Credit card issuers usually advise their customers to wait at least 90 days and ideally six months between credit card applications in order to protect their credit scores and avoid having them lower, which could negatively impact when applying for mortgage loans or making other large financial commitments.
Understanding what’s impacting your credit score and taking steps to fix it are the keys to improving it. Here are some suggestions on when and how to apply for credit cards:
1. Keep Your Current Cards Active
As a general guideline, it’s best to wait at least 90 days between credit card applications – six months is even preferable – in order to prevent multiple hard credit inquiries from negatively affecting your score and also ensure compliance with issuer restrictions.
Waiting may seem frustrating if you are already paying your payments and looking to maximize rewards; however, applying for too many cards could result in their rejection due to recent credit inquiries or other reasons that could jeopardise your application process.
Credit card issuers look at more than just payment history when considering credit card applications – they also consider factors like card age, utilization ratio and any recent hard credit inquiries on your report. Too many inquiries might signal to issuers that you’re applying for new lines of credit too frequently and using these lines to spend recklessly and build up balances that you might struggle to pay off later.
Keep in mind that different credit card issuers have their own set of guidelines and restrictions regarding when it is appropriate or not appropriate to approve someone for a new credit card application, which could range from minimum credit score requirements to the number of open accounts you have or length of time since last application. While not officially documented, customers and enthusiasts often gain insight into this through firsthand accounts about acceptance or rejection of new card applications.
Likewise, if you possess an excellent credit score and plan to purchase a home in the near future, it would be prudent to wait to apply for new credit cards until after signing your mortgage contract. Doing this may help protect against sudden drops in credit score that could increase interest rates and cost thousands over time.
Credit card issuers may limit how frequently you’re approved for one of their cards if they notice that you are applying too frequently in search of signup bonuses. Although people looking to maximize rewards can benefit from applying frequently for new credit, this often sends up red flags with issuers, who suspect you might be trying to game their system with new applications just to earn signup bonuses – in such instances it is wiser to be patient and wait until it makes sense before applying.
2. Don’t Apply for More Than One Card at a Time
Although there’s technically no set wait period between credit card applications, you should try and give yourself some buffer time between applications. Each hard inquiry sent to the credit bureaus can bring down your score significantly if too many inquiries come at once – which can be especially harmful when applying for multiple cards at the same time.
Credit card issuers will consider the frequency of your applications when making their decision to approve or deny your credit application. If multiple cards are requested within a short timeframe, they could assume you have poor credit and are trying to finance an expensive purchase; as a result, they might be more cautious about accepting it.
If you recently applied for a credit card and been rejected, the issuer will send you an explanation of their decision – an opportunity for you to review your scores, payment history, and other factors which might influence them before applying again.
Experts generally advise waiting a minimum of six months before applying for another credit card application, since most major bureaus’ credit scoring models take into account factors related to time; including your individual accounts’ ages as well as average account age; adding too many new accounts quickly could reduce this average account age, which would negatively impact your score.
Some credit card issuers also place restrictions on how often you can apply for their cards; Bank of America limits cardholders to two new applications per year while Capital One places limits on how many personal cards can be opened at any one time (though co-branded and business cards do not count).
If you do decide to apply for multiple cards in one day, it is wise to select cards from different issuers in order to ensure each application’s hard inquiry will appear as its own separate entry in your credit report rather than all being reported as one large inquiry.
Credit card issuers should be able to distinguish between legitimate credit card applications and attempts at financing large purchases, since reputable creditors won’t issue credit cards unless they feel confident you will pay your bill on time.
Of course, the right credit card for you will depend on your individual financial circumstances. If you already have excellent credit and are applying for cards to increase rewards earning potential quickly, making more frequent applications might work; otherwise, if rebuilding or shopping for mortgages are part of the plan it’s recommended that applications should wait at least 90 days between applications to avoid unnecessary hard inquiries and increase chances of approval for new credit cards.
3. Don’t Apply for a New Card if You’ve Been Rejected
If you have recently applied for multiple credit cards within a short time frame, it can significantly lower your score. Each new application shows up as a hard inquiry on your report and could reduce it by 10 points or more. Unless your finances are completely spotless and income sufficient, it’s usually wiser to wait at least six months before considering another card application.
If your previous card application was denied, it’s wiser to wait even longer before applying again. This is especially important if you are an aggressive reward chaser applying for multiple cards at once in search of sign-up bonuses; each application could damage your credit score and make qualifying for mortgages or loans more challenging.
Rejection may also make banks and credit card issuers suspicious of your financial health and ability to manage a new account, making them wary about approving applications with higher limits or credit lines than your existing balances.
After being denied credit card application, there are some steps that can help improve your chances of approval. One is to reach out to the card issuer and request reconsideration; this gives you an opportunity to explain your finances directly with one of their representatives; having answers ready ahead may also prove useful, such as why you want this particular card and/or deserve approval.
Your next step may also include trying to address any concerns that led to your denial. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, card issuers are legally obliged to explain why applicants were rejected – this could include anything from having too high of a debt-to-income ratio or limited credit history as possible reasons. By identifying and resolving the problems behind the rejections, you may be able to secure better terms or an enhanced bonus in the future.
As you wait to reapply for credit, take this as an opportunity to improve both your credit score and spending habits. If a card rejected your application, use that as a signal that it may be time for smarter borrowing practices in the future. Experian Boost can give you an estimate of your score that could impact loan applications – giving you peace of mind before committing yourself to major life decisions.