Soft Search Loans

Applying for a loan can feel like a shot in the dark. With a soft search, you can find loans that you’re more likely to be approved for. Check your eligibility now and find the cheapest loan.

Table of contents

Written by Mark Grimley
Read time: ~5 mins
Published: 30th November 2023

What is a soft search?

A soft search is a way for lenders to review your credit report to figure out your suitability to obtain credit.

Every time a soft search is carried out by a lender, the search will be recorded on your credit report, although only you will be able to see this information - not providers. This means soft searches won’t affect your credit score, no matter how often they are performed.

Soft searches, otherwise known as soft credit checks, happen when a loan provider wants a high-level overview of your credit history so they can pre-approve an offer or show you what you could potentially be eligible for, before you fully commit to applying.

What is the difference between a soft and a hard search?

A soft search is recorded on your credit report when you request a quotation from a loan provider to find out what credit amount you could be approved for and the interest rate that might be available to you before applying.

A hard search is recorded on your credit report when you actually apply for a loan.

A hard search is a comprehensive review of your credit history and will look into how you’ve managed borrowing in the past. It’s what loan providers use to determine how risky it is for them to lend to you.

Here’s a further breakdown of the differences between soft and hard searches:

Soft search

  • Can’t be seen by other lenders and credit providers
  • Does not affect your credit score
  • Performed by a lender to check your eligibility

Hard search

  • Can be seen by other loan providers
  • Remain on your credit file for up to 12 months
  • Can negatively affect your credit score if too many of them have been performed in a short space of time
product logo

Don't risk missing something important

Get the only credit report that checks data from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Crediva.

See your multi agency credit report free

Try it FREE for 30 days, then £14.99 per month - cancel anytime online

Why should I use a soft search eligibility checker?

Hard searches are recorded on your credit file, leaving what’s known as a 'mark’. Applying for multiple credit products like loans in a short space of time will mean that you have lots of marks left on your credit report. Too many hard searches in a short period of time can lower your credit score, which can put off future lenders.

Because of this, applying for a loan, getting rejected, and then applying for another one within hours or days isn't great for your credit score. Ideally you want to leave approximately six months between applying for different credit products if you can.

A soft search eligibility checker can be used to see what loans you're most likely to be accepted for before actually applying, along with the interest rate you’ll be offered. This means you can submit your application with confidence. A soft search also reduces the need to apply to multiple lenders at once.

How does a soft search work?

Our personal loan soft search tool will ask you to provide key information about yourself and your credit history via our form.

Some of the details you'll need to provide include:

  • What you need the loan for
  • Personal information like your name, phone number, date of birth, and email address
  • Marital status
  • Number of dependants
  • Your addresses for the last three years and residential status
  • Employment status and job title
  • Your salary and other income
  • Your expenses, such as rent/mortgage, council tax, and utility bills
  • The amount of existing debt you may currently have
  • Bank account details

Completing our loan search application shouldn't take more than two minutes if you have all this information to hand.

Search For Loans

Find out your eligibility with the Choose Wisely soft search tool

Will I definitely be accepted with only a soft credit check?

When you use the Choose Wisely loans eligibility checker, it's important to remember the loans suggested aren’t 100% guaranteed to approve your application.

Your credit history won’t be thoroughly checked until you actually apply for a loan. The final decision on whether or not you'll be approved for a loan will always be down to the lender's eligibility requirements.

Can a soft search help with bad credit?

If you have a poor credit history, using our eligibility checker to compare loans will allow you to see which loans you're more likely to be approved for and which ones may not be suitable.

To give yourself the best chances of getting a loan, you can do a few things to improve your credit score. These include:

  • Updating any outdated or wrong information on your credit report
  • Registering to vote
  • Utilising less than 30% of your credit limit on any credit cards
  • Paying off any existing debts if you can
  • Building a long credit history by keeping current accounts, credit cards and other credit accounts open
  • Making repayments on time

Lenders will check if you can afford to pay back your loan based on your income and existing borrowing. The details you provide, such as your employment status and spending, can also impact your chances of approval.

If you're applying for a loan with a lender you already use for a different financial product, how you've used those products can also impact their decision.

If you want to better understand your eligibility and what loans are available to you, use our soft search tool for your best chance of getting approved for a loan.

Soft search loans FAQs

Can lenders see a soft search?

When a lender looks at your credit report, they will not be able to see any past soft searches that have been performed. Only you are able to see this information. For this reason soft searches do not affect your credit rating.

Do multiple soft searches affect credit rating?

Soft searches will not affect your credit rating, no matter how many have been carried out on your credit report. This is because lenders and credit providers are unable to see when a soft search has been performed, meaning lenders can’t factor them into their decision-making, even if you’ve had lots performed in a short space of time.

Written by
Mark Grimley
Head of Partnerships & Take Control Author at Choose Wisely

Mark joined Choose Wisely in 2015. He continues to work in close contact with the providers, brokers and journalists operating in the world of consumer credit.

Important Information.

All of the information in this guide is correct at the time of writing.

If you complete a loan search application on the Choose Wisely website, the rates shown may vary based on your personal circumstances, are subject to status and are available to those aged 18 and over. Rates available range from a minimum of 13.9%APR to a maximum of 1721%APR Representative and loan repayment periods range from 3 to 60 months.

If you need financial advice you can visit stepchange, speak to citizens advice, call the national debtline or speak to

If you've been declined, please refer to your credit report to gain an understanding of why before making further applications.
You can access your credit report for free from Credit Karma, Clearscore or Experian.

Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to