You should wait six months to one year between credit card applications in most cases, regardless of whether your last application was approved or denied. Most people’s credit scores will bounce back from a credit card application in about six months. The same rule applies if you’re trying to reapply for the same credit card you were denied for (though you should make sure you’ve addressed the reasons stated in your rejection letter before you apply again).
When your credit card application is denied, it doesn’t show up on your credit report. But the card issuer’s hard inquiry, or credit check, does – and too many of them in a short period of time can hurt your credit score and make you look desperate for credit. One hard inquiry won’t hurt your credit score too much – scores generally take a hit of a few points for each inquiry. But that effect can be compounded by multiple hard pulls in a short period of time. Hard inquiries can stay on your credit report for up to two years, and they can affect your credit score for one year.
While denials don’t affect your credit score beyond the initial credit check, you might imagine that lots of recent hard inquiries without corresponding credit accounts could look bad to a card issuer. In fact, a card issuer can deny your application because of too many recent hard inquiries. Issuers aren’t just being paranoid, either. Statistics show that people with six or more hard inquiries on their credit report can be up to eight times more likely to file for bankruptcy than people with no inquiries. So lots of inquiries potentially signal lots of risk for the card issuer.
Overall, it’s a good rule of thumb to wait at least six months between credit card applications. You’ll minimize credit score damage by waiting, which will increase your future approval odds