finance.

2. Applying for insurance

Some companies use a soft check to give you accurate quotes based on your credit history. In this case, they don’t get to see your actual credit score, but a ‘credit-based insurance score’ based on part of your history, rather than all of it. This is then used to decide whether you’re likely to claim on your policy.

3. Applying for a credit card 

These companies are able to run a basic credit check so they pre-qualify you for accounts, and try to get you to sign up for their credit card. By checking your credit in advance, they can filter their offering so that you’re able to progress with an application. 

There are several things to consider before getting a credit card, though. 

4. Getting an agreement in principle

When you are looking to put an offer in on a house, you will likely need an agreement in principle to prove you can afford the offered amount. When applying for a mortgage, your mortgage provider will perform a soft credit check before giving you the agreement in principle. 

Do soft credit checks show on my credit report?

No. Soft credit checks do not show on your credit report.

A hard credit check also looks at all the information we mentioned above, but the difference between the two is that hard checks are available for other lenders to see on your credit report, whereas soft checks are only visible to you.

Bear in mind that there are several different credit bureaus, and your soft check will only show on the bureau that you did the check with. So, if you request a report from another bureau, the check you ran won’t be there.

Do companies need my permission to run a soft check?

Companies in the UK have to ask for your permission to access your personal data, but they don’t have to ask each time they want to run a check. So, it’s likely that this will be included in the T&Cs when you sign up – something many of us just quickly click through. 

Having a soft check run on your file isn’t something you need to be worried about, but it is good to know who you have given access to your data.

How long does a soft credit check last?

Where soft credit checks are not attached to a specific credit application, there is no impact on your overall credit score. This also means soft credit checks do not last long as they can be performed regularly. Hard credit checks, however, can last up to 2 years.

We hope this article answered any questions that you may have had about soft credit checks. If you are still worried about your score, there are many ways to improve your credit score.

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