Many looking to buy a home know that having a high credit score is key to both qualifying for a mortgage loan and locking in a lower interest rate. But one common misconception many have is that shopping around with various mortgage companies to find the best rate will hurt their credit score.

A recent article by The New York Times illustrates that this is simply not the case. It turns out that both FICO and VantageScore will not penalize individuals for multiple mortgage inquiries, as long as the inquiries are made within a relatively short time period.

However, there are plenty of other factors that can affect one’s credit score, and these will also impact the rates supplied by mortgage companies. Applying for several credit cards in a short period of time or building a substantial amount of credit debt can greatly hurt one’s credit score, resulting in higher mortgage loan rates.

It makes sense that potential home buyers would want to lock into the best loan rate possible. After all, a lower rate can save home buyers thousands of dollars in the long run. But that rate is highly dependent on an individual’s other financial decisions. Taking the right steps now to improve one’s credit score can make a big difference when it is time to take out a mortgage loan.