At a Glance

How often you can apply for a credit card? This question comes up more than you would think. It is possible to apply for a credit card as often as you want, but that doesn’t mean it’s advisable. You might want to hold back from filling out too many credit card applications in quick succession for a few reasons. After all, each application you submit counts as a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can lower your credit score. Additionally, if you’re denied for multiple cards within a short timeframe, that can also hurt your credit score. So don’t rush into applying for every credit card offer that comes your way. Take the time to research the ones that fit your needs and eligibility, and space out your applications. Your wallet (and your credit score) will thank you.

In this article, you’ll learn:


1.27 billion

is the total number of credit cards in use in the U.S.

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How often should you get a credit card?

There isn’t a specific recommended frequency for applying for credit cards. The decision to apply for a new credit card should be based on your financial needs, goals, and responsible credit management.

Here are some factors to consider when determining how often to apply for a credit card:

  • Credit score: Each time you apply for a credit card, it typically results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score. If you have recently applied for credit or have multiple recent inquiries, it may be wise to wait before applying for another card.
  • Financial stability: Applying for a new credit card means taking on additional credit obligations. Consider your current financial situation and whether you can manage the new card responsibly. This includes making timely payments, avoiding high balances, and not accumulating excessive debt.
  • Rewards and benefits: If you are looking to take advantage of a specific credit card’s rewards program, such as cashback, travel miles, or other perks, it might make sense to apply for a new card. However, ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential fees or interest charges.
  • Credit utilization: Applying for a new credit card can increase your overall available credit, which can help lower your credit utilization ratio if you maintain low balances. This can positively impact your credit score. However, be cautious not to accumulate too much credit you cannot manage responsibly.
  • Credit history: Your length of credit history is an essential factor in determining your creditworthiness. Opening and closing credit card accounts frequently can negatively impact the average age of your credit accounts. If you have a well-established credit history, it may be less critical to apply for new cards frequently.

Why is it good to wait between credit card applications?

Waiting between credit card applications can be beneficial for several reasons:

  • Credit score impact: When you apply for a new credit card, the issuer typically performs a hard inquiry on your credit report. Hard inquiries can temporarily negatively impact your credit score, typically lasting for about two years. Applying for multiple credit cards within a short period can raise concerns about your creditworthiness and make you appear financially stressed. By spacing out your applications, you minimize the potential negative impact on your credit score.
  • Responsible credit management: Applying for too many credit cards within a short period can raise red flags for lenders. It may give the impression that you are seeking excessive credit or are in financial distress. Lenders prefer borrowers who demonstrate responsible credit management and are not actively seeking credit at every opportunity.
  • Debt management: Opening multiple credit card accounts simultaneously increases the temptation to accumulate debt. Each credit card comes with a credit limit, and having too many can lead to a higher overall credit limit. This can make it easier to overspend and potentially increase your debt burden. By waiting between credit card applications, you give yourself time to assess your financial situation, pay off existing debts, and ensure you can manage any new credit responsibly.
  • Strategic planning: Taking time between credit card applications allows you to evaluate and choose the credit cards that align with your financial goals and lifestyle. You can research different card options and compare rewards programs, annual fees, interest rates, and other features to select the cards that provide the most value. Applying for credit cards strategically can help you maximize rewards, minimize costs, and effectively manage your credit portfolio.

Related: How Long to Wait Between Credit Card Applications

How many credit cards can you apply for at the same time?

The number of credit cards you can apply for simultaneously depends on various factors, including your credit history, credit score, and the lending policies of the credit card issuers. There is no set limit on the number of credit cards you can apply for simultaneously, but it’s important to exercise caution.

If you are going to apply for a new credit card, consider one of the best credit cards handpicked by Credello experts. But when looking at these cards consider factors like your financial goals and credit needs.

Credit card issuer restrictions to be aware of

When considering applying for multiple credit cards, it’s essential to be mindful of certain restrictions that credit card issuers may have. These restrictions can vary between issuers and may impact your ability to apply for and hold multiple credit cards. Here are some common restrictions to be mindful of:

  • Credit limit allocation: Some credit card issuers have limits on the total credit limit they will extend to an individual. If you already have credit cards with the same issuer, they may allocate a portion of your available credit to your new card rather than providing an entirely new credit limit. This can impact the credit limit you receive on each card.
  • Application frequency: Some credit card issuers may restrict how frequently you can apply for their credit cards. They may specify a waiting period between applications or limit the number of cards you can apply for within a specific timeframe. This helps prevent individuals from applying for multiple cards too quickly.
  • Maximum number of cards: Certain credit card issuers limit the number of cards an individual can have with them. For example, they may restrict you from simultaneously holding more than a certain number of credit cards. This restriction aims to manage risk and prevent excessive credit exposure.
  • Financial requirements: Credit card issuers may have specific income or creditworthiness requirements for their cards. They may require a minimum income or credit score threshold to qualify for particular cards. Meeting these requirements is essential to be considered for the cards you’re interested in.
  • Card-specific restrictions: Some credit cards have their unique restrictions. For instance, certain rewards credit cards may only allow you to hold one card within their specific rewards program. This means you may be unable to apply for multiple cards with the same rewards currency.

