How Often To Apply For Credit Cards

How often to apply for credit cards depends on your specific circumstance, especially as it relates to your credit profile and borrowing needs.

Notably, a new credit card can help you increase your credit utilization ratio a.k.a. your available revolving credit, which can do wonders for your credit score. It can also come with a whole host of perks such as travel rewards, cash back on common expenses, or a welcome bonus in cash, points, airline miles, etc.

how often to apply foe credit cards

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Perhaps you need a new credit card to take advantage of better interest rates, transfer balances, or 0% introductory APR offers. For all these tantalizing reasons, applying for one credit card after another can be pretty tempting.

So, what’s the downsize of applying in rapid succession? Well, unless your credit score is already topnotch, there are some hurdles you will have to navigate or you simply run the risk of having your applications denied. So how often to apply for credit cards is not so cut and dry.

Credit Reporting Agencies’ Facts

Every time you apply for a new credit card, the creditor processes a hard inquiry which lowers your credit score - albeit slightly and temporarily.

So, the credit reporting agency records this as a “recent inquiry” if you get denied and “new credit” if you get approved. Either way, you now have a “precedent” that might impact your next application.

Unless you have a commanding credit score that makes you an evergreen credit risk for lenders, your best case scenario for opening more than one credit card account may be to apply for many within a short time span (same day or two). This might look as if you were “shopping” for best deals and you may get away with it. However, it most likely may not work if certain criteria are not stacked in your favor.

Beyond the “benefit of the doubt” shopping-around time span, a number of hard inquiries accumulating on your credit profile becomes detrimental to you. It will raise flags and alert lenders that you may be on the prowl to load up on debt. In the eyes of creditors, that immediately makes you a “bad risk”.

Credit reporting agencies also have a rating system that raises or diminishes your credit worthiness based on “credit age”. This actually makes up 10% of your credit score. In other words, new credit is not as creditworthy as old credit. Thus, newly acquired credit would put your credit profile at a disadvantage should you attempt to open another credit line right away.

How Long Should You Wait Between Applications?

There is no hard and fast rule to answer that question. A rule of thumb is 90 days if your credit profile is fairly well established, and six months if you are still in the process of improving your credit score. Having said that, each individual circumstance is different and has its own merit and handicap.

One thing that is the true determinant rests with the credit card issuers’ lending policies at the time of your application. The following outlines the rules of some leading lenders on how often you can apply for new credit. Keep in mind that these issuers can and often will modify these rules.

Bank of America (2/3/4 Rule)

  • Every two-month period, you can get up to two credit cards
  • Every 12-month period, you can get up to three credit cards
  • Every 24-month period, you can get up to four credit cards

It goes without saying that your credit worthiness should keep you eligible for reapplying during the targeted period.

Capital One

  • You are required to wait 6 months between cards and Capital One generally maxes you out at two credit cards.

Chase

  • The wait time between cards is only 30 days, but Chase goes not by the number of cards you can be approved for – which they don’t necessarily limit – but by the amount of credit they will grant you.

    This amount varies from customer to customer. Therefore, if you are a newer customer with limited credit worthiness, the amount of credit you are eligible for may be also be limited and in turn limit the number of cards you may initially be able to receive.

  • At the other end of the spectrum, Chase has a 5/24 rule which says that you will not be approved if you have already received a combined 5 cards from any issuers in the past 24 months. Chase does not apply this rule to business credit cards.

So, you may be able to get approved for 4 Chase cards in that 4/24 time frame, based on credit worthiness; but will likely be denied for a (5/24) fifth card.

Citi

  • This 8/65 Citi rule (a.k.a. 1/8 and 2/65) boils down to no approval for more than one credit card in eight days, and no approval for more than two credit cards in 65 days.

    Citi is another lender that limits not the number of cards but the amount of credit a customer can be approved for at a given time. Citi also limits business credit card approvals to one credit card approval every 3 months.

Wells Fargo

  • Similar to Chase and Citi, Wells Fargo limits the total amount of credit to be awarded rather than the number of cards a customer can be approved for. They also limit approvals to one card every 6 months.

Discover

  • The key Discover credit card restriction is basically one card approval per year, and no more than two Discover credit cards globally.

Other Issuers

  • Of course, the list of issuers can stretch endlessly. A safe way to guestimate how often to apply for credit cards is to heed the m.o. of mainstream lenders like American Express and others. They may change their policies often, but will typically fall under the general guidelines of one credit card approval every 90 days, all other credit risk factors pointing in the right direction.

How Often To Apply For Credit Cards Summary

Factors that impact how often to apply for credit cards include the FiCO score rating criterion of credit age, which amounts to 10% of your credit evaluation. New credit lowers your score slightly at least temporarily, and has worse impact on less established credit profiles than on strong FICO scores.

Multiple “hard pull” credit checks not only lower your credit score in the short term, they also flag lenders of the possibility of the applicant loading up a lot of debt – and becoming a “bad risk”.

Lenders’ restrictions also limit the number of credit card approvals either by the total amount of credit they are willing to give an applicant, or their policies on how many cards they’ll allow - and how often they will give approvals.

Applicants with strong credit profiles stand a better chance of getting a new application approved sent within 90 days or less. As a rule of thumb - but this can vary from case to case - waiting 6 months between applications for individuals with less established credit is advisable.

In the meantime, continuing to manage your credit effectively improves your chances for future approvals. By the same token, getting approved for a new credit card can help raise your available credit and boost your credit utilization ration, which represents 30% of your credit profile evaluation.

It is important to resist the temptation of giving another application a shot after your application has just been rejected. A possible accumulation of declined applications can only make matters worse.

Joining a free credit monitoring app such as Credit Karma can go a long way in assisting you on your credit improvement journey. They will help you with an overview of your credit picture updated daily, your mortgage loan planning, your auto loans and, of course your credit card needs.

Needless to say that in our socioeconomic system, beyond acquiring a few tips on how often to apply for credit cards, great credit in general can literally be one of, if not the utmost keys to your financial future.

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