Soft Search Loans

What are they and do they exist?

Looking for a loan? It can be hard to know exactly where to start, which is why we have put together the following guide to help you understand the difference between a soft credit search and a hard credit search.

Little Loans is a credit broker, working with a panel of lenders to try to match you with a suitable loan. We do this using a soft credit search, which could help protect your credit score from multiple hard searches.*

  • Search for a loan amount between £100 and £10,000.
  • Repay your loan in monthly instalments from 3 to 60 months, depending on how much you apply to borrow.
  • Our service is free to use.
  • No-obligation quote.
  • Search for a loan with no impact to your credit score.*

*If you’re matched with a loan and you choose to go ahead and make a full application, you will undergo a hard credit search directly with the lender. This will leave a footprint on your credit file for up to 12 months and will affect your credit score.

What are soft search loans?

You cannot get a loan solely from a soft search. Lenders are required to assess your affordability with a creditworthiness assessment prior to issuing the loan. There is no such thing as a soft search loan.

A soft search is sometimes called a soft credit search or soft credit check. It gives potential lenders and credit brokers an insight into your financial history without leaving a mark on your credit file or affecting your credit score.

A soft search could be an ideal way to check how likely you are to be approved for a loan before deciding whether to make a full application.

Soft search v hard search

Soft search Hard search
Provides a brief overview of your financial profile and history. Provides an in-depth view of your financial profile and history.
No impact on your credit score. Too many hard searches over a short period of time could lead to a decline in your credit score.
Doesn’t leave a footprint on your credit file and is only visible to you and the company who carried out the check. Leaves a footprint on your credit file and can be seen by other potential lenders and providers. Can remain on your credit file for up to 12 months.
Can be carried out by credit brokers and lenders to assess your eligibility. Usually carried out directly by lenders as part of their decision-making process.

Will a credit search affect my credit score?

If you have poor or bad credit, you may be wondering how searching for a loan might impact your credit score.

When you apply for a loan directly with a lender, they’ll assess your affordability with a hard credit search. Each hard search will leave a mark on your credit file and, as previously mentioned, too many hard searches within a short space of time could have a negative effect on your credit score.

When you search for a loan using a credit broker, such as Little Loans, your information is shared with a panel of lenders at the same time to try to find you a suitable match. This is all covered by one soft search, which will have no impact to your credit score.

What information do I need to provide for a soft search?

To search for a loan with Little Loans, you’ll be asked to provide some information, such as:

  • How much money you need to borrow, and for how long;
  • What you plan to use the money for;
  • Your personal details, such as your name, living situation, address, date of birth, telephone number, email address, relationship status, and number of dependents, if applicable;
  • Your employment status, including how long you’ve been employed at your current place of work (if applicable); and
  • Your income and upcoming pay dates.

We’ll also ask for your bank details, including your sort code and account number, so that we can pass this information to the lender and ensure that you can receive your loan, if approved.

Little Loans do not charge any fees for our service and will never take any money from your bank account.

Who can search for a loan with Litte Loans?

To search for a loan with Little Loans, you must:

  • Be over the age of 18;
  • Be a UK resident with a UK address;
  • Have a UK bank account with a valid debit card; and
  • Have a regular source of income paid directly into your bank account.

How it works

The Little Loans process is straightforward.

  1. Choose your loan amount and term and fill in our online form - this should take no longer than five minutes.
  2. In just 60 seconds, we’ll run a soft search and scan our panel of lenders for a suitable loan for your circumstances.
  3. If we’ve found you a match, you’ll be transferred to the lender’s website to complete some additional checks. A hard credit search will also be carried out by the lender at this stage.
  4. If the lender is happy with the results of the checks, you’ll be sent a loan agreement. Be sure to read this thoroughly before deciding whether to go ahead. If you’re happy, you can sign and return the agreement.
  5. Some of the lenders on the Little Loans panel can send your money on the same day your loan is approved. The time it takes for the money to appear in your account will depend on your bank’s policies and procedures.

If our soft search reveals that we’ve found you a suitable loan, you’ll be redirected to the lender’s website, where you’ll be required to undergo some further checks, including a hard credit search.

The lender’s decision to accept your application will be based on various factors, such as the result of your hard credit check.

Can I get a loan with just a soft search?

A responsible lender will always carry out an affordability check as part of the application process. This is usually a hard credit search, but some lenders use Open Banking to determine if you will be able to make your monthly repayments. Whichever method your lender uses, always make sure that they are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can check this here.

There are lenders, including some of those on the Little Loans panel, who specialise in loans for those with a poor credit history.

I’m worried about my finances; where can I turn for help?

Money stress is something that many of us will experience in our lifetime, and we understand how consuming these worries can be.

Please know that free, impartial help and advice is always available across a variety of confidential websites such as StepChange, MoneyHelper, National Debtline, and Citizens Advice.

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“Easy pleasant service, quick decision and easy account management.”

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Representative example: Amount of credit: £1000 for 12 months at £123.40 per month. Total amount repayable of £1,480.77 Interest: £480.77. Interest rate: 79.5% pa (fixed). 79.5% APR Representative. We’re a fully regulated and authorised credit broker and not a lender