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Hard Inquiries Down 6% in US — Here Are the States With the Biggest Shifts

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

After a year of high inflation, hard credit inquiries — which generally occur when you apply for a loan or line of credit such as a credit card, mortgage or personal loan — are down 5.6% in the U.S.

But what does this mean for the economy? LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz says it’s hard to say, but it could be a good sign.

“We do know that one of the Fed’s goals in raising rates so quickly in 2022 was to tamp down consumer demand in an effort to curtail inflation,” he says. “These numbers certainly seem to indicate that the rate hikes have helped cool consumer demand for various loans, but it’s still unclear how much of an effect this will have on inflation, and how quickly.”

We looked at which states’ residents had the highest rate of hard inquiries and which saw the largest decreases in the prior six months. Here’s what we found.

Key findings

  • Nine of the 10 states with the highest percentage of consumers with one or more hard inquiries in the past six months are in the South. Mississippi (58.2%), Louisiana (57.4%) and Tennessee (56.8%) top the list. In contrast, only 37.0% of consumers in Utah had one or more hard inquiries in that period, followed by 37.9% in Massachusetts and 38.9% in Colorado.
  • Looking wider, hard inquiries are down 5.6% in the past six months compared to the prior six months. From June through November 2022, 45.6% of U.S. consumers had one or more hard inquiries, down from 48.3% in the preceding six months from December 2021 through May 2022.
  • At the state level, Utah saw the biggest dip in hard inquiries between these two periods. 12.8% fewer Utah consumers had one or more hard inquiries in the six months ended November 2022 compared to the preceding six months, followed by 12.3% in Delaware and 10.1% in Vermont. On the flip side, 11.1% more consumers in North Dakota had at least one hard inquiry, followed by 6.1% in Wyoming and 3.1% in Nebraska.
  • Kentucky moves to the No. 1 spot when tracking the highest percentage of consumers with at least six hard inquiries in the past six months. Kentucky, at 9.4%, is ahead of Mississippi and Arkansas, tied for second at 8.7%. That rate is just 2.5% in Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts.

South dominates among states with highest rate of consumers getting hard credit checks

Which states have the highest rate of consumers with hard credit checks in the past six months? Look no further than the South: Nine of the 10 states with the highest percentage of consumers with one or more hard inquiries from June through November 2022 are Southern states. Of these, Mississippi (58.2%), Louisiana (57.4%) and Tennessee (56.8%) top the list.

10 states with the highest rate of consumers getting hard inquiries in the past 6 months

RankState% of consumers with hard inquiries in the past 6 months
1Mississippi58.2%
2Louisiana57.4%
3Tennessee56.8%
4Kentucky56.2%
5Arkansas55.8%
6West Virginia54.9%
7Alabama53.0%
8Oklahoma52.6%
9Iowa52.0%
10South Carolina51.2%

Source: LendingTree analysis of the anonymized credit reports of 500,000 LendingTree users. The data covers June through November 2022. Percentages are displayed with one decimal, though unrounded numbers were used to determine the rankings.

Average credit scores may impact these states’ rankings, according to October 2022 data (the latest available at the time of research) from the VantageScore CreditGauge. Two of the three states with the highest rates of consumers with hard inquiries in the past six months have the lowest average credit scores in the U.S. — Mississippi (662) and Louisiana (668). Tennessee (684) isn’t far behind.

Because these states’ residents have among the lowest credit scores, consumers may apply for multiple lines of credit or loans before getting approved. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York SCE Credit Access Survey conducted in October 2022, 8.4% of consumers who applied for credit over the past 12 months were rejected. While that’s a relatively low percentage, credit scores make a difference. Just over a quarter (25.1%) of consumers with a credit score of 680 or less applied and were rejected. That compares with 6.7% of consumers with a credit score between 681 and 759 and 2.2% with a credit score of 760 or higher.

In contrast, Utah had the lowest rate of consumers with hard inquiries in the past six months. Only 37.0% of consumers in Utah had one or more hard inquiries, followed by 37.9% in Massachusetts and 38.9% in Colorado. Following a similar trend but on the opposite side of the spectrum, those states with the lowest rates have among the highest average credit scores. While Utah is just outside the top 10 at 711, according to the October 2022 data from the VantageScore CreditGauge, Massachusetts ties for the fifth-highest at 718 and Colorado is tied for ninth at 714.

