At a Glance

With so many cards that offer incredible rewards and benefits, it’s no surprise you’ll want to get as many as possible. But don’t go into your application blitz without a plan! Otherwise, you could end up damaging your credit.

In this article, you’ll learn:

How long should you wait before applying for a credit card?

The typical advice for those looking to expand their credit card collection is that a six-month waiting period will ensure your credit score isn’t affected by multiple applications. However, there are a few specific times when it’s best to wait as long as possible before applying for a new credit card:

1. While improving damaged credit

If your score is under 600 then it’s probably best you wait until your score improves. Many credit card issuers are wary of giving someone with fair or poor credit a new card. What’s worse, if you do get approved you might have a low credit limit, making it difficult to use the card at all.

Most credit card issuers will report to the credit bureaus around every 30 days, so if you’re focused on improving your score, you may see results faster than you think.

2. Before or during the mortgage application process

Buying a home is stressful enough, never mind worrying about whether or not you’ll be approved for a mortgage. Mortgage lenders have gotten pretty strict since the Great Recession and want to lend to those who appear to be responsible with their money and can pay off debts easily.

One of the most significant factors mortgage lenders will look at is your Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio, which shows them how much of your monthly income is typically spent paying off debt. Having a new credit card on your report, even if there is a $0 balance, can make lenders concerned, especially if you’re not a strong candidate for a mortgage already. Wait until you’ve closed on the home to apply for a new card.

Why you should wait between credit card applications?

The main reason you should wait between applying for multiple cards is your “Number of Hard Inquires.” This is a part of your credit report that tells lenders how often you’ve applied for new credit. While it might be unfair since each situation is different, the unfortunate truth is that lenders will see someone with multiple recent inquiries as someone who’s desperate for credit and is assumed to have trouble paying their bills. It becomes a slippery slope where the more times you apply for credit, the higher the chance you’ll be denied every time.

How long to wait before applying for a credit card?

1. Same day

If you’re strategic you may be able to apply for multiple credit cards on the same day. This is a sort of loophole that makes any hard inquiry done on the same day count as one instead of multiple. However, it’s not guaranteed you’ll get approved for every card as issuers have updated their algorithms to check for any pings on your report faster than they used to.

2. 90-day rule

If you’re interested in getting multiple cards from the same issuer (American Express, for example) then it’s best to wait 90 days before applying for the second card.

3. 6-12 months

Most issuers consider 6-12 months since your last application the “safe zone” for approvals, even though hard inquiries will stay on your report for several years. If you want to play it safe but still know you’ll need a card shortly, shoot for this time frame.

4. 12-month rule

The 12-month rule is specific to those looking for sign-up bonuses and wants to get as many bonuses in a short amount of time as possible. If you’re someone interested in credit card churning, this is probably your best timeframe for getting the maximum amount of rewards available.

5. Once a lifetime

Once-in-a-lifetime only relates to sign-up bonuses, meaning you can only get a sign-up bonus for a card once. For example, if you open a $0 annual fee Chase Unlimited card but then want to get a second one in the future you may find that you’re only eligible for the sign-up bonus that was tied to your original card, even if you didn’t hit the spending requirements to get it.

How often should you apply for a new credit card?

None of the timelines above matter if your financial situation can’t handle a new card, so the best rule of thumb is to only apply for a new credit card when it makes sense for your finances.

If you need to make a significant purchase soon (and can pay it off before your statement closes), then it might be a good idea to apply for a credit card that will have a generous sign-up bonus that’s spending requirements covered by the thing you need to buy. Alternatively, if you’re planning a big trip in the next few years, it would make sense to apply for a travel rewards credit card and start accumulating points you can use to get elite statuses or even cover the cost of your trip.

Learn more: How Often Can You Apply for a Credit Card?

When to avoid applying for a new credit card?

It’s usually best to avoid applying for a new credit card when you’ve got a significant life event that will require a big loan, like continuing your education or buying a house and needing a mortgage.

Also, don’t jump onto a new credit card if you’re already struggling to pay off debt unless it’s a 0% APR balance transfer card. Otherwise, you could end up further in debt from spending more than you can realistically pay back.

When to be cautious about timing for applying for a credit card?

1. While buying a house

Mortgage lenders are unlikely to approve someone for a mortgage if they’ve had multiple hard inquiries on their credit reports recently because they want to ensure you’ll have enough funds to make your mortgage payments on time without worrying about credit card bills, too.

2. While trying to rebuild your credit

Applying, and getting denied, for a credit card will only make your score lower, so wait until you’ve rebuilt your score to be at least 620 or higher.

3. When you have a low credit

Credit card issuers typically won’t offer high credit limits or approve applications for those with fair or poor credit. However, if you need a credit card, consider getting a secured card. Secured cards are credit cards that require a deposit from you that’s the equivalent of your credit line. Since you’ll be guaranteeing your application with cold, hard cash, secured cards are usually easier to get and can help you rebuild your credit, too.

4. Recent rejection of a card application

Having a recent “denied” note on your credit report will only make other card issuers wary of approving your application, creating a slippery slope that just ends up with more hard inquiries on your credit report without the new credit card to make up for it.

Rules and restrictions for credit card issuers:

1. American Express

American Express limits all cardholders to no more than five Amex-branded credit cards and no more than 10 Amex-branded charge cards. Also, cardholders must wait 90 days between applications for Amex-branded cards.

2. Bank of America

Bank of America limits BoA-branded credit card approvals to two cards within 30 days, three cards within 12 months, and four cards within 24 months. Bank of America has no restrictions for cards approved outside of the bank, though.

3. Capital One

Capital One cardholders are limited to one Capital One-branded card every six months and have a maximum of two branded personal credit cards open at any time. This rule doesn’t apply to co-branded cards or business credit cards.

4. Chase

Chase is famous for being the most stringent in its restrictions. Commonly known as the “5/24 rule,” Chase will deny most applications if you’ve applied for more than five credit cards in the past 24 months. What makes Chase unique, though, is that this rule is across the board and isn’t restricted to Chase-branded cards only.

5. Citi

Citi will restrict applicants from getting approved for a new card within an 8-day window of a new Citi-branded card opening. Cardholders are also restricted from applying for more than two Citi-branded cards every 65 days.

Citi is also one of the few issuers that restrict business credit card applications to one every 90 days.

6. Discover

Discover cardholders are restricted to having no more than two open Discover cards at any given time and can only apply for one branded credit card per year.

7. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo limits approvals for new credit cards to one every six months. According to their Terms of Service, Wells Fargo can also limit the total number of card accounts an applicant can open but doesn’t offer specific numbers.


Yes, but with today’s updated tech, it’s harder than ever to get multiple applications approved on the same day. Previously, credit card issuers were only able to see you had a hard inquiry once per day, no matter the number of applications you submitted. Now, however, their application algorithms are more robust and may flag you for review or deny your application if it sees you’ve already applied for another card at any bank, including theirs.

Only have as many cards are your finances can handle, and never spend more than you can pay back in a given month. If you are considering getting a new card check out Credello’s credit card picks.

Submitting multiple applications in a short period will likely flag your application for review or have it denied automatically. The more hard inquiries you have on your credit report, the more wary credit card issuers will be to offer you new lines of credit.

If you’re new to having credit or are looking for multiple rewards-earning cards then these are good times to apply for multiple cards. However, keep in mind that every issuer has its own rules for restricting applications, especially if you’re applying for multiple cards from the same bank, so plan wisely.

Every application creates a hard inquiry on your credit report. Your credit report holds your credit score, which is the sum of five or six factors (depending on the reporting bureau), each with its weight on your score.

Hard inquiries account for 10% of your total score, and the more inquiries you have, the more your score will go down. However, if you’re able to get approved for each card then your Total Available Credit will increase. Total Available Credit typically accounts for 30% of your score, so it cancels out whatever hit your score would’ve taken from a new inquiry.

The problem comes from getting denied because your credit limits won’t increase and negate the damage the new inquiry has done so make sure you’ve researched which cards you’re most likely to get approved for and plan wisely.

You want to get multiple rewards cards – Many people will get multiple travel rewards credit cards if they’re planning a big trip and want to accumulate rewards points as quickly as possible.

You want to take advantage of new offers – 0% APR balance transfer cards are an excellent reason to get another credit card, as they’ll help you consolidate your debt onto a single card that’s easier to pay off.

You want to increase your credit limits – If you’re not able to increase your limit on a card you already own, opening a new credit card is a great way to get more credit.

Follow the rules for each credit card issuer to determine the limit they have for multiple applications. Many issuers will only restrict multiple applications if you’re applying for cards with the same bank, while others, like Chase, will look at all applications you’ve submitted, no matter the issuer.