How often should you apply for a credit card a quick guide

By Sarah R
Modified on June 6, 2023
how often should you apply for a credit card

Are you thinking about applying for a new credit card account? Before filling out a new credit card application, think about your total available credit first. If you already have a credit card, you may not want to get a new account. 

Credit cards definitely have the ability to affect your credit score. Having too many credit cards can make it easy to lose track of your finances and possibly exceed your credit limit. But if you watch your credit limit closely and are able to keep your debt under control, having more than one credit card might not be a problem for you. 

If you want to apply for a new credit card but don’t want your credit report to take a hit, make sure you wait at least 90 days (up to six months if possible) in between each application. Credit reporting agencies will consider how many credit card applications you’ve filled out recently when determining your credit score. If you’ve filled out too many applications for new credit cards, the agency may see this as a red flag and make a negative note on your credit score. 

Does It Matter How Many Credit Cards I Apply For?

Yes, you can have too many credit inquiries. When you apply for new credit, a credit card company may look at how many applications you’ve filled out recently. If the number is too high, they may deny your credit inquiry for a new card on the spot. Some credit card companies actually have a waiting period to prevent people from filling out multiple applications.

While having multiple cards may increase your credit utilization ratio, it’s also a potentially risky decision that could lead to bad credit. It may be smart to just have one credit card account open and avoid new credit card applications unless absolutely necessary. 

If you’re looking to apply for a new card simply because you’re looking for better rewards or different terms, reach out to your credit issuer first. Your credit card issuer may be able to adjust your interest rates or terms or even offer you improved benefits. You may want to see what you can get from your current credit card accounts before applying for new credit. 

The same rule applies to other types of financial products as well. If you’re applying for many different things—whether they’re online bad credit loans, or title loans—it may affect your credit.

How Do Credit Card Issuers Work?

A credit card is a revolving line of credit available to the account owner for any spending requirements they may have. A credit card issuer, or credit card company, is the financial institution that risks lending their clients credit. Some credit cards may come with an annual fee, or rewards such as no interest charges for the first year. 

Every time you apply for credit card accounts, card issuers will do what is called a hard inquiry on your credit. A hard inquiry, also known as a hard pull or hard credit check, is a formal inquiry into your credit history. Credit bureaus and even potential lenders take note of how many hard credit checks a person has acquired.

Because of this, you want to allow a hard pull on your credit only when it is absolutely necessary. 

On the other hand, understanding soft credit checks is important. A soft credit check is a simple review of your credit score and does not affect your overall credit. You can usually do your own soft credit pull and review your own credit score for free via your bank, credit card company, or other financial institution. You can do many soft credit checks within a short period without your credit score taking a hit at all. In fact, it’s actually smart to do soft pulls and check your credit score often to stay on top of your finances. 

Suppose an applicant has an excellent credit score. In that case, the card issuer will usually approve them for a new credit card account right away. Suppose their credit score is less than ideal or nonexistent. In that case, the chances are that applicant would have a more challenging time finding approval for new credit on their credit card application. 

When credit card companies reject credit card applications, they must send an adverse action notice. An adverse action notice is essentially a brief summary as to why the credit card issuer may deny credit inquiries. While being rejected for new credit cards may be disappointing, keeping your credit score intact is often more important than gaining new credit. 

Why You May Need Credit Card Accounts

Much like personal loans, when used correctly and responsibly credit cards can definitely come in handy. While you want to limit the number of how many credit cards you have, having one available may prove helpful. Here are a few reasons why people may have a credit card. 

Emergency Money 

Some people keep credit cards around in case of a financial emergency. Have you ever been between a paycheck and put a car loan bill or a grocery store run on hold because you just didn’t have the funds? Instead of waiting until your pay day and using your debit card, you could cover those quick expenses with a credit card. Then you can pay off the balance at your convenience when you get paid. 

Credit Card Rewards 

Credit cards also sometimes offer rewards. Sometimes, travel companies will team up with credit card companies to offer travel perks or airline miles for people who use their cards often. Companies also sometimes offer a sign-up bonus to encourage credit applications where the credit card holder gets bonus money just for signing up. 

Credit Safety 

You may opt to use a credit card for your own financial protection. Suppose a person normally uses their debit card for transactions, and someone steals their card and uses it for unauthorized transactions. In that case, their checking account would immediately lose money due to those unwanted transactions. But if a credit card like a Discover card is stolen, the credit card company would be responsible for any losses, not the card owner. 

Building Credit 

A single credit card can actually boost your credit score when used responsibly. Factors like payment history, account history, and available credit go into determining credit scores. When you successfully pay off a credit card balance, this action may positively affect these elements. The longer you properly use and pay off your credit card, the more likely it will reflect positively on your credit report. 

How Multiple Credit Cards Can Affect Your Credit Score and Credit Report 

If you’re in the midst of filling out several credit card applications, think about how this may look on your credit reports. And make sure to check your credit report often. The idea of a new credit card may be exciting, but not at the cost of your credit score. Before sending in those applications for a new credit card, consider how that may affect the following factors contributing to credit scores. 

Payment History 

Unless you are meticulous about tracking your spending habits, multiple credit cards can majorly impact how on-time you are with your payments. If you have several credit cards, you may find it difficult to keep up with their balances. Payment history has a major effect on your credit score, so you want to avoid missing payments at all costs. 

Available Credit 

The increase of your credit utilization ratio is one perk to having multiple credit cards. A credit utilization ratio is simply the comparison of how much available credit someone has against how much they’re currently using. If you are adamant about knowing exactly what each credit card balance is and stay on top of your payments, your credit score may actually benefit from your credit cards. 

Debt Accumulation 

Since credit cards can come with high-interest rates, carrying a balance on just one card may cause you to fall into a pit of debt. If you’re at your credit limit on multiple credit cards, the amount of money you owe may increase by the hundreds every month. Increasing your credit utilization ratio isn’t worth piling unmanageable debt upon yourself. 


Investopedia—10 Reasons to Use Your Credit Card

Bankrate—How Long Should I Wait Between Credit Card Applications?

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