A hard inquiry is recorded on your credit report when you seek for credit and a lender analyses your credit report. Hard inquiries stay on credit reports for two years and have less of an influence with time. In the short term, though, having too many hard inquiries on your credit report can hurt your credit score. If you're going to be comparison shopping by applying to multiple lenders, make sure you do so in a timely manner to avoid hard inquiries. Multiple hard inquiries for the same sort of credit product will usually be counted as a single event by credit scoring algorithms if they happen within a few weeks. Do not spread out your comparison shopping and application processes across a long period of time. Another possibility is to inquire if a lender can prescreen or pre approve you for a loan. Preapproval is frequently treated as a soft inquiry, which has no bearing on credit scores.