Full rankings

States with the highest rate of consumers getting hard inquiries in the past 6 months

RankState% of consumers with hard inquiries in the past 6 months
1Mississippi58.2%
2Louisiana57.4%
3Tennessee56.8%
4Kentucky56.2%
5Arkansas55.8%
6West Virginia54.9%
7Alabama53.0%
8Oklahoma52.6%
9Iowa52.0%
10South Carolina51.2%
11Indiana51.2%
12Missouri51.0%
13Nebraska50.3%
14North Dakota49.8%
15North Carolina49.6%
16Texas48.2%
17Georgia48.1%
18Florida47.5%
19Ohio47.5%
20South Dakota47.1%
21Virginia46.7%
22Wyoming46.5%
23Maryland45.8%
24Wisconsin45.6%
25Montana45.3%
26New Mexico45.3%
27Michigan45.1%
28Pennsylvania45.0%
29Maine44.6%
30Nevada44.3%
31Minnesota44.2%
32Arizona44.0%
33Idaho43.6%
34Kansas43.3%
35Delaware43.1%
36Illinois42.9%
37Oregon42.8%
38Connecticut42.8%
39District of Columbia42.2%
40Vermont41.7%
41New Hampshire41.6%
42Alaska41.0%
43New Jersey40.9%
44Hawaii40.2%
45California39.9%
46Washington39.9%
47Rhode Island39.3%
48New York39.0%
49Colorado38.9%
50Massachusetts37.9%
51Utah37.0%

Source: LendingTree analysis of the anonymized credit reports of 500,000 LendingTree users. The data covers June through November 2022. Percentages are displayed with one decimal, though unrounded numbers were used to determine the rankings.

Hard inquiries down 5.6% in past 6 months

While some states may have notably high hard inquiry rates, a broader analysis suggests that hard inquiries are down overall. From June through November 2022, 45.6% of U.S. consumers had one or more hard inquiries. That compares to 48.3% in the prior six months from December 2021 through May 2022 — representing a decrease of 5.6%.

“Rising interest rates are surely playing a big role in this,” Schulz says. “It’s a lot more expensive to borrow today than six months ago, regardless of whether you’re talking about houses, cars, credit cards or anything else. That’s likely making a lot of people think twice about applying for loans right now.”

Schulz believes inflation is also having an effect. Rising prices mean less expendable income, and less expendable income means less money available to pay off a loan — leaving many consumers to reconsider taking one out if they don’t need it.

Federal data suggests similarly. The SCE Credit Access Survey found that auto loan and mortgage applications fell in 2022 compared to 2021. Meanwhile, credit card application rates rose slightly in the same period. Inflation may also be why the demand for credit cards has ticked up: An earlier LendingTree study on food spending found that consumers are using credit cards increasingly often at the grocery store and when dining out.

Reminder: Hard inquiries are triggered when you apply for a loan or a line of credit. Depending on the type of credit, seeking prequalification generally counts as a soft credit inquiry that doesn’t impact your credit score. (Checking your score is also considered a soft inquiry.) If you’re seeking a loan or line of credit, check with the lender to make sure what stages of the process require hard or soft credit checks.

Utah had the biggest dip in hard inquiries

At the state level, Utah saw the biggest dip in hard inquiries over our examined periods. In Utah, 12.8% fewer consumers had one or more hard inquiries in the six months between June and November 2022 compared to the preceding six months (December 2021 to May 2022). That’s followed by Delaware (12.3%) and Vermont (10.1%).

In comparison, North Dakota saw the largest increase in hard inquiries. In North Dakota, 11.1% more consumers had at least one hard inquiry. That’s followed by Wyoming (6.1%) and Nebraska (3.1%).

