3 Times It Pays to Pass Up a Great Credit Card Offer

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Tempting as some credit card offers may be, here's when to say no.

There's a reason many of us have more than one credit card. Not only can multiple cards lead to a higher total spending limit, but they can also open the door to more perks. In fact, even if you already have a bunch of credit cards that give you plenty of flexibility, you may still be tempted to apply for a new one.

For example, if you see a credit card with a generous sign-up bonus advertised, that alone could motivate you to apply. Similarly, you may be tempted to apply for a card that offers great travel rewards, including bonus miles for booking flights.

But while it's always nice to enjoy extra perks, sometimes, a little self control can go a long way. Here are three scenarios where it pays to pass up a credit card offer -- even if it's an awesome deal.

1. You just applied for another card

Applying for a single credit card shouldn't hurt your credit score too badly. But applying for multiple new cards within a short period of time could drag your score downward. Each time you submit an application and your lender pulls your credit history, it counts as a hard inquiry. A single hard inquiry will generally lower your score by five to 10 points, but too many back-to-back inquiries could cause more damage. As such, if you just applied for one card, you may want to hold off on opening another.

2. You're trying to get a mortgage

Having credit cards shouldn't disqualify you from getting a mortgage. But when you're applying to borrow a large sum of money, it's best to avoid even a small hit to your credit score. Say you have excellent credit, but only just. If your credit score gets knocked down seven or eight points by a credit card application, that could result in a higher interest rate on your mortgage. And you'll be paying more every month for the next 15 to 30 years. You're better off waiting until after you've closed on a mortgage to get a new credit card.

3. You're already in debt and can't trust yourself

It's one thing to have a bunch of credit cards that you're managing well. But if you've managed to rack up debt on all those cards, then the last thing you need is the temptation to spend even more. In that situation, you may want to hold off on applying for a new credit card until you get your credit card debt under control. Remember, too, that some of the most appealing credit card offers come in the form of sign-up bonuses. These require you to spend a certain amount of money within a short time frame to score extra cash or points. And when you're supposed to be paying off debt, spending more will make it harder to meet that goal.

Some credit card offers can be really enticing. But it's important to know when to say no. If the above circumstances apply to you, it could really pay to sit tight -- even if it takes every ounce of willpower you've got.

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