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Will personal loans impact my credit score?

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Rounding it up

  • Personal loans can have both positive and negative impacts on credit scores depending on how you manage them.

  • You’ll generally see a decrease in your credit score after applying for a personal loan because most lenders make hard inquiries on your credit report.

  • Managing a personal loan responsibly by making payments on time and in full each month can have positive impacts on your credit score in the long term.

  • Missing even a single personal loan payment can hurt your credit score while defaulting on your loan can have serious negative consequences for your rating over time.

  • Never borrow more money than you can afford to repay, and consult a financial coach if you’re not sure how to best manage your finances.

Personal loans are used to finance a wide array of different activities and life events, from consolidating debt to remodeling a home. But as is the case with any type of loan or line of credit, anyone looking to take out a personal loan should consider how doing so will impact their credit score.

If you’re wondering whether a personal loan will impact your credit score, the answer is fairly straightforward. As is the case with nearly any other type of loan, taking out a personal loan will have an effect on your credit. Everything from applying for a loan to making your payments can cause your score to change without warning.

But while we’re often concerned about the negative impacts of applying for a loan or opening a new line of credit, we tend to overlook the fact that being a responsible loan holder can actually improve your creditworthiness.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the impacts—both positive and negative—that personal loans typically have on people’s credit so you can be more knowledgeable about your finances.

What is a Personal Loan?

Before we can really discuss the impacts of personal loans on credit scores, we first need to get on the same page about what a personal loan even is.

Personal loans can take many forms, but most people use them when they want a relatively low-cost way to obtain financing that falls out of the scope of something like a home mortgage or a student loan.

Of course, there are some high interest rate personal loans out there, so you have to do your own due diligence when shopping for them to ensure that you get a good deal. But most personal loans have lower interest rates of between 3% to 8%. These rates are substantially lower than the 15% to 20% interest rate you get with most credit cards and the 25% to 30% rates you typically get with predatory payday loans.

Personal loans work much like any other loan. You first need to get approved for the loan from a loan provider (normally a bank or financial institution) for a specific purpose. You can typically use a personal loan for nearly anything you’d like from home repairs to consolidating debt, but some lenders might have restrictions on what you can use the funds for.

If you’re approved for a personal loan, you’ll be responsible for paying back the funds based on the terms of your loan agreement. Every loan is different, but personal loan payments are typically made monthly.

You’ll need to pay back both the principal balance (how much you borrowed) and any interest on that principal on time each month. If you don’t, you could face late fees and service charges or you could even have your debt sent to collections—yikes!

This isn’t to say that personal loans are necessarily a bad thing. There are times and places where personal loans make sense for people to use (contact a financial coach or advisor if you want specific guidance on what’s right for you). But what’s important is that anyone signing up for a loan knows precisely what they’re getting themselves into.

How Personal Loans Impact Credit Scores

By now, you know the basics of what a personal loan is and how it works. But how do these loans impact your credit score? Let’s take a look at some of the potential positive and negative effects of personal loans.

Potential Positive Effects of Personal Loans

There are a few potential positive impacts of personal loans on credit scores, including:

  • Can Help You Establish a Responsible Credit History – Credit rating bureaus don’t tell us specifically how they calculate credit scores, but we do know that having a lengthy history of responsibly paying back your debts usually leads to a higher credit rating. Taking out a loan and making your payments on time and in full every month can help you build a responsible credit history. Of course, if you don’t make your payments on time and in full every month, you can quickly hurt your score, too.

  • May Improve Your Credit Mix – Creditors typically like to lend money to people who are able to responsibly manage a wide array of different types of credit. For example, a credit card is a type of revolving credit, which is basically a standing agreement that lets you borrow a certain amount of money each month so long as you pay it back. Being able to manage revolving credit is good, but some creditors also like to see that you can handle installment credit, too. Installment credit, which is effectively a loan, involves borrowing a lump sum up front and then repaying that debt over time. This shows a different kind of reliability as a borrower to creditors, so responsible management of installment credit can help improve your credit score over time.

  • Might Be Used to Consolidate & Pay Off Debt – Some people use personal loans to consolidate other debt, which can indirectly help improve your credit score. Consolidating debt on its own doesn't necessarily have a positive impact on your credit. But if consolidating debt from various lenders into one loan makes it easier to pay off your debt over time, then this can often help improve your credit rating. Again, if you don’t manage your debt consolidation loan responsibly, it can hurt your credit. But paying off debt is typically a good thing in the eyes of credit bureaus.

