Guide to credit card offers: The meaning of 'pre-approved' – and other mysteries

Credit-card companies often say you are "pre-approved," "pre-screened," "pre-qualified," or "pre-selected" to receive their credit card. Here is a guide to sorting through credit-card offers:

2. Do these offers affect my credit score?

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    The Equifax Credit Score Card is pictured in this 2009 file photo. 'Pre-screened' offers from credit card companies won't hurt your credit score, unless you apply.
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No. During the screening process for any type of offer, the bank or card issuer conducts a soft inquiry into your credit history. Companies conduct soft inquiries when you are not directly applying for credit. Because they are not pulling your credit report, as they would in a hard inquiry after an application is submitted, it does not affect your credit rating. In fact, you will probably have no knowledge of a soft inquiry. If you were to apply for one of those pre-anything offers, a hard pull would take place. Each hard pull may lower your score by up to 5 points per pull for six months.

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