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How long should I wait between credit card applications?

The length of time between credit card applications can make or break your chances of being approved. In this article, we talk about how long you should wait before you apply for new lines of credit and why that's important.

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The length of time between credit card applications can make or break your chances of being approved. Why is waiting important? How long should you wait? In this article, we talk about why it’s a good idea to space out your applications for a new credit card and explain how long you should wait before you apply for new lines of credit.

Why should you wait between credit card applications? 

When you apply for a credit card, the lender checks your credit history to determine whether or not they should extend a line of credit to you. Like all creditors, credit card issuers assume risk when they offer you a line of credit. Naturally, they want to make sure that you can repay your debts.

To assess your creditworthiness, credit card companies will check your credit history before approving your application. The higher your credit score, the less of a risk you are, and the more likely your application will be approved. Additionally, a higher credit score means you’ll probably get better rates on your lines of credit, such as a higher credit limit and lower interest rates. 

There are several factors that affect your credit score, and one of those is hard inquiries“Hard inquiry” refers to when a financial institution, like a lender or credit card issuer, checks your credit when making a lending decision.

Hard inquiries don’t reduce your score much–about 10 points or so–but if you have multiple hard inquiries against your account during a short period, they can add up and negatively affect your credit score. 

Applying for several credit cards in a short period of time results in several hard inquiries, which can then bring your score down. It also raises a red flag because, in the eyes of a credit card issuer, this suggests that you are struggling financially or that you will be struggling financially in the future. Multiple lines of credit mean a greater risk of you not being able to repay debts on time.

Did you know?

You can use your international credit history to apply for a U.S. credit card without a Social Security Number

Credit history used to stop at the border—until now. Your existing international credit history could help you get credit in the United States. No SSN is required to start your credit history today.

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How long should you wait between credit card applications? 

You should generally wait six months to a year before applying for a new credit card. Over time, hard inquiries don’t have as much impact on your credit score. Typically, within six months to a year, those inquiries don’t have as much weight. Therefore, your credit score can go up, so long as you’re keeping your card balance low and are making your payments on time.

There is an exception to the six months to one year rule of thumb, however. If your credit score is very good, you may be able to apply for new credit cards more frequently without a problem. If your credit history reflects that you are a responsible borrower, that means you’re exactly the type of customer that credit card issuers are looking for.

Other times you might want to put off applying for a new credit card

There are other scenarios where you should put off applying for a new credit card. If any of the following apply to you, submitting an application for a new card probably isn’t in your best interest:

  • You’re applying for a loan. If you’re thinking about applying for a loan or you have recently applied for a loan, consider waiting before applying for a new credit card. Credit card applications only account for 10% of your credit score and don’t have that much of an impact on your credit. However, when you’re trying to get approved for a loan at the best rates possible, every point counts.

  • You’re trying to rebuild your credit score. Applying for a new line of credit involves hard inquiries, which can bring down your credit score.

  • You’ve recently been rejected. Any recent rejected credit card application will have brought down your score, and so will any new ones that you submit. As such, your chances of being approved for additional applications will more than likely be rejected. 

How to improve your credit

You can work on building your credit score while you’re waiting to submit applications for new credit cards. Doing so can increase your chances of future applications, possibly, with larger credit limits and lower interest rates.

While waiting to submit new credit card applications, you can do the following to bring up your credit score: 

  • Make your payments on time. Your payment history has the biggest impact on your credit score, so make sure you’re paying all your debts and bills on time.

  • Keep your balances low. To keep your credit in good standing, keep your balances on your existing credit card accounts as low as possible. The amount of credit you spend vs. the amount of credit available to you accounts for 30% of your credit score.

  • Don’t apply for loans. Your credit history receives a hard inquiry whenever you apply for a loan. So, if you’re trying to build your credit score, not only should you avoid applying for credit cards, but you should also avoid applying for loans.

The takeaway

Learn how to build and improve your credit score by checking out Nova Credit’s resource library here.

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