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How multiple credit card applications affect your approval

Applying for multiple cards in succession can hurt your approval odds.

Updated

Fact checked

When on the hunt for your next piece of plastic, it’s wise to narrow down your choices early and apply for your most desirable card first. If you’re putting out multiple applications, it may actually decrease your chances of getting a new card.

Does applying for a credit card hurt your credit score?

Each time you apply for a card, the credit provider dives into your credit report to see if you’d be a good candidate. This process is often called a “hard pull” on your credit report. A small portion of your credit score is affected by how recently you’ve applied for a credit card.

Each hard pull on your credit report will knock off a few points from your score. This dip is temporary, usually disappearing in about six months. However, multiple inquiries into your personal credit within a short period of time can quickly add up and become more detrimental to your credit score. Each subsequent credit provider will see this score and gain the impression that you’re a higher risk applicant, which would then likely cause them to reject your application.

Fortunately, the number of inquiries recorded on your credit report is only one of several factors considered.

Does my credit score still go down if my card application is accepted?

Yes. No matter if you’re rejected or accepted, your credit score will take the same hit. Again, this is temporary, lasting about six months. That means if you plan on applying for several types of loans, you might want to space out your applications.

How can I keep my credit file in good shape and improve my chances of credit card approval?

When it comes to improving your chances of getting a new credit card, a smart strategy is to keep your credit history clean and free from black marks.

Some of the steps you should follow to increase your chances of approval while maintaining a good credit history:

  • Make timely repayments. A sign that you’re trustworthy with a line of credit is — you guessed it — paying your bills on time.
  • Avoid payment defaults. Defaulting on loan payments looks terrible on your credit report and could also lead to severe legal repercussions.
  • Don’t overspend. Learning to curb your expenses will benefit both your credit file and finances in the long run.
  • Check your credit report regularly. Request your free yearly credit report and check that it is error-free. If you find something on your file that legitimately doesn’t belong there, contact the reporting agencies so they can investigate and rectify the matter.
  • Submit one application at a time. This will limit unnecessary hard pulls on your credit file. Choose the most suitable credit card, apply and wait for a response. If your application has been declined, consider applying for the next most suitable card. You’ll want to wait for a small period of time before applying again.
  • Make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. Applicants usually need to be at least 18 years old, a permanent US resident and have a good credit history. You also may be asked to provide information about your employment and finances, so make sure you have the necessary documents to simplify the application process.

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Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
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Get 3% cash back on groceries on up to $6,000 annually (then 1%) with no annual fee. This is a simple and effective rewards card. Rates & fees
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
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Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
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Earn a huge signup bonus worth $$1,000 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$0
An impressive 18 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $300. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
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Bottom line

There’s nothing wrong with owning multiple credit cards, though you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time in between each to keep your credit score healthy. Do your research with our credit card guide to learn how to carefully compare your options to be certain that the card you apply for is the right one.

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