If you’re rate shopping to find the best interest rate on something like a mortgage or an auto loan, the major credit bureaus and FICO understand you’re likely to have multiple credit inquiries on your account. That’s why multiple inquiries for the same type of credit are considered to be a single inquiry if they occur within a specific time span. Older FICO scoring models consolidate inquiries made within two weeks, while the newest FICO score gives consumers 45 days to shop around for the best rates and terms.
However, if you apply for multiple credit cards in a short time period, each application will add a new hard credit inquiry to your credit report.
To sum up, The FICO Score models are designed to allow for rate shopping on loans, so they treat multiple inquiries related to loans of similar type as one, as long as they occur within a short time of one another.
A hard credit inquiry could lower your credit score by as much as 10 points, though in many cases the damage probably won’t be that significant. As FICO explains: “For most people, one additional credit inquiry will take less than five points off their FICO Scores.
Financing helps to spread out payments, to preserve cash for emergencies, help to pay for large purchases, and to build a solid credit score with a strong credit history. But most importantly it allows you to invest your money elsewhere such as retirement plans and Federal Money Market Funds. When paying cash you still “pay” an opportunity cost. In other words, you won’t collect earnings from investing that cash into a high-yield savings account. If your potential earnings outpace the interest you pay on a loan, financing is definitely worth considering.
Under federal law, you have the right to obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies once a year. To order your free annual credit report:
By telephone: Call toll-free: 1-877-322-8228
By Mail: Mail your completed Annual Credit Report Request Form (which you can obtain from Federal Trade Commission’s website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/include/requestformfinal.pdf) to: Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O.Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Transunion Credit Bureau customer service: 800-916-8800 or visit www.transunion.com/customer-support/support-options
Equifax Credit Bureau customer service: 888-378-4329 or visit https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-dispute/
Experian Credit Bureau customer service: 888-397-3742 or visit https://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html
Credit scores typically range between 300 and 900 where the higher the number the better the score is. Most scores are calculated following this model:
35-40% of your score is payment history (it shows how you manage your finances, including late payments)
20-30% credit utilization (what your credit limit is vs. what your credit card balance is. For example: your credit card limit is $10,000 and your current credit card balance is $5,000. It shows that you’re using 50% of your credit card limit. A good utilization rate is below 30%. However, Experian states that less than 10% is the best utilization ratio. In this example with a $10,000 credit card limit, your balance should be less than $1,000. Low credit utilization shows that you’re doing a good job of managing your credit responsibilities and you’re not overspending)
21% length of your credit (it demonstrates how long you’ve been managing your accounts)
11% the total amount of your loan balances
10% credit mix (it demonstrates that you can handle multiple types of loans such as credit cards, car loans, mortgages, personal loans, recreational loans, etc. Improving your credit mix can help you reach excellent credit score status such as “800 club”)