3 Signs It's the Wrong Time to Apply for a Credit Card

by Christy Bieber | Published on Aug. 26, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
A person looks concerned at their financial documents and laptop.

Image source: Getty Images

Don't end up regretting signing up for a new card.

Getting a new credit card can sometimes pay off.

You may be able to qualify for a signup bonus exclusive to new cardmembers, which gives you free miles, points, or cash back. You can also take advantage of perks the card offers, as well as benefit from their rewards program if they offer one.

But there are some situations where you generally should avoid trying to apply for a new credit card. In particular, if any of these three things applies to you, you should probably wait a while before you submit an application for new credit.

1. You'll be taking out a big loan soon

When you apply for a new credit card, it can temporarily reduce your credit score.

That's because an inquiry will show up on your credit report when the card issuer performs a hard credit check. And too many inquiries can cause concern for lenders about overborrowing. A new card also reduces the total average age of your credit history, and a longer credit age translates to a higher score.

These hits to your credit are generally temporary and no big deal unless you're applying for a big loan soon, which can include:

Having a lower score when you apply for these big loans means you could end up paying thousands of extra dollars in loan interest rates over the life of the loan.

It's not worth any benefits the credit card provides to make qualifying for a larger loan more expensive. Just wait until you've completed your borrowing for the big loan and then get the card you were interested in.

2. Your credit score isn't very good

If your credit isn't very good, you may not be able to qualify for many credit cards. You'll end up with an inquiry on your credit report -- which, again, can reduce your score further -- and you won't get a new card to show for it.

In most cases, you're better off waiting until you can improve your credit score and start applying for some of the best rewards credit cards. The exception, though, is if you don't have a card already.

In this case, you may want to apply for one of the following:

If you find a card where you stand a strong chance of approval, you can apply, hopefully get the card, and start making on-time payments to improve your credit score.

3. You just applied for a new credit card recently

If you've already applied for one or more new credit cards recently, it may also be worth waiting to get a new card.

Applying for multiple new credit cards at one time exacerbates the damage to your credit score. You'll get several hard inquiries, which will drop your score. And lenders may start to get worried you're going on a spending spree, making a denial more likely.

Applying for multiple new credit cards in a short span of time may also increase the chances you'll be denied approval. That's because some card companies have strict limits on the number of cards you can open within a period of time. For example, Chase's 5/24 rule means you can't get a Chase card if you've opened five or more credit cards within the last 24 months.

If any of these three signs apply to you, then you may want to stick with the cards you already have in your wallet and wait a little while before trying to get approved for a new one.

Top credit card wipes out interest until 2024

If you have credit card debt, transferring it to this top balance transfer card secures you a 0% intro APR for up to 21 months! Plus, you'll pay no annual fee. Those are just a few reasons why our experts rate this card as a top pick to help get control of your debt. Read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

About the Author