Potential Negative Effects of Personal Loans

As is the case with any kind of line of credit, there are potential negative effects of personal loans. Some of these negative effects can be quite detrimental to your financial life, so it’s vital that you fully consider your ability to repay your debts in a timely manner before you sign any loan agreements.

There are many potential negative consequences of personal loans, including:

  • Initial Decreases in Your Credit Score – Many people find that their credit score dips by 5 to 15 points in the months after they apply for a personal loan. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but you’ll generally see some sort of decrease in your credit rating after you open a new line of credit. That’s because lenders almost always do a hard inquiry on your credit score during your loan application. This hard inquiry stays on your report for about 2 years and it can warn lenders off of giving you more credit out of fear that you won’t be able to pay off all that debt. Luckily, with responsible repayment, most credit scores recover within a few months to a year of a hard inquiry.

  • Added Costs & Interest Charges – Although it’s true that personal loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards and payday loans, they’re definitely not cheap. Borrowing money means that you’ll end up paying more over time than you would have if you had the cash on hand to finance your endeavours in the first place. To some degree, this is just the cost of doing business in our modern world, but it’s something to keep in mind before you shop for a loan.

  • Potential Long-Term Negative Financial Consequences – Responsibly paying back your loan by making on-time payments in full each month can make you a worthy borrower in the eyes of financial institutions and lenders. But missing even a single payment on your personal loan can tarnish your credit score for years. Failing to pay back your loan (i.e., defaulting on your loan) can cause your credit to drop by hundreds of points, especially if your debt ends up in collections or you have to file for bankruptcy. As a result, you should never borrow more than you can repay. If you’re not sure how much you can afford to borrow, contact a financial coach or financial advisor.

Navigating the world of loans can be a daunting task, especially with the potential impact of loan applications on credit scores. It’s crucial for borrowers to understand how different types of loans, such as personal loans, mortgages, and auto loans, can affect their credit scores and what strategies can be employed to minimize the impact. Are you ready to explore the world of loans and their effects on credit scores? Let’s dive in and discover the importance of understanding the difference between hard and soft inquiries, the impacts of various loan types, and the strategies to minimize the impact on credit scores, including the question: does applying for a loan affect credit score?

In this blog post, we will explore how loan applications impact credit scores, the differences between hard and soft inquiries, the various types of loans and their effects on credit scores, and strategies to minimize credit score impacts when applying for loans. We will also discuss responsible loan repayment and how it can contribute to improved credit scores, while addressing the common concern: does applying for a loan affect credit score?

How Loan Applications Impact Your Credit Score

Loan applications can have a significant impact on credit scores, especially when it comes to hard inquiries. When you apply for a personal loan, for example, a hard inquiry is made on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score.

Grasping the difference between hard and soft inquiries is vital because they significantly influence your credit score. A hard inquiry occurs when a lender checks your credit report for the purpose of approving a loan, while a soft inquiry does not have an impact on your credit score and is typically used for prequalification or background checks.

Recognizing the effect of these inquiries on your credit score is key to making informed decisions when applying for loans.

Hard Inquiries vs. Soft Inquiries

As mentioned earlier, hard inquiries occur when lenders evaluate your credit report for loan approval, while soft inquiries do not affect your credit scores and are used for prequalification or background checks. Hard inquiries can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points, as they signal to other lenders that you may be seeking additional credit.

Soft inquiries, on the other hand, do not have any impact on your credit score, as they don’t involve a formal loan application process. Understanding the difference between hard and soft inquiries is vital for borrowers as it aids in making informed decisions when applying for loans.

Minimizing the number of hard inquiries on their credit report and subsequent impact on their credit score is possible for borrowers when they opt to prequalify for a loan or apply for multiple loans within a brief period, keeping in mind the minimum credit score requirements.

Duration of Hard Inquiries' Impact

Hard inquiries can result in a temporary decrease in your credit score, but the good news is that their impact typically lasts for 12 months. After this period, your credit score should recover, assuming you continue to manage your credit responsibly. Hard inquiries remain on your credit report for 24 months, but their effect on your credit score diminishes over time.

Comprehending the duration of hard inquiries’ effects on your credit score is beneficial for borrowers. It enables them to plan their loan applications strategically, thereby minimizing the overall impact on their credit score. By knowing when to apply for loans and how to manage their credit responsibly, borrowers can ensure that their credit score remains in good standing.

