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Credit Cards

How Long Should I Wait to Apply for Another Credit Card?

Updated Sep 21, 2021   |   6 mins read

When it comes to credit cards, applying is usually easy. With online forms, the application process is brief, and decisions are often made within minutes.

Consumers have varying motivating factors driving their decision to apply for a credit card. Some may be enticed by the rewards and bonuses, hoping to score bonus miles, cash back, or a free night’s stay at a favorite hotel. Others may need to make a purchase or pay off a bill.

If you want a credit card, but your application is denied, you might be asking yourself how long should I wait to apply for another credit card? Before jumping into that, you should know that applying for a credit card can have implications you might not have considered, such as an impact on your credit score.

How Does Opening a Credit Card Affect Your Credit Score?

Applying for a credit card can impact your credit score, but it depends on whether your issuers are making a “soft inquiry” or a “hard inquiry.”

Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score. They are typically made to determine general offers or rate quotes. For example, a credit card company may use a soft inquiry to determine the likelihood that you’re eligible for a specific promotion or credit card offer.

Similarly, an online refinancing lender may use a soft inquiry to provide a potential customer with a rate estimate. If the customer decides to proceed, the lender will then run a hard inquiry to finalize their lending decision.

Hard inquiries do impact your credit score. When you apply for a credit card – as well as mortgages and loans – a lender making a hard inquiry will officially pull your credit history to determine if you’re eligible, and for what types of rates, terms, and limits. Applying for a credit card will eventually result in a hard inquiry, so each time you submit an application for consideration, your credit score will be affected.

Typically, only one hard inquiry will not greatly affect your score. A hard inquiry could stay on your credit report for up to two years, but your score may recover in less than a year.

The rate at which your credit score improves after a hard inquiry depends on a variety of factors. If you have a history of poor credit, then even a single hard inquiry can have a negative impact or make it harder to rebound after inquiries. This is particularly true if you apply for multiple credit cards in a short period of time, which signals to creditors that you’re a higher-risk borrower.

If you are asking yourself how many credit cards can I apply for, then you should know that there is no definitive answer. If you want to maintain a good credit score, however, then you should refrain from applying all at once. Your credit score is based on a variety of factors and there is no hard and fast rule when applying for credit cards. However, many experts recommend waiting at least six months between credit card applications. If you have poor credit, you may want to wait even longer.

Knowing how long to wait between credit card applications can help you decreases the number of hard inquiries on your account, which will protect your credit score from unnecessary damage. But that’s not the only reason you should wait.

Here are a few other reasons you should wait to apply for another credit card.

4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Apply for Several Credit Cards at Once

You Don’t Plan on Using the Card

Expanding your available credit can have a positive impact on your credit score, but too many hard inquiries can quickly negate that benefit. If you don’t plan on using the credit card, then refrain from applying because the risk is not likely to outweigh the rewards.

You Need to Meet Spending Requirements on a Current Credit Card

If you signed up for a credit card because of promotional rewards and bonuses, it’s likely some of them are tied to spending requirements. For example, they may require you spend $1,000 in the first three months to get 50,000 bonus miles. If you’re trying to maximize points or grab that cash-back credit card deal, opening and using a new credit card can make your efforts futile.

You’re Trying to Get Your Spending Under Control

A new credit card in your wallet, especially one of the best rewards credit cards, may tempt you into unnecessary spending. “I have the available credit – why not purchase that new patio set?” you might think. If your goal is to improve your credit, stick to a budget, and take control of your finances, a new credit card may hinder your efforts.

You’ve Recently Been Denied

Being denied a credit card can be frustrating, and you may want to reapply. But think twice before filling out a new credit card application. If you’ve been denied, first determine why. Checking the adverse action notice that is sent out after an application is denied. Then check your credit report to make sure it’s accurate, and to gain more insight into existing blemishes that may be impacting your creditworthiness.

Once you know why you were denied, consider calling the companies’ credit card reconsideration line if you think the decision was made in error, or if you deserve the second chance. Credit card decisions are often based on algorithms that determine risk, so sometimes speaking with someone and politely explaining why you’re credit worthy can make a difference.

Final Thoughts on How Long to Wait Between Credit Card Applications

Applying for a credit card can increase your spending power. In some cases, it can even help you improve your credit. But too much of anything can be bad, and that’s particularly true when it comes to credit card applications. If you’re considering applying for a credit card, research your options and evaluate your needs. While you have the ability to apply for another card immediately your chances may be reduced and you may continue decreasing your credit score. 

The bottom line is, once you apply, spend time using your new card before you apply for another. Or if you’re denied, focus on repairing your credit history. Your credit score will thank you.