When applying for credit, you allow lenders to ask or "inquire" for a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau.  You may notice that these credit inquiries are listed on your Credit Report.  The only inquiries that may affect your FICO Scores are the ones that result from you applying for new credit.
How much will credit inquiries affect my score?
The impact from an application for credit is different for each person depending on the individual credit history. Credit inquiries have a small impact on a FICO Scores.  An additional credit inquiry will take less than five points off most people FICO Scores. For perspective, the full range for FICO Scores is 300-850. If you have few accounts or a short credit history the impact can be greater. While inquiries often can play a part in assessing risk, they play a minor part. Payment history and credit utilization are much more important factors for your scores.  
FICO Scores ignore inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries will not affect your scores while you're rate shopping. In addition, FICO Scores look on your credit report for rate-shopping inquiries older than 30 days. FICO Scores calculated from the newest versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 45-day span. 
Soft credit inquiry: Occur when a person or company checks your credit report to determine your creditworthiness or as a background check for work.  While these inquiries are listed on the version of the credit report that you (but not other businesses) can view, soft credit inquiries do not affect your credit score. 
Hard credit inquiry: Take place when you apply for credit (credit cards, auto loans, mortgage etc) .  These inquiries are known as hard, or voluntary, credit inquiries. There is a risk that these inquiries “can”affect your credit scores. Potential creditors will see these inquiries listed on your report. 
Inquiries are an essential part in the lending world.  It is good to take your time and effort to browse around.  The inquiry itself will have little or no effect on your credit score.  Multiple inquiries can be explained to any lender, so the risk is nominal.  The real impact for lower are missed payments, high revolving balances, and a lack of positive credit history.  

This was a guest post written by Linda Boscia who is a Business Development Manager for Better Qualified. Better Qualified founded in 2006, is a National Company helping consumers improve, restore and build their credit. Linda has worked with Better Qualified for over 8 years to educate Realtors on the Dos and Donts of Credit. She is dedicated to providing education, self help and support to clients with credit issues.
Linda Boscia I Business Development Manager
Better Qualified