Published in: Credit Cards | Dec. 14, 2018

How Long to Wait to Apply for Another Credit Card

By:  Lyle Daly

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Find out how long you should wait between credit card applications to maximize your chances at success.

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Image source: Getty Images

With all the benefits you can get through different credit cards, you may find yourself wanting a new card even though you just got one recently. Or, if you were denied on a credit card application, you’ll probably want to know how long to wait before applying for another credit card.

The answer will vary based on both your situation and the card you’re applying for, but we can figure out some guidelines to make it more likely that you’re approved.

1. Know how long should you wait to apply for another credit card

A general rule on how long you should wait between credit card applications is three to six months. That’s assuming you’re going to benefit from getting another card and that you know how to use credit responsibly. More credit cards means more to manage, so you need to stay on top of your balances and payment due dates.

When you apply for a credit card, the bank will look at how many recent hard credit inquiries you have from previous applications. Recent inquiries are one factor banks may use to deny your application, but what’s considered too recent will vary by the bank. For most, three to six months will be long enough that your previous application won’t count against you.

Multiple hard credit inquiries are seen as more of a risk than just one, so if you’ve applied for several cards, then you may want to wait longer.

Remember that there isn’t any set-in-stone rule on this, and you can get away with a shorter waiting period if you have excellent credit. For example, I once got a credit card, and then one month later, I went on an application spree where I applied for six different cash-back cards and was approved for five.

2. Understand how credit card applications affect your credit

A credit card application results in a hard inquiry on your credit file, but this doesn’t have a major effect on your credit score. Recent credit inquiries count for 10% of your FICO® Score, and the typical impact for one inquiry is a five- to ten-point drop. Additional inquiries can bring your score down as well.

These inquiries remain on your credit file for 24 months before falling off, but your score will usually recover within about six months, or sooner.

Six inquiries or more on your credit file is seen as a risk factor by lenders, because it correlates with a higher likelihood of declaring bankruptcy. If you want to play it safe, you should aim for fewer than six credit inquiries every 24 months.

3. Learn when to wait

There are times when it pays to avoid applying for a credit card.

  • You’re planning to apply for a loan or mortgage -- Even though credit card applications don’t decrease your credit score that much, every point counts when it comes to getting a loan or a mortgage. A small drop in your score could result in a higher interest rate. Play it safe by saving any credit card applications for later.
  • You’re working on your credit -- Whether you’re building your credit or rebuilding it, you don’t want to go one step forward, one step back. Limit your applications until you’ve gotten your score above 700.
  • You need to meet the spending minimum for a sign-up bonus -- Sign-up bonuses are the fastest way to earn cash back or points, but they also come with spending minimums to receive the bonus. If you haven’t met the minimum on a card’s bonus yet, make sure you reach it before applying for another card. It’s better to get one bonus than miss out on two.

Being smart with your credit card applications

There’s not exactly a secret formula for spacing out your credit card applications. You’ll need to decide how long to wait based on your credit score and any future loan plans you have. Three to six months will work well for most consumers, but you may decide on a different timeframe. 

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