Published in: Banks | April 22, 2019

Does Opening a Savings Account Affect Your Credit?

The act of opening a savings account doesn’t directly affect your credit, but there’s more to the story.A screen reading Credit Rating with options of one to five stars with a finger pointing to five stars.Image source: Getty Images.

If you’re about to open a savings account and are wondering if doing so could affect your credit score, the short answer is “probably not.” Savings account activity is not reported to the major credit bureaus, and this includes opening an account.

That said, there are some things you should know. The type of credit pull your financial institution does can have a minor impact on your credit score. Plus, there’s a new type of FICO® Score that can take bank account information into consideration.

Hard or soft credit inquiry?

Most financial institutions will conduct a credit check (also known as a credit “pull” or “inquiry”) when you apply to open a savings account. There are two ways they could do this:

  1. A soft credit inquiry. This can be thought of as a quick, but unofficial, glance into your credit history. This is the same thing that happens when a creditor “pre-approves” you for credit and it has no effect on your credit score.
  2. A hard credit inquiry. This occurs when a lender officially checks your credit (with your permission) to make a decision. These are part of the “new credit” category of the FICO scoring model and can have an adverse, but generally mild, effect on your credit score.

The good news is that the majority of financial institutions use soft credit pulls when you open a checking account. This includes most major brick-and-mortar financial institutions as well as those offering online savings accounts. According to reports, the vast majority of banks that use hard credit pulls are credit unions. So it may be worth asking if you should expect a hard credit pull if you choose a credit union for your next savings account.

The UltraFICO™ score could be a different story

Americans who don’t have a long-established credit history recently got some good news when FICO announced its brand-new UltraFICO™ credit scoring model in late 2018.

The UltraFICO™ model is quite similar to the standard FICO® Score, but with one key difference: It takes bank account information into consideration. This new scoring methodology is designed for consumers who either don’t have an established credit history or who have a sub-prime FICO® Score under the traditional method.

The UltraFICO™ formula could take savings-related factors into consideration, such as maintaining a balance over a certain level. For example, FICO says that 70% of consumers who show an average savings balance of $400 without any negative balances in the past three months would see their score increase by using the UltraFICO™ score. The UltraFICO™ model also focuses on consumers’ checking account behavior, such as a history of not overdrawing the account, not bouncing checks, and actively using the account responsibly.

The UltraFICO™ credit scoring model will require users to opt in -- both the borrower and the lender. While FICO is rolling the new methodology out on a small-scale pilot program this year, it could take some time before widespread adoption takes place.

The bottom line

On a day-to-day basis, an open savings account won’t affect your credit. The accounts that regularly report your activity to the three major credit bureaus are typically installment loans, revolving credit lines, or adverse items such as charge-offs and collection accounts.

However, depending on your financial institution, opening an account could trigger a hard credit pull, which is a factor in your credit score. It’s unlikely for any single hard credit pull to affect your score by more than a few points, but it’s still worth being aware of, especially if you are applying for a checking account at a credit union.

Savings account rates are skyrocketing -- Earn 23x your bank

Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. Our picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 25x the national average savings account rate. Click here to uncover the best-in-class picks that landed a spot on our shortlist of the best savings accounts for 2019.