Dealing with credit can be quite confusing if you have never dealt with it before. You have to consider your score and all of the factors that go into determining whether you are a responsible borrower worthy of new credit lines. Many lenders will utilize a credit pull to decide whether to issue you a loan or a credit card. What are credit pulls and how are they used?
A credit pull gives lenders access to your financial history including inquiries, missed payments, and outstanding debt. There are three credit agencies they can pull from (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Know which reports are likely to be pulled before applying for a new credit card.
|Credit Reports Pulled
|Bank of America
|Experian, TransUnion, Equifax
|Experian, TransUnion, Equifax
|Experian, TransUnion, Equifax
For more information on how to manage your credit pulls, this detailed breakdown will give you everything you need to know.
Credit Pull Meaning
If you have ever applied for a new loan or a credit card, chances are that your lender used a credit pull to determine if you qualified for a particular product. A credit pull gives people insight into what a responsible (or irresponsible) borrower you might be. It is a way of determining whether you will be a good customer who reliably pays their bills on time.
There are two different types of credit pulls that you might encounter. Soft pulls and hard pulls are both possible, but you should really know the difference between them. It can make a major impact on your credit score.
Hard Credit Pulls
A hard credit pull is usually initiated by lenders with your permission. It gives them access to all of the information on your credit report. They can see what outstanding loans you have, whether you have made your payments on time, and just how responsible you are with your money.
Unfortunately, a hard pull can also negatively impact your credit score. Hard credit pulls can lower your FICO score by about five points each time. You might see an even larger dip in your score if you have multiple inquiries at one time.
New credit lines make up about 10 percent of your FICO credit score. If you are consistently putting in applications for new credit cards or loans, then you may find that your score takes a significant nosedive. This signals to lenders that you may be too risky because it looks like you are having a difficult time covering your monthly expenses.
The only exception to this rule is the credit pull grace period if you are shopping for the best deal on a new loan. For example, you may want to find the best rates on a new auto loan. You are given a two-week shopping window where multiple hard credit pulls will only be counted as one. They reward you for being a savvy shopper.
Keep in mind that hard credit pulls will also show up on your credit report for quite some time. They are a permanent part of your report for the next two years. After this time, they will fall off your report.
Soft Credit Pulls
Soft credit pulls are different than hard credit pulls. These can be done by credit card companies who are trying to pre-approve you for a new loan. They are done by landlords, employers, and even insurance companies. A soft credit pull is also done when you check your own credit score.
Unlike hard credit pulls, a soft credit pull does not require your permission. This is why your mailbox may be flooded with offers from credit card companies who are soliciting your business.
One of the benefits of a soft credit pull is that it does not damage your credit score. There is no consequence whatsoever for having a soft credit pull. These types of requests do not even get listed on your credit report for lenders to see.
Some credit card companies such as American Express may only use a soft credit pull to approve you for a new card. However, this is not the norm. Most of the time, you will see a hard credit pull to get final approval for a new credit card or loan.
However, you can view them on consumer disclosures to see who has recently tried to access your financial history. This can be interesting, but there is not much you can do about companies who perform this type of credit check. It does not harm your score, so there isn’t much to worry about here.
Credit Pulls for a Mortgage
If you are in the market for a new house, then you need to know a few things about your credit. You may not qualify for certain loan programs if you don’t have a high enough credit score. Inquire with prospective lenders about the minimum credit score they will accept before you start filling out applications.
When you know that you are going to be applying for a new mortgage in the near future, you should be cautious about applying for other lines of credit. You don’t want your lender to see any red flags on your application.
The good news is that you have some time to shop around for the best mortgage. While the usual credit pull grace period is just two weeks, you have 45 days to shop around for a new mortgage. During this time, all inquiries will only count as one. This lessens the impact on your credit score.
This is done because lenders can assume that you are only planning on purchasing one home. It is a bit different when you apply for multiple credit cards at one time. Applying for this many lines of new credit says that you are having a hard time with your finances and triggers a red flag on your account.
Once you shop for a new mortgage, you need to put a hold on other credit applications. Applying for too many things before closing on your new home may interfere with a lender’s ability to actually allow you to close on that loan.
