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8/9/08

Can Applying for Loans Bring Down Your Credit Score?

A credit score has many components. Each component weighs differently on your credit score. For example, having a late payment recorded on your credit report will cause more damage to your credit score than will having too many inquiries on your credit report. However, it is important to know that regardless of what the negative information is, such information will stay on your credit report for many years. As such, you will want to weigh the consequences of the negative impact on your credit score against the advantage of applying for and obtaining a loan.

Applying for a loan can negatively impact your credit score in more than one way. First and foremost, whenever you apply for a loan (whether it is for a house, a car, a student loan, a personal loan, etc.) the bank or lending institution to which you applied is going to run a credit check on you to calculate the risk involved in lending you the money. The riskier you are, the higher your interest rates and/or fees will be. If you are too risky, you will be denied a loan.

When the bank or lending institution conducts a credit report check to calculate the risk level involved, each check is recorded as an "inquiry" on your credit report. Banks and lending institutions look to see how many inquires are on your credit report for a set period of time. If you have "too many" inquiries, this tells the bank or lending institution that you are trying to borrow money and thus, this means that you are acquiring or attempting to acquire a lot of debt. As such, you may not have the money to pay back a loan. Therefore, this makes you a risky loan and you will either have to pay more interest and fees or will be denied outright.

However, even though these inquiries are recorded on your credit report, this does not mean that every one of them negatively affects you credit score. The key is not to get "too many." The exact number that crosses the "too many" threshold is not exact, but to be on the safe side, you should try to keep the inquiries to no more than 3 per year. Remember, every time that you apply for a credit card or any type of loan, an inquiry is recorded on your credit report.

The other way that applying for a loan can damage your credit score is if you are approved for the loan. If you are approved for a loan, it will affect your credit to debt ratio. If you get a loan, this will create more debt. The closer you are to "maxing out" your credit limits, the worse off your credit score will be. The reason for this is because if you have no available credit, banks and lending institutions will be concerned that you have reached your limits and will have trouble paying off your debt. As such, there is a higher chance that you will default and thus, a higher chance that the bank or lending institution will not get paid.

As stated above, because of these negatives, you have to weigh the cost of getting a loan against the benefits of obtaining the same. Make sure you are applying for and receiving a loan for a good purpose (buying a home that you can afford, getting a college education, making a good investment) and are not obtaining a loan for something you do not need.

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