An "inquiry" is a listing of the name of a credit grantor or authorized user who has accessed your credit file. Credit grantors post an inquiry before offering you a preapproved credit application.
Some examples of those who can access your credit files are:
Credit inquiries, when an accumulation occurs, can negatively impact your credit score. This means that if you apply for a lot of credit within a 90 day period of time, you will have a credit inquiry from each creditor that you applied with and this can negatively impact your credit score.
If you are applying for a mortgage, all credit inquiries made within 14 days count as one. Some brokers and direct lenders may give incorrectly advise that all inquiries in this time frame count seperately.
Credit inquires for auto loans are considered 1 pull within the 14 day time frame like a mortgage loan credit pull. If you are applying for any other type of credit, each one of those pulls will be counted regardless of time frame in which they are pulled.
Credit inquiries count for 10% of your total credit score. When applying for a new mortgage, every point on your credit report can make a big difference. So, do not start shopping for your mortgage until you are ready to act.
If you have several inquiries you will most likely be asked for a LOE (letter of explanation) to describe the reasons for the inquiries.
Many creditors will tell you not to apply with anyone else because this will negatively affect your credit, having numerous credit inquiries reporting to your credit burea reports. Some will make this statement because they are truly not aware but most will state this to you because they do not want you to shop around for a mortgage loan, or a car loan, or any other type of loan. Keep your shopping around limited to a 14 day period and always get at least 2 quotes for anything that you are shopping for so that you can make sure you are getting a good fair deal.