Always review the terms and conditions and the specific policies of the credit card issuers you are interested in to understand any restrictions they may have. Researching and being aware of these restrictions can help you plan your credit card applications more effectively and maximize your chances of approval.

When to be cautious before applying for a card

It’s important to exercise caution and consider certain factors before applying for a credit card. Here are some situations in which you should be cautious before submitting a credit card application:

  • Poor credit score: If you have a low credit score, it’s wise to be cautious when applying for a credit card. Low credit scores may result in higher interest rates, lower credit limits, or even rejection of your application. Before applying, focus on improving your credit score by paying bills on time, reducing outstanding debts, and addressing credit report errors.
  • Recent credit applications: Applying for multiple credit cards within a short period can raise concerns about your creditworthiness and may harm your credit score. Lenders may perceive it as a sign of financial distress or overextension. It’s generally advisable to space out your credit card applications to minimize the potential negative impact on your credit profile.
  • High debt levels: If you already have substantial debt obligations, taking on more credit may exacerbate your financial situation. Applying for a credit card with high debt levels can increase financial strain and difficulty managing repayments. Focus on paying down existing debts and improving your overall financial stability before considering additional credit.
  • Unstable income: A credit card requires regular repayment, and if you have an inconsistent or unreliable income, it can be challenging to meet those obligations. Before applying for a credit card, ensure a stable and sufficient income to support timely payments. Otherwise, you may risk accumulating debt or missing payments, negatively impacting your credit score.
  • High annual fees or interest rates: Some credit cards have high annual fees or interest rates. Before applying, carefully evaluate whether the benefits and rewards offered by the card justify the associated costs. If you don’t anticipate using the card’s features or benefits frequently, it may not be worth paying high fees or interest charges.
  • Lack of research: It’s important to research and compare different credit card options before applying. Each card has its terms, benefits, fees, and conditions. Without proper research, you may end up with a card that doesn’t align with your needs or offers less favorable terms than other options.

By being cautious in these situations, you can make more informed decisions about when to apply for a credit card, reduce the risk of financial difficulties, and ensure that the card you choose suits your financial circumstances and goals.


The time it takes for a credit card application to be reviewed can vary depending on the issuer and several other factors. Generally, the review process can take a few minutes to a few weeks. Here are some factors that can influence the duration of the review process:

  • Online vs. in-person applications: If you apply for a credit card online, the review process is typically faster than applying in person or by mail. Online applications often involve automated systems that can quickly assess your information and provide an instant decision. In-person or mail applications may take longer as they require manual processing.
  • Credit card issuer’s process: Each credit card issuer has internal application review procedures. Some issuers may have streamlined processes and can provide instant decisions, while others may require additional manual review and verification time.
  • Information accuracy and completeness: The accuracy and completeness of the information provided in your application can impact the review process. If there are discrepancies or missing details, the issuer may need to contact you for clarification or request additional documentation, which can prolong the review time.
  • Credit evaluation: Credit card issuers assess your creditworthiness by reviewing your credit history, credit score, income, and other relevant factors. The depth of the credit evaluation can impact the review time. The process may take longer if your credit requires a more thorough examination or if the issuer needs to obtain credit reports from multiple bureaus.
  • Application volume: The volume of credit card applications the issuer receives can affect the review time. During peak application periods or promotional offers, the issuer may experience higher application volumes, leading to potential delays in processing and review.
  • Communication preferences: Some credit card issuers may provide instant decisions online or over the phone, while others may send notifications by mail or email. The time it takes to receive the decision may also depend on the issuer’s preferred communication method.

While some credit card applications may provide instant decisions, others may require more time for review and processing. If you haven’t received a decision within a reasonable timeframe, it’s a good idea to reach out to the credit card issuer’s customer service to inquire about the status of your application.

The best way to apply for a credit card depends on your preferences and circumstances. Here are some common methods for applying for a credit card and their respective advantages:

  • Online applications: Applying for a credit card online is a convenient and efficient method. Most credit card issuers have user-friendly websites where you can explore different card options, compare features, and submit an application. Online applications often provide instant decisions, allowing you to receive a response quickly. You can also upload any required documents digitally, simplifying the process.
  • In-person applications: Some individuals prefer applying for a credit card in person, especially if they have an existing relationship with a particular bank or credit union. Visiting a local branch allows you to speak with a representative who can guide you through the application process, answer your questions, and provide personalized advice based on your financial situation. In-person applications suit individuals who prefer a more personal touch or have complex financial needs.
  • Mail-in applications: While less common, some credit card issuers still accept mail-in applications. This method involves completing a paper application form and sending it via mail. It may be suitable if you prefer a physical application or have limited internet access. However, remember that mail-in applications typically have longer processing times than online or in-person applications.

