Credit bureaus grant individuals one credit inquiry every year. Any additional inquiries reduce your score. The degree of the score reduction depends on whether the credit inquiry is a soft pull or one used for debt product qualification, like a credit card.
A soft pull is defined as a credit viewing conducted by one bureau or all three (Trimerger Report) to check the score or look for discrepancies. These types of inquiries only affect the credit score minimally (two to three points normally). However, soft pulls done repeatedly during a period of one month can affect the credit score by up to 20 to 30 points.
Likewise, customers shopping for debt products should be extremely careful. Agencies must pull a full report to qualify potential clients. Several detailed credit inquiries over a short period of time can severely damage your score (sometimes by 70 to 80 points) which may stifle your chance of locking in a low interest rate. Lenders view multiple credit inquiries as a sign that you have been turned down by other lenders, therefore flagging you as a credit risk.
To ensure a happy holiday shopping season, be selective and protective of your credit report.