Full rankings

States with the biggest decreases in the rate of consumers with hard inquiries

RankState% of consumers with hard inquiries from December 2021 through May 2022% of consumers with hard inquiries from June 2022 through November 2022Point changePercentage change
1Utah42.4%37.0%-5.4%-12.8%
2Delaware49.2%43.1%-6.0%-12.3%
3Vermont46.4%41.7%-4.7%-10.1%
4Arizona48.7%44.0%-4.7%-9.6%
5Connecticut47.2%42.8%-4.4%-9.3%
6California43.7%39.9%-3.7%-8.5%
7New Jersey44.7%40.9%-3.8%-8.5%
8Texas52.5%48.2%-4.2%-8.1%
9Georgia52.1%48.1%-4.0%-7.7%
10Michigan48.8%45.1%-3.7%-7.6%
11New Mexico48.9%45.3%-3.6%-7.4%
12Illinois46.3%42.9%-3.4%-7.4%
13New Hampshire44.9%41.6%-3.3%-7.4%
14Ohio51.2%47.5%-3.7%-7.3%
15Massachusetts40.7%37.9%-2.8%-6.8%
16Colorado41.6%38.9%-2.7%-6.5%
17Rhode Island41.8%39.3%-2.5%-6.0%
18Nevada47.1%44.3%-2.8%-6.0%
19Washington42.5%39.9%-2.6%-6.0%
20Florida50.5%47.5%-2.9%-5.8%
21South Carolina54.0%51.2%-2.8%-5.2%
22Alabama55.9%53.0%-2.9%-5.2%
23Virginia49.1%46.7%-2.4%-4.9%
24Hawaii42.2%40.2%-2.1%-4.9%
25Montana47.5%45.3%-2.2%-4.6%
26North Carolina51.9%49.6%-2.3%-4.4%
27Arkansas58.3%55.8%-2.5%-4.3%
28Maine46.5%44.6%-2.0%-4.2%
29Pennsylvania46.9%45.0%-1.9%-4.1%
30Oregon44.6%42.8%-1.8%-4.1%
31Kansas45.1%43.3%-1.9%-4.1%
32Indiana53.3%51.2%-2.1%-3.9%
33Alaska42.6%41.0%-1.6%-3.9%
34Wisconsin47.5%45.6%-1.8%-3.9%
35Missouri52.8%51.0%-1.8%-3.4%
36Minnesota45.6%44.2%-1.4%-3.1%
37Mississippi60.0%58.2%-1.7%-2.9%
38Idaho44.8%43.6%-1.2%-2.8%
39Louisiana59.0%57.4%-1.6%-2.8%
40Maryland46.9%45.8%-1.1%-2.4%
41Kentucky57.6%56.2%-1.3%-2.3%
42Oklahoma53.8%52.6%-1.2%-2.3%
43New York39.6%39.0%-0.6%-1.6%
44Tennessee56.5%56.8%0.3%0.6%
45South Dakota46.0%47.1%1.1%2.4%
46West Virginia53.5%54.9%1.4%2.6%
47District of Columbia41.0%42.2%1.1%2.7%
48Iowa50.5%52.0%1.5%3.0%
49Nebraska48.8%50.3%1.5%3.1%
50Wyoming43.9%46.5%2.7%6.1%
51North Dakota44.8%49.8%5.0%11.1%

Source: LendingTree analysis of the anonymized credit reports of 500,000 LendingTree users. The data covers December 2021 through May 2022 and June 2022 through November 2022. Percentages are displayed with one decimal, though unrounded numbers were used to determine the rankings.

Which states have the highest percentage of consumers with 6 or more hard inquiries?

When it comes to the states with the highest percentage of consumers with at least six hard inquiries, Kentucky takes the lead. Over the last six months, 9.4% of consumers in Kentucky had six or more hard inquiries. Mississippi and Arkansas follow at 8.7%.

Meanwhile, that rate is just 2.5% in Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts — the lowest across all states.

10 states with the highest rate of consumers getting 6 or more hard inquiries in the past 6 months

RankState% of consumers with 6 or more hard inquiries in the past 6 months
1Kentucky9.4%
2Mississippi8.7%
3Arkansas8.7%
4West Virginia8.4%
5Alabama8.2%
6Indiana7.8%
7Oklahoma7.6%
8Missouri7.2%
9Wisconsin6.7%
10Ohio6.7%

Source: LendingTree analysis of the anonymized credit reports of 500,000 LendingTree users. The data covers June through November 2022. Percentages are displayed with one decimal, though unrounded numbers were used to determine the rankings.

Overall, the U.S. rate of consumers with six or more hard credit checks dropped by 11.8% between June through November 2022 (5.0%) and the preceding six months (5.6%).

According to Schulz, interest rates likely play a role in the drop here, too. “It’s one thing to apply for a bunch of loans when interest rates are low and borrowing is cheap, but it’s something else entirely when that changes,” he says. “Suddenly, that home remodel or that new car you were interested in might just be out of reach, and those new rewards credit cards might seem like unnecessary extravagances. I suspect that’s part of what is happening today.”

The states with the biggest drops between the six-month periods were Hawaii (33.7%), South Dakota (31.6%) and Vermont (24.7%).

Important: Depending on the credit-scoring model, multiple hard inquiries in a short period should count as one. For example, similar loan inquiries in a 45-day period are likely to be counted as one inquiry for your FICO Score. For your VantageScore, that period is 14 days.