Types of Loans and Their Effects on Credit Scores

Different types of loans can affect credit scores in various ways. Personal loans, mortgages, and auto loans all have unique impacts on credit scores, based on factors like loan amounts, interest rates, and repayment terms. Borrowers must grasp the specific impacts of each loan type on their credit scores for making informed decisions during loan applications.

In the following subsections, we will delve deeper into the impacts of personal loans, mortgages, and auto loans on credit scores. Comprehending the unique traits of each loan type allows borrowers to manage their credit more effectively and reduce the impact on their credit scores.

Personal Loans

Personal loans can have both positive and negative impacts on credit scores. On one hand, taking out a personal loan can initially lower your credit score due to the hard inquiry that occurs during the application process. On the other hand, responsible repayment of a personal loan can actually improve your credit score. However, it’s important to consider whether a personal loan could be hurt if you fail to make timely payments.

Here are the ways personal loans can impact your credit score.

  1. Initial credit score decrease due to hard inquiry during application process

  2. Timely payments demonstrate reliability to lenders and can improve credit score

  3. Gradually reducing the balance of your personal loan can decrease your credit utilization ratio, which can positively affect your credit score.

Responsible debt management is integral to harnessing the benefits of personal loans on your credit score. You can counterbalance the initial negative impact of the hard inquiry and eventually enhance your credit score by making timely payments and lowering your overall debt.

Mortgages

Mortgages can have a significant impact on credit scores due to their large loan amounts. Applying for a mortgage may result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can lead to a temporary decrease in your credit score. However, multiple inquiries within a short period of time for the purpose of shopping for a mortgage are usually treated as a single inquiry and have a limited effect on your score.

Making timely monthly payments on your mortgage can have a positive effect on your credit score over time, whereas missed payments or defaulting on your mortgage can significantly lower your credit score.

Your ability to manage your mortgage responsibly determines the long-term effect of a mortgage on your credit score. You can reduce the negative impacts of a mortgage and potentially enhance your credit score over time by making punctual payments and maintaining a robust credit profile.

Auto Loans

Similar to personal loans and mortgages, auto loans can also affect your credit scores. When you submit an application for an auto loan, it leads to a hard inquiry being added to your credit report, which can bring about a temporary decrease in your credit score by a few points. However, as you make regular payments on the loan in a timely manner, your credit score can increase.

Paying down the balance of your auto loan gradually can decrease your credit utilization, which can have a positive effect on your credit score. Responsible debt management is crucial for maintaining a healthy credit score with an auto loan. You can demonstrate your ability to manage debt and boost your credit score by making payments on time and decreasing your auto loan balance gradually.

How Multiple Loan Applications Affect Credit Scores

Submitting multiple loan applications can negatively impact your credit scores, as each application typically results in a hard inquiry on your credit report. However, rate shopping and understanding credit scoring models can help minimize the effects on your credit score.

Rate shopping involves applying for multiple loans within a short time frame to find the best interest rate, which can be beneficial for your credit score if done correctly. Familiarizing yourself with credit scoring models can also help you better understand how these models treat multiple loan applications and minimize the negative impact on your credit score.

The subsequent subsections will delve into rate shopping and credit scoring models comprehensively. Understanding these strategies allows you to apply for multiple loans strategically without causing significant effects on your credit score.

Rate Shopping

Rate shopping is the practice of examining multiple lenders to compare loan offers and identify the most advantageous interest rates and terms. It enables borrowers to locate the most suitable loan options before making a decision. Rate shopping can help borrowers in the following ways:

  • Compare interest rates and terms from different lenders

  • Find the most favorable loan options

  • Improve credit score by demonstrating the ability to manage multiple loan requests

However, the potential risks associated with rate shopping should also be considered. Multiple hard inquiries on a credit report can decrease a credit score, and lenders may be hesitant to approve loans for borrowers who have requested multiple loans in a short period of time.

For successful rate shopping, it’s important to follow these steps.

  1. Submit loan applications within a limited timeframe to avoid numerous hard inquiries on a credit report that could adversely affect a credit score.

  2. Ensure that the loan terms and interest rates are advantageous.

  3. Make sure the borrower is capable of making payments punctually.

By following these steps, you can increase your chances of finding the best loan rates.

Credit Scoring Models and Multiple Applications

Credit scoring models, such as FICO, are used by lenders to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness and predict the probability of default on credit obligations. These models utilize mathematical algorithms to consider various factors such as:

  • Payment history

  • Credit utilization

  • Length of credit history

  • Types of credit accounts

Lenders use these models to make decisions on loan approvals and set the terms of the loan.