What Credit Bureau Does My Lender Check?
Now that you know the difference between a hard credit pull and a soft credit pull, it is important to discuss the various agencies your lender may look at. There are three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). When a lender does a hard credit pull, they do not always look at all three credit reports.
Instead, many cards will pull just one or two reports from a specific bureau. Why does this matter to your credit score?
Each credit bureau will have a slightly different profile on you. This means that your credit score among all three agencies may be a bit different. Sometimes the difference can be drastic. Depending on which credit report your lender or credit card company pulls, you may see a small dip in your credit on that particular report.
For example, you may have applied for two new credit cards that checked your TransUnion report in the last year. That would have caused a short-term reduction in your credit score, but only when it comes to your TransUnion report. You may benefit from applying for a new credit card that only pulls your Equifax credit report to help mitigate some of the damage.
By pulling a different credit report, you can also help to minimize how many hard pulls you have. As we mentioned earlier, too many hard pulls can make you look like a financial risk.
If you are going to apply for multiple credit cards, you should make sure they are equally allocated to different credit reports. This will keep the inquiries from piling up on one particular report and can make you look like a more responsible borrower.
Utilize Your Best Credit Report
If you want to qualify for the best terms and loan products, you want to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward. The best thing to do is check your credit reports each year from all three bureaus. You can do this through AnnualCreditReport.com or through subscription sites like myFICO.com.
You should know what is on each of your credit reports in terms of number of inquiries and any negative marks. These marks can come from late payments or bills that went into collections.
Pay careful attention to which banks will pull which reports. You may want to avoid applying for cards that utilize reports where you have negative marks whenever possible. If not, you may face denials or less favorable terms like higher interest rates.
For those credit cards that you are still interested in, you may want to wait a while before applying if they utilize a credit report that has negative marks. After some time passes, those marks will carry less weight as it shows that you have improved your financial habits. You are more likely to be approved if you wait.
Always try to utilize your best credit reports to qualify for loans and credit cards.
Because your credit score can vary among the different agencies, you will also want to use the report that shows the highest score. Chances are this will coincide with the report that has the least negative marks against you.
For more information on how to finance an iPhone with bad credit, see our detailed guide here.
Will a New Credit Card Boost My Score?
You need to be savvy about utilizing the best credit report you have to apply for new credit cards. Many banks will pull just one or two credit reports to determine if you are eligible for a new line of credit. However, this does not mean that you cannot work on improving your weaker scores and reports.
A new credit card account is likely to show up on the radar of all three credit reporting agencies, even if they weren’t consulted in the approval process.
This can be a good thing for your credit if you practice responsible borrowing. Making on-time payments comprises 35 percent of your FICO credit score. If you can consistently make your payments on time, then you can boost your score on all three credit bureaus simultaneously.
A credit pull is ultimately worth it because it allows you to qualify for better credit cards and loans. The small dip in your score is relatively minimal if you don’t have multiple inquiries on your credit report.
Once approved, you may have the opportunity to bolster your credit score on all three bureaus. This makes it more likely that you will qualify for other credit cards in the future.
How Do I Know Which Credit Report Will Be Pulled?
Now that you know why choosing the right credit report matters, you need to know which credit report is actually going to be pulled. Is it possible to know which credit card companies pull which reports?
There is not an exact science to determining what credit reports are pulled by what companies. However, you can use personal experience and data from credit pull databases like Credit Boards to determine what the most likely reports are.
Credit Boards compiles information from real consumers who applied for credit card or loans. It makes it easy to see which lenders pulled from which reports. Keep in mind that this may not be the exact same situation for you, but it can give you a good starting point to figure out which cards may be the best fit for you.
Here are a few of the leading lenders and credit card companies, along with what credit reports they will typically access:
American Express is one of the most reliable creditors when it comes to what reports they pull. You can pretty much count on them pulling your Experian report regardless of which credit card you are applying for from them. In many cases, Experian is the only report they will pull. This is great news if you have some negative marks on other reports.
However, you may also occasionally see them pull from TransUnion in addition to Experian. It is rare to see this combination, but it is possible. Always count on them at least pulling Experian though.
