In most cases, opening a checking or savings account is not reported to the major credit reporting bureaus and will not have an impact on your credit score. The same holds true for normal bank transactions and account balances.
That said, there may be some cases when a bank will perform what is known as a “hard pull” when you open an account, requesting access to your credit file. This can temporarily lower your credit score. Let’s take a closer look at how your banking activity can impact your credit – and the best way to keep that score of yours as high as possible.
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Consider Your Options Before Choosing a Bank to Avoid a Hard Pull Penalty
Banks and other lenders usually make a hard pull, or hard inquiry, when you apply for credit. This action will lower your credit score slightly and temporarily. While the hard pull will stay on your credit report for two years, its impact on your credit should only last for a few months.
While your credit score is updated regularly, here’s why you should be concerned about too many of these in-depth credit checks. Several hard pulls on your credit report at the same time can make it look like you’re taking on too much credit and therefore might have a hard time paying your debts back.
When you open a bank account in person or online, the good news is that most banks will perform what is known as a soft pull. This sort of informal credit check when you apply to open checking at a bank has no impact on your credit score. (As mentioned above, in some rare cases, a bank will also make a hard pull when you open checking and/or savings. For example, some overdraft protection programs are considered a line of credit, so a bank may make a hard pull before approving you.)
If you’re worried about how a hard pull might affect your credit score, especially if you’re actively seeking credit, ask a bank whether they use them and under what circumstances. If they do plan on doing a hard inquiry, it may be worth considering banks that avoid this option.
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How to Protect Your Credit Score
While opening a bank account likely won’t have an affect on your credit, there are certain other bank-related transactions that may lower your score, such as failing to pay your bank back when you use overdraft.
Your credit score is used by banks and other lenders to determine how risky it is to extend credit to you. The lower your score, the more risk you represent to them, and they’ll offset this risk by offering you higher interest rates. If you have bad credit, lenders may not extend credit at all. If you’re applying for a home, car, or personal loan, this can obviously have major ramifications!
So, as you’re establishing credit, it’s critical that you protect your credit score. The goal is to have access to cheaper credit when you need it. That means if you are not sure whether a hard inquiry will be performed, ask before approving a credit check. You don’t want those hard pulls to pile up! Also, you may receive many different kinds of credit-card offers. Don’t assume more is better, as each one you apply for will likely trigger a hard pull, which in turn can raise red flags regarding your credit worthiness in the future.
Here are some other moves that can help keep your credit score as high as possible.
When you dip into the overdraft zone, you’ve spent more than you have in your checking account. If you have overdraft protection, your bank will step in and cover the shortfall. They will usually charge overdraft protection fees, and you’ll have to repay the money using a credit card or money from a savings account.
Overdrafts themselves do not affect your credit score if you promptly pay back the overdraft fees and what you owe. However, failing to do so will have an adverse effect on your credit. If, for instance, you are unable to pay off your credit card or the overdraft is sent to collections – ouch! Your score is likely to tumble.
Avoid overdrafts whenever possible by keeping a close eye on how much money you have in your bank account and never spending beyond that amount. If you’re someone who frequently overdrafts, you may consider dropping overdraft protection. This means your debit card transaction will be declined when you try to make a purchase with money you don’t have. It may be momentarily embarrassing or inconvenient, but it will help protect your credit.
Pay Back Your Debts on Time
We can’t stress this strongly enough: Punctuality counts! Your payment history plays a big role in determining your credit score. It may take into account credit cards, auto loans, student loans, home loans, and other forms of credit. It will show details on late or missed payments, including how much you owed, how delayed a payment was, and how often you’ve missed payments. Late and missed payments will detract from your score and can even stay on your report for up to seven years! So it’s important to pay on time.
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Say a friend or family member is having troubling securing credit for themselves due to their bad score. They may ask you to co-sign a loan, using your good credit to help bolster theirs. Your heart may be in the right place and you may want to help, but – in a word – don’t! When you co-sign, you are also taking on responsibility for paying off that debt. That means if the friend or family member fails to make a payment, you’re on the hook for it. What’s more, their missed payments may have a negative impact on your credit score. For this reason, when you are in “protect my credit score” mode, it’s probably prudent to avoid co-signing.