Different credit scoring models treat multiple loan applications differently, so understanding their approaches can help minimize credit score impacts when applying for loans. For instance, FICO and VantageScore consider multiple loan applications within a short time frame as one inquiry, while other models may view each application as a distinct inquiry.

Borrowers can strategically apply for loans and reduce the negative impact on their credit scores by understanding how different models handle multiple loan applications.

Strategies to Minimize Credit Score Impact When Applying for Loans

There are several strategies that can help borrowers minimize the impact of loan applications on their credit scores. Some effective approaches include:

  1. Prequalification: This enables borrowers to get an estimation of their loan terms without initiating a hard inquiry on their credit report.

  2. Timing applications: Applying for multiple loans within a short period can have a negative impact on credit scores. It’s best to space out loan applications to minimize the effect.

  3. Building a strong credit profile: Maintaining a good credit history, paying bills on time, and keeping credit utilization low can help improve credit scores and mitigate the impact of loan applications.

Timing applications appropriately can also help minimize the impact on credit scores, as multiple inquiries within a short period of time are generally treated as a single inquiry. Lastly, having a strong credit profile can increase the likelihood of loan approval and help minimize the impact on credit scores.

The subsequent subsections will delve into these strategies in greater detail. Borrowers can mitigate the impact of loan applications on their credit scores and still secure the financing they need by understanding and implementing these approaches.

Prequalification

Prequalification is a process in which a lender evaluates a potential borrower’s creditworthiness without performing a hard inquiry, thereby allowing the borrower to obtain an estimate of the loan amount they may qualify for without impacting their credit score. This preliminary evaluation involves analyzing the borrower’s income, credit score, and other relevant factors to determine their potential capacity to repay the loan. It is important to note that prequalification does not guarantee loan approval, but it does provide borrowers with an understanding of their borrowing capacity prior to formally applying for a loan.

For successful prequalification, borrowers should:

  • Verify that their credit report is accurate and up-to-date before applying for prequalification

  • Be prepared to present the lender with any requested supplementary documents

  • Compare loan terms and rates prior to settling on a loan.

Timing of Applications

Timing loan applications strategically is another effective approach to minimize the impact of loan applications on credit scores. By applying for multiple loans within a short time frame, borrowers can reduce the number of hard inquiries on their credit report and, consequently, the impact on their credit score. It is important to be mindful of the timing of loan applications, as multiple hard inquiries in a short period of time can have a greater impact on credit scores.

Borrowers should consider prequalifying for loans to minimize the impact on credit scores. This allows them to compare loan offers without making multiple applications, thereby reducing the number of hard inquiries on their credit report. Additionally, developing a strong credit profile can help reduce the effect on credit scores when applying for loans.

Building a Strong Credit Profile

Establishing a robust credit profile is crucial for borrowers aiming to maintain or enhance their credit scores. Borrowers can build a robust credit profile that can counterbalance the impact of loan applications on their credit scores by making payments on time, reducing debt, and diversifying their credit mix.

Various strategies can be employed to build a strong credit profile, such as:

  • Making timely payments on all credit accounts

  • Reducing overall debt levels

  • Having a diverse mix of credit types (e.g., credit cards, mortgages, auto loans)

A strong credit profile can not only help borrowers minimize the impact of loan applications on their credit scores, but also increase the likelihood of loan approval and secure more favorable loan terms. By focusing on responsible debt management and timely payments, borrowers can:

  • Establish and maintain a strong credit profile

  • Minimize the impact of loan applications on their credit scores

  • Increase the likelihood of loan approval

  • Secure more favorable loan terms

This will serve them well in the future.

How Responsible Loan Repayment Can Improve Credit Scores

Responsible loan repayment is a crucial aspect of maintaining and improving credit scores. By making on-time payments, reducing debt, and diversifying credit mix, borrowers can demonstrate their ability to manage debt responsibly and, in turn, improve their credit scores over time.

The subsequent subsections will delve into these aspects in greater detail, explaining their contribution to improved credit scores. By understanding and implementing responsible loan repayment practices, borrowers can not only minimize the impact of loan applications on their credit scores, but also set themselves up for long-term financial success.

