How Many Credit Cards Should I Apply for at One Time?
If you are in the market for a new credit card, you will want to apply for the right card and not make any decisions that could damage your credit score.
Since you do not want to lower your credit score, the ideal number of credit cards to apply for is one. Every time you apply for a credit card, the card issuer does a “hard pull,” or inquiry, on your credit report. Each time a hard pull takes place, your credit score will be impacted and the inquiries can stay on your report for up to two years.
Thus, instead of blindly applying for every card you see, it is better to do research, find the best card for your personal needs and apply only for that one card.
Step 1: Check your Score
If you do not already know your credit score, the time that you’re shopping for a credit card is a good opportunity to check your full credit report. Every year, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, which you can request through annualcreditreport.com.
As you review your report, make sure all of the information is accurate and that you recognize each account. If you do notice incorrect information, you can write to the credit bureau and request they delete the information. They will launch an investigation, and if they determine the information is incorrect, they will remove it from your report, generally within 60 days.
Step 2: Research Credit Cards
Depending on your credit score, you will want to research cards for which you are likely to be approved. There are several different tiers:
- Cards for those with excellent credit (750 or above)
- Cards for those with good credit (700 to 749)
- Cards for those with fair credit (640 to 699)
- Cards for those with bad credit (639 or below)
Those with excellent credit can get cards with low APRs and great rewards. There are a number of good products for those with bad credit as well, though, and these cards can help those who are struggling rebuild their credit.
Step 3: Apply for the Right Card
Once you have narrowed the search to a card within your reach, find a card that will best reward the type of spending you regularly do. If you rarely travel, it does not make sense to apply for an airlines reward card; however, if you do often leave town for business or pleasure, these cards can help you earn miles toward free flights and hotel stays. If you are more of a homebody, you may consider a card that rewards you for dining or groceries, such as the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card. If you just want an easy way to earn cash for using your credit card, look into a cash back card.
When you have determined the best card for you, visit the credit issuer’s website and apply. You will be asked for some basic questions and to verify your identity. Most card issuers can determine your eligibility immediately, so you could have a new card number in minutes.
What if I’m denied a card?
If you apply for a credit card geared toward someone with your credit score, and the card issuer declines your application, you may want to contact the card company to see if there was a mistake or if they need additional information. If they still cannot grant you credit, it is a good idea to find a card one tier lower than the one for which you applied. Two inquiries in a short period of time should not impact your credit score too much, but you want to avoid it if at all possible.