Guide to Soft Pull Personal Loans

By Jacqueline DeMarco · September 29, 2023 · 7 minute read

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Guide to Soft Pull Personal Loans

A soft pull personal loan means that the lender only requires a soft credit check for preapprove or approval, which won’t impact your credit score. With a soft pull, a lender is able to look at information in your credit report without leaving a negative mark. It differs from a hard credit pull, which does have an impact on your score.

Read on for a closer look at what soft pull personal loans are and what skipping a hard pull means for borrowers.

What Is a Soft Credit Inquiry?

A soft credit inquiry (or pull) is a type of credit check that isn’t tied to a formal credit application and does not impact your credit score. It occurs when a creditor, employer, landlord, or other authorized individual looks over your credit report to see how you manage your debt. When you access your own credit report, it’s also considered a soft credit check.

A soft credit check can take place without your consent, or even your knowledge. If you’ve ever received a prequalified credit card offer in the mail, the company making that offer did a soft pull on your credit to prescreen you for the card.

If you apply to prequalify for a loan, the lender will also do a soft credit pull. If you like the rate and terms in your offer, you can then decide to officially apply for that loan, which will require a hard credit pull.

Other instances of a soft credit check can include renting an apartment or applying for a job. Getting a look at how you manage your money can prove reliability and bring peace of mind to an employer, landlord, or creditor.

How Soft Credit Checks Work

During a soft credit check, a lender or other third party reviews your credit report to gather specific information about your creditworthiness. Unlike a hard credit check, which requires your explicit consent and can impact your credit score, a soft pull is typically used for informational purposes or prequalification.

For example, let’s say you’re shopping around for personal loan offers and want to check your rate. Lenders may perform a soft pull to assess your creditworthiness and determine if you meet their initial criteria. This initial evaluation helps lenders provide you with personalized loan offers without affecting your credit score.

Information Provided for a Soft Pull

A soft credit pull generally provides a snapshot or a modified version of your credit report. Exactly what a third party will see depends on the purpose of the soft pull. A creditor will likely be able to see:

•  Your overall credit history

•  Your current debts and payment behavior

•  The length of your credit history

•  The types of credit accounts you have

Do Soft Pulls Affect Your Credit Score?

No, soft credit inquiries do not impact your credit score. They are not visible to other creditors, and they do not leave any trace on your credit report. Soft pulls are considered “soft” because they are only visible to you when you review your own credit report.

If you want to view the soft inquiries on your credit reports, you can request a free copy of your report from each major credit bureau (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) at Keep in mind that each report could have different inquiries. A soft inquiry is only added to the credit report that was checked.

Soft Pull vs Hard Pull

Whether you’re shopping around for a personal loan or looking for a new apartment, it’s important to understand the difference between soft vs, hard credit inquiries. Here’s a quick summary of how the two compare.

Soft Pull

Hard Pull

Your permission is not required Your permission is required
No impact on credit score May lower credit score temporarily
Only visible to you on credit report Visible to other creditors
Used for informational purposes or prequalification Used for credit application or loan approval

The key difference between soft vs. hard credit inquiries is that soft inquiries don’t have any impact on your credit scores. Hard inquiries, by contrast, may remain in your credit reports for about two years and can impact your credit scores.

The impact of hard inquiry, however, is typically small, as well as temporary. As long as no additional negative information is added to your credit report, your credit scores will typically rebound within a few months.

While multiple hard inquiries in a short time frame can do more significant damage to your scores, scoring models will typically combine multiple inquiries that occur within one or two months to avoid unfairly penalizing people who are rate shopping.

What to Know About Personal Loans With Soft Credit Pulls

Some personal loan lenders look at your credit report using a soft pull, allowing them to prequalify you while letting you know your approved interest rate. This can be beneficial for both sides — the lender gets information about your creditworthiness while you get important information that can help you make borrowing decisions.

While prequalification for a personal loan with a soft pull isn’t a guarantee you’ll get approved for a loan, it can give you a good idea of the loan amount, rate, and terms you may be able to qualify for. If you choose to then apply for the loan, the lender will then do a hard credit pull.

Some lenders advertise that they will only do a soft pull, even when you apply for the loan. But you’ll want to approach these lenders with caution. If a lender doesn’t require a hard credit check, they will often make up for the increased risk involved by charging exorbitant interest rates and fees.

Be Aware of Predatory Loans

If you’re looking at soft pull personal loans, it’s important to be aware of predatory loans that may take advantage of individuals with limited credit history or poor credit.

Predatory loans, such as payday loans, often target individuals who may have difficulty obtaining traditional loans. However, these loans often come with high-interest rates, excessive fees, and unfavorable terms. When looking at this type of loan, you’ll want to be sure to research reputable lenders and read reviews to ensure you’re working with a legitimate and trustworthy institution.

Also be sure to read the loan agreement carefully and make sure you fully understand all the terms before proceeding.

Common Soft Inquiries

Soft inquiries are commonly used in various scenarios, including:

•  Prequalification for credit cards or loans

•  Employment background checks

•  Rental applications

•  Insurance quotes

•  Credit monitoring services

•  Checking your own credit

Compare Personal Loan Offers With SoFi

A personal loan is a flexible kind of financing that you can use the funds to cover virtually any type of expense, including home renovations, credit card consolidation, medical costs, a wedding, and more.

If you’re interested in exploring your loan options without triggering a hard credit pull, SoFi can help. SoFi personal loans offer competitive, fixed rates and a variety of terms, and checking your rate won’t affect your credit score. Plus, it only takes just one minute.

See if a personal loan from SoFi is right for you.


Do personal loans do hard or soft credit inquiries?

Personal loans can involve both hard and soft credit inquiries. When you apply for a personal loan, the lender may perform a hard credit inquiry, which can temporarily lower your credit score. However, some lenders also offer prequalification or preapproval processes that involve soft credit inquiries. These soft pulls do not impact your credit score and provide lenders with a basic overview of your creditworthiness.

Do lenders see less of your credit history with a soft pull?

With a soft inquiry, a lender or creditor will typically see a modified version of your credit report. They likely won’t be able to see information like your account numbers but will see things like your payment history and if you have any accounts in collections.

Can a soft credit pull affect your credit score negatively?

No. Soft inquiries are not visible to other lenders and do not leave a trace on your credit report. They are used for informational purposes or prequalification and do not have any direct impact on your creditworthiness. Only hard credit inquiries, which occur when you apply for credit or a loan, may temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.

Photo credit: iStock/Hispanolistic
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Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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