File for Unemployment
If you lose your job and a steady stream of income, you may find it more difficult to pay your bills on time or you may take on more debt. Each of these scenarios can hurt your credit score.
Filing for unemployment can help you replace some of that income stream and prevent you from falling behind. What’s more, there is no public record that keeps track of who is receiving unemployment, and receiving benefits does not affect your score.
Seek Credit Counseling
Sometimes, despite one’s best efforts, debt gets out of hand or a credit score can spiral downward. If you are feeling overwhelmed and not sure of how to improve the situation, get help. Credit counselors are professionals trained to help you with money issues, including setting up a debt management plan as well as preparing and sticking to a budget.
You can find a counselor through nonprofit services, such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling . With this kind of organization, there is usually no fee for your first counseling session, though there may be fees for subsequent services, such as crafting a debt management plan. These costs should be modest at most.
Be a Prudent Spender
The world has a lot of temptation out there in the form of tricked-out cars and mobile phones, great restaurants and vacation destinations, new clothes and more. But running up credit card charges you can’t pay off on time or taking out too steep loans can damage your credit and leave you deep in debt. Spending within your means can help you avoid this kind of debt.
A budget can help you determine how much you can comfortably spend each month. To build a budget, first tally your necessary expenses, including rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, groceries, insurance and debt payments. Subtract this from your monthly income. The money you have left can be put toward discretionary expenses such as eating out and entertainment, as well as paying down debt and saving. Be especially wary of spending beyond that discretionary limit. That’s where debt loves to live.
Monitor Your Score
You may wonder if checking your own credit score can lower it. The answer is no, and in fact, you should check. You can ask for a free credit report from each of the major credit reporting bureaus — Experian , Equifax , and TransUnion — once per year. Each bureau will display slightly different credit scores. Take a look at each report and make sure it’s correct. If you find any mistakes, let the bureau know immediately.
Do Cash Management Accounts Do Hard Credit Checks?
Cash management accounts are alternatives to traditional bank accounts that are offered by online banks or robo-advisors. As with traditional bank accounts, cash management accounts typically will not perform a hard credit pull when you open an account. It is therefore unlikely to lower your score.
For the most part, opening a checking, savings, or cash management account will not hurt your credit score. Banks, credit unions, and other providers typically do what is known as a soft pull, not a hard pull, when considering your application. This process should not lower your credit rating nor linger on your report. That said, there may be some activity related to your accounts that can cause your score to drift downward, such as unpaid overdrafts. Do what you can to avoid these, and protect your credit score. It’s the key to opening more financial doors and helping ensure low rates if you do apply for a loan.
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What are the 5 C’s of credit?
They are 1) character (overall, are you trustworthy?), 2) capacity (will you be able to maintain your end of a financial arrangement?), 3) capital (do you have sufficient funds to enter this arrangement?), 4) conditions (looking at the big picture, are economic forces favorable to your entering this arrangement), and 5) collateral (if you’re taking out a loan, do you have something of value to offer as security?).
What is a hard inquiry?
A hard inquiry, also known as a hard pull, occurs when you apply for credit and your lender has requested to look at your credit file. A hard pull will temporarily lower your credit score.
Does it hurt your credit to open a checking account?
Generally speaking, opening a checking account does not trigger a hard pull and does not hurt your credit score.
Is there a downside to opening a checking account?
When opening a checking account, it is important to be aware of any fees you may be required to pay or account minimums you’ll need to maintain.
Does opening a savings account require a credit check?
While most banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions do check your credit when you submit an application to open an account, these are most often soft inquiries that don’t impact your credit score.
Does opening a savings account impact your credit score?
As with checking accounts, opening a savings account does not typically trigger a hard pull that would affect your credit score.
Is it bad to open a savings account?
It’s usually a good idea to open a savings account, even if the current interest rates aren’t that high. It establishes a foothold for future savings, and you can open an account with just a little bit of cash – in some cases, you can even start an account without depositing anything.
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