American Express is also unlike other banks. Sometimes, they will perform just a soft credit pull to approve you for a new card. While this can be a nice perk, you should not count on this being the case for all applications. Be prepared for them to pull your credit report.
Bank of America
It seems that Bank of America can pull from all three credit bureaus to make a decision about your application. For most applications for their rewards credit card programs, they pull from Experian exclusively. However, this is not a guarantee. Some of their business cards will pull from TransUnion.
Barclaycard offers a lot of rewards credit cards for a variety of companies. Much like American Express, they tend to only pull from one credit agency. This is great news if you are trying to minimize how many inquiries are showing up on your credit reports. For the most part, they will pull only your TransUnion report.
For those who are attempting to minimize their inquiries on their credit reports, you may want to avoid applying for a Capital One credit card. This bank wants to double check your credit score in every possible way. They frequently pull reports from all three credit bureaus before issuing a decision.
Unfortunately, it is too difficult to predict which credit report Chase will want to access for your new credit account. They have a history of pulling from all three bureaus, though they usually only access one or two for a specific application.
There are reports of the Chase Sapphire Preferred pulling from Experian and TransUnion. Sometimes, they pull from both bureaus at the same time. Other cards like the Chase Freedom have a history of pulling from Equifax.
There is a possibility that your location may play a role in which credit bureau they utilize for your approval.
For the most part, it appears that Citibank tends to pull from Equifax and Experian. They usually only pull from one credit bureau at a time and seem to alternate most often between these two. However, it is not an exact science. As you can see from the record at Credit Boards, they will occasionally pull a TransUnion report as well.
Much like Barclaycard, Synchrony offers credit cards for a wide variety of companies including PayPal, Verizon, and Ashley Furniture. Like many of the other banks listed here, it can be difficult to predict exactly which credit reports Synchrony will access. For the majority of their cards, it seems that they will pull the TransUnion report.
Other cards access the Equifax report. This may depend on exactly which Synchrony card you are applying for or what area you live in.
How to Use CreditBoards.com Database for Credit Pulls
If you are searching for information on which credit card companies utilize which credit reports, you may want to do your own research on Credit Boards. It is relatively easy to see this information if you know how to utilize their search function on the credit pull database.
The first and easiest way to use this tool is the search bar. You can type in a specific bank or creditor to see what other users have experienced with this lender. For example, you can type in Bank of America to see a full list of all the entries from this bank.
Are you searching for a credit card that pulls from a specific credit bureau? You can also filter it by credit bureau (CRA), consumer state, the date the card was applied for, and whether they were approved.
For example, let’s say that you want to see all cards that pull from Transunion. What credit cards pull TransUnion only? Select TransUnion from the CRA list.
You will end up with a long list of records that have used the TransUnion report. The default option is to sort them by record ID, but you can change this to other criteria. It may be easier to wade through the results if they are filtered by last updated, most reviewed, or by title.
To change the filter option, you will see a black box at the top of your results screen. To the right, there is a dropdown menu titled Sort By. Click here and filter for the results you want to see the most.
What Credit Cards Check Only TransUnion?
If you are curious about which companies will check only the major credit bureau with TransUnion, you are in luck. There are a number of cards that will utilize this credit bureau exclusively.
Keep in mind that these are not guarantees, but they are good educated guesses based on previous consumer reports history.
- Bank of American Business Card
- Barclays Wyndham Business Visa Card
- Mission Lane
- PayPal Mastercard (offered by Synchrony)
- Subaru/Chase Auto
- US Bank
- Venmo Visa Card
You can view the full results of which lenders only do TransUnion credit reports by filtering the Credit Boards website by CRA. Select TransUnion and then see all of the results. This can be extremely helpful if you want to use your TransUnion report only because it is the best report you have.
Managing Your Credit Pulls
There is a lot of effort that goes into managing your credit pulls. Be sure to know when you are issuing permission for a hard credit pull versus a soft one. You should also be aware of which report a lender is going to pull before applying for a new card or loan. This can help you to better manage your credit score. While it is not an exact science, a good guess about which report will be pulled can be extremely advantageous!