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What happens when you apply for credit?

Your guide to what happens after you submit your application.


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If you’ve recently applied for an offer on ClearScore, you may have noticed that your credit score has been affected. Here's why it happens, and why it’s nothing to worry about.

What happens when I apply for credit?

When you apply for credit, a ‘hard search’ will appear on your credit report. It may sound intimidating, but it just means that a lender is checking your credit report in order to decide whether to accept your application. Hard searches drop off your credit report after 12 months.

If you have a lot of hard searches on your report, lenders may assume that you rely on credit to get by, and that you could struggle to pay the money back. Therefore, hard searches are generally seen as negative and can cause a temporary dip in your credit score.

However, a dip in your credit score caused by a hard search is nothing to worry about. As you use your credit product and make regular payments, your credit score will bounce back and may even increase as you build up good repayment history.

Just make sure you don't make lots of credit applications in a short space of time, as this could have a bigger impact on your score.

What happens when I browse my Offers?

When you browse your Offers, a quotation or 'soft' search will be generated. Unlike hard searches, soft searches don't affect your credit score at all. You'll be able to see them on your own credit report, but lenders can't see them.

We use these soft searches to rank your offers by what's relevant to you, and to generate your eligibility scores for products. Eligibility checking is a great way to find out how likely you are to be accepted before you apply, helping you keep your score intact.

Want to see your eligibility scores? You can use ClearScore's soft search technology to check your eligibility for products before you apply.

Who can search my report?

Your report is accessible only to the people you authorise to see it. This is normally part of the application process when applying for credit. Other companies and institutions can also search your credit report with permission, either as part of an identity check or for insurance quotations. These are ‘quotation' (soft) searches and therefore they will not be visible to other lenders.

Can I see who searched my report?

Yes, you can see the credit application searches (otherwise known as 'hard' searches) that have been carried out on your report for up to 2 years.
 Searches that you have made yourself are quotation ('soft') searches and aren’t seen by lending companies.
If you don’t recognise a search that shows up on your report, you should contact the lender for more information.

Next step: see your credit searches in your credit report.

Let’s say I apply for a credit card or a loan. Does the lender see the full details of my report, or only some of it?

When you apply for credit, the lender will carry out a search on your credit report and score. They look at your financial history, see whether you’re high risk or low risk, and then finally decide whether to offer you credit or not.
The lender will be able to see your whole report, except for any personal or quotation searches which are only for you on your personal credit report.

There’s a search on my report that I don’t recognise, what should I do?

If you don’t recognise a search on your report, it could be because other smaller lenders are sometimes owned by larger organisations and are labelled this way on your credit report.


If you have used a price comparison site to search for a product, their terms and conditions sometimes state that a credit search may be carried out by themselves or their partner organisations. This may mean that a search carried out by a company you do not recognise is present on your credit report. It may be one of the insurance companies whose details were shown to you, or it could be a subsidiary of one of those companies (most commonly Aviva or Insurance Initiatives), and is nothing to worry about.
 A record of this search will be kept but it won’t adversely affect your credit score.
The best way to see whether this search should be on your report is to contact the lender directly to see why this search is showing up.

Why is there a search from ClearScore on my report?

When you register for ClearScore, a search will be recorded on your report. 
A search will also show up once a month with ClearScore’s name on it when your report is pulled.
 All of these searches from ClearScore are 'quotation' or 'personal' (soft) searches that are only seen by you and will not affect your credit score in any way. All of these searches will drop off of your report after one year.


Hannah is currently studying for a Master's in Comparative Cultural Analysis. She knows all about personal finance, but as a student, she's an expert in money saving tips and tricks.