Full rankings

States with the biggest decreases in the rate of consumers with 6 or more hard inquiries

RankState% of consumers with 6 or more hard inquiries from December 2021 through May 2022% of consumers with 6 or more hard inquiries from June 2022 through November 2022Point changePercentage change
1Hawaii3.7%2.5%-1.3%-33.7%
2South Dakota7.0%4.8%-2.2%-31.6%
3Vermont5.7%4.3%-1.4%-24.7%
4North Dakota4.9%3.7%-1.2%-24.2%
5Idaho3.9%3.0%-0.9%-23.6%
6Utah3.6%2.8%-0.8%-23.3%
7California3.6%2.8%-0.8%-22.0%
8Montana5.2%4.0%-1.1%-21.9%
9Nevada4.4%3.5%-0.9%-21.2%
10Alaska3.6%2.9%-0.7%-20.6%
11Iowa7.0%5.6%-1.4%-20.2%
12Arkansas10.7%8.7%-2.0%-19.1%
13Arizona5.5%4.5%-1.0%-18.9%
14Texas7.2%5.9%-1.3%-18.1%
15New Jersey3.9%3.2%-0.7%-17.7%
16Michigan6.4%5.3%-1.0%-16.3%
17Massachusetts3.0%2.5%-0.5%-16.1%
18Missouri8.5%7.2%-1.4%-16.1%
19Delaware6.0%5.1%-0.9%-14.8%
20Wyoming5.8%4.9%-0.9%-14.8%
21Louisiana7.4%6.3%-1.1%-14.5%
22Pennsylvania5.6%4.8%-0.8%-14.3%
23Mississippi10.2%8.7%-1.4%-14.1%
24Rhode Island3.3%2.8%-0.5%-13.8%
25Ohio7.7%6.7%-1.1%-13.7%
26Washington3.8%3.4%-0.5%-12.7%
27New Hampshire4.3%3.8%-0.5%-11.5%
28Georgia6.5%5.8%-0.7%-11.3%
29Florida5.7%5.1%-0.6%-10.6%
30Illinois6.1%5.5%-0.6%-9.7%
31North Carolina6.4%5.9%-0.6%-9.0%
32New Mexico5.6%5.1%-0.5%-9.0%
33Tennessee6.9%6.3%-0.6%-8.6%
34South Carolina7.1%6.5%-0.6%-8.5%
35Maine5.6%5.1%-0.5%-8.2%
36Wisconsin7.2%6.7%-0.5%-7.1%
37West Virginia9.1%8.4%-0.6%-7.0%
38Colorado4.0%3.7%-0.3%-6.6%
39Virginia4.9%4.6%-0.3%-5.6%
40Indiana8.3%7.8%-0.4%-5.4%
41Nebraska5.4%5.2%-0.3%-5.3%
42Maryland4.6%4.4%-0.2%-5.0%
43New York2.6%2.5%-0.1%-4.0%
44Oklahoma7.9%7.6%-0.3%-3.9%
45Kentucky9.7%9.4%-0.3%-3.1%
46Alabama8.4%8.2%-0.2%-2.4%
47Connecticut4.0%3.9%-0.1%-1.7%
48Oregon3.3%3.3%0.0%-0.6%
49Minnesota4.4%4.3%0.0%-0.2%
50Kansas5.5%5.5%0.1%0.9%
51District of Columbia3.5%4.1%0.7%18.8%

Source: LendingTree analysis of the anonymized credit reports of 500,000 LendingTree users. The data covers December 2021 through May 2022 and June 2022 through November 2022. Percentages are displayed with one decimal, though unrounded numbers were used to determine the rankings.

Expert tips to better ensure you’re approved for a new line of credit

Although credit inquiries are down overall, it’s worth noting that 28.0% of U.S. consumers will most likely apply for one or more types of credit in the next 12 months, according to the SCE Credit Access Survey.

Because hard credit checks impact your credit score, it’s best to limit them as much as possible — meaning you should take a few steps to better ensure your new credit applications are approved. Schulz recommends:

  • Checking your credit report first. “It’s important to review your report for many reasons, including making sure there aren’t any errors holding your credit score down unnecessarily,” he says. “Even a single incorrectly attributed late payment can knock 50 or more points off your credit score, and that can have a real impact on the terms of your next loan and possibly even your ability to get it.”
  • Automating your payments. “Nothing matters more to your credit score than your payment history,” Schulz says. “If you can’t manage to pay on time every time, you’re never going to have great credit. One of the best ways to assure that you pay consistently is to set up automatic payments for your card. Ideally, you’d pay the balance in full each month. But if that’s not possible, make sure you’ve set it up to pay at least the minimum.”
Important: Hard inquiries remain on your credit report for up to two years, but they generally only impact your credit score for a year. Ultimately, new credit accounts for only 10% of a credit score, but that can stand out more for consumers with lower scores.

Methodology

LendingTree researchers analyzed the anonymized credit reports of 500,000 LendingTree users in separate periods six months apart:

  • May 2022
  • November 2022

In both, we analyzed the percentage of consumers with hard inquiries in the past six months (December 2021 through May 2022 and June 2022 through November 2022). We looked at that percentage for consumers with one or more hard inquiries and six or more hard inquiries. We then calculated the point change and percentage change between both periods.

 

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