Inquiries for a preapproved offer do not affect a credit score unless a person follows through with the actual application. Even though someone is preapproved, he or she must fill out the application that accompanies the preapproval. A preapproval basically means the lender thinks the borrower has a good chance at being approved, but it is not a guarantee.
Two Types of Inquiries
There are two types of inquiries: hard inquiries and soft inquiries. A soft inquiry is what lenders use to preapprove a consumer for a line of credit. Soft inquiries also happen when a current lender pulls a credit report for an account review, or when a debt collector checks a credit report for recent activity. A hard inquiry is what is used when someone applies for a credit card or loan. When the consumer fills out the application that accompanies a preapproval, sometimes the lender uses the soft inquiry that was previously pulled, and sometimes the lender pulls a brand new report with a hard inquiry.
Soft inquiries are seen only by the consumer and do not accompany requests for a credit report. They do not affect credit scores, and other lenders cannot see them. Hard inquiries can affect a consumer's credit score if there are many of them. Even though the impact of hard inquiries on a credit score is very low, other lenders can see them and sometimes deny a credit application because the consumer has too many other recent inquiries. These hard inquiries fall off a credit report after two years.