On-Time Payments

On-time payments are a key component of responsible debt management and can have a positive impact on credit scores. Payment history accounts for 35% of the total credit score calculation, making timely payments an essential aspect of maintaining a favorable credit rating. Adhering to payment deadlines can help borrowers preserve their credit scores and avoid potential late fees or other sanctions.

Borrowers can show lenders their responsibility and reliability by consistently making payments on time, potentially leading to more favorable loan terms and lower interest rates in the future. Building a track record of timely payments is an essential aspect of establishing and maintaining a strong credit profile.

Reducing Debt

Reducing overall debt levels, including credit card debt, is another important aspect of responsible debt management and can positively impact credit scores. By paying off debt, borrowers can improve their payment history and decrease their credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit they are utilizing compared to their total credit limit. A lower credit utilization ratio can reflect positively on credit scores, as it demonstrates to lenders that the borrower is not overextending themselves with credit.

Borrowers looking to borrow money can not only enhance their credit scores, but also prove their ability to manage finances responsibly by concentrating on debt reduction and finding ways to consolidate debt through debt consolidation. This can lead to more favorable loan terms and lower interest rates in the future.

Diversifying Credit Mix

Diversifying credit mix refers to having a variety of credit types, such as credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans, in order to potentially increase one’s credit score. Having a diverse mix of credit accounts can positively impact credit scores, as it demonstrates to lenders that the borrower is capable of managing various types of credit responsibly. Credit mix typically accounts for around 10% of the total credit score calculation, making it a small but important factor in determining credit scores.

Borrowers can enhance their credit scores and increase their likelihood of securing favorable loan terms in the future by creating a diverse mix of credit accounts, including revolving credit, and managing them responsibly, which will reflect positively on their credit reports from credit bureaus.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does applying for a loan affect your credit score?

Applying for a personal loan can cause a slight dip in your credit score, as lenders will make a hard inquiry into your credit history, which can lower your score by five points.

However, this temporary decrease should not stop you from shopping for the best interest rate and loan terms.

Does it hurt my credit score if I apply for a credit card?

Applying for a credit card can temporarily drop your credit score by up to five points due to the hard inquiry.

However, this impact is usually small and responsible use of the card can help offset the initial decline in your score over time.

What is the minimum credit score for a personal loan?

Most major financial institutions require a minimum credit score of 660 or higher for personal loan approval, while online lenders can provide approval with fair credit (560 to 659) or bad credit (above 560).

Online lenders are more likely to approve personal loans for those with bad credit, but the interest rates and fees may be higher than those offered by traditional lenders. Additionally, online lenders may require additional documentation or collateral to secure the loan.

What is the difference between hard and soft inquiries?

Hard inquiries can affect your credit scores and are initiated by lenders when evaluating loan approval, whereas soft inquiries have no impact on your credit scores and are used for prequalification or background checks.

Soft inquiries are not visible to lenders and do not affect your credit scores. They are used for prequalification or background checks, such as when you check your own credit score. They are also used by employers, landlords, and insurance companies.

It’s important.

What is rate shopping, and how can it benefit my credit score?

Rate shopping involves comparing loan offers to find the best terms, and can boost your credit score if done within a reasonable timeframe.

Can Personal Loans Boost Credit Scores?

When we think about the impact that personal loans can have on our credit scores, our minds often wander to all of the negative consequences that can arise if we miss loan payments or fail to pay back our debt.

That said, while it’s certainly true that personal loans—like all financial tools—come with a sizable amount of risk, there are potential benefits of these loans for people who can manage their debt responsibly.

For example, paying back your loan on time and never missing a payment can actually help boost your credit score in the long run. But missing even a single payment can cause your score to plummet.

Summary

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide if you’re ready for the responsibility that comes with a personal loan. There are risks and rewards involved with personal loans, so always consider how your debt repayment plan fits into your budget before you sign any contracts or loan agreements.

By employing strategies such as prequalification, timing applications, and building a strong credit profile, along with responsible loan repayment practices, borrowers can minimize the impact of loan applications on their credit scores and set themselves up for long-term financial success. With this knowledge and a proactive approach to debt management, borrowers can confidently navigate the world of loans and credit scores.

Note: KOHO product information and/or features may have been updated since this blog post was published. Please refer to our KOHO Plans page for our most up to date account information!

Gaby Pilson

Gaby Pilson is a writer, educator, travel guide, and lover of all things personal finance. She’s passionate about helping people feel empowered to take control of their financial lives by making investing, budgeting, and money-saving resources accessible to everyone.