When applying for a credit card, consider the following tips to streamline the process and increase your chances of approval:

  • Review your credit report: Before applying, check your credit report to ensure its accuracy and address any errors or discrepancies. A clean and accurate credit report can improve your chances of approval.
  • Research card options: Take the time to research and compare different credit card options. Consider rewards programs, interest rates, annual fees, and additional benefits to find a card that aligns with your financial needs and goals.
  • Check eligibility criteria: Review the eligibility requirements for your interest in the credit card. Before applying, ensure you meet the minimum income, credit score, and other criteria. Applying for cards that match your profile well can increase your likelihood of approval.
  • Prepare necessary documents: Gather supporting documents, such as proof of income or identification, before starting the application process. This can help you complete the application smoothly and avoid delays.
  • Complete the application accurately: Take your time to provide accurate and complete information in the application form. Double-check all the details before submitting to avoid errors or potential processing issues.
  • Understand terms and conditions: Read the terms and conditions of the credit card carefully. Pay attention to interest rates, fees, rewards structures, and other important details. Understanding the card’s terms and conditions ensures you make an informed decision and manage your card effectively.

Remember to apply for a credit card responsibly, considering your financial situation, needs, and ability to manage credit effectively.

If you are denied a credit card, here are some steps you can take:

  • Understand the reason for denial: The credit card issuer is required to provide you with a reason for the denial. This information can help you understand why your application was rejected. Common causes include a low credit score, insufficient income, limited credit history, or negative marks on your credit report.
  • Review your credit report: Obtain a copy of your credit report from one or more credit bureaus and review it for any inaccuracies or negative information that may have contributed to the denial. If you find errors, you can dispute them with the credit bureau(s) to have them corrected.
  • Improve your credit: If your credit score or credit history was a factor in the denial, take steps to improve them. This includes making timely payments, reducing outstanding debts, and keeping your credit utilization ratio low. Over time, responsible credit behavior can help raise your credit score and enhance your creditworthiness.
  • Consider secured credit cards: If you have a limited credit history or poor credit, you may consider applying for a secured credit card. Secured credit cards require a security deposit, which serves as collateral and minimizes the issuer’s risk. They can help you build or rebuild your credit when used responsibly.
  • Avoid multiple applications: While it can be tempting to apply for multiple credit cards after being denied, it’s generally advisable to avoid doing so. Each credit card application results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score. Multiple applications within a short period can raise concerns for lenders and potentially worsen your credit situation.
  • Explore other options: You can explore alternative options if you cannot secure a traditional unsecured credit card. For example, you may consider becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card to build your credit history. Alternatively, you can explore credit-builder loans or cards specifically designed for individuals with limited or poor credit.
  • Reapply after improvements: Once you’ve taken steps to address the reasons for the denial and improve your creditworthiness, you can consider reapplying for a credit card. However, it’s important to wait until you have made significant improvements and have a higher likelihood of approval. Applying too soon may result in another denial and further impact your credit score.

Remember to regularly monitor your credit and take proactive steps to improve your creditworthiness. It may take time, but responsible credit management can enhance your credit profile and increase your chances of future credit card approvals.

Closing a credit card before applying for another can have positive and negative implications. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to close a credit card before applying for a new one:

Positive implications:

  • Simplified finances: Closing a credit card can reduce the number of accounts you have to manage, making your finances more streamlined. If you find it challenging to keep track of multiple cards, closing one may help you better organize your credit accounts.

Negative implications:

  • Credit history: Closing a credit card shortens the length of your credit history, which is an important factor in determining your credit score. If the card you plan to close is one of your oldest accounts, it may negatively impact the average age of your credit accounts and potentially lower your credit score.
  • Credit mix: Credit scoring models consider the types of credit you have, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages, in assessing your creditworthiness. Closing a credit card may reduce the diversity of your credit mix, which could negatively impact your credit score. However, the effect of this factor is generally less significant than others, such as payment history and credit utilization.
  • Account closure impact: Closing a credit card account may lead to losing any associated rewards, benefits, or perks. If you have accumulated rewards points or enjoy certain benefits with the card, consider whether these factors outweigh the potential negative impacts of keeping the card open.

The decision to close a credit card before applying for another depends on your circumstances and goals. If the card you plan to close has high fees, you no longer use it, or it doesn’t provide significant benefits, closing it may be a reasonable choice. However, if the card has a long credit history, a positive payment record, or contributes to your credit mix, it may be beneficial to keep it open.

Before closing a credit card, consider the potential impact on your credit score, credit history, and overall credit profile. If you decide to close the card, ensure you continue using your remaining credit cards responsibly to maintain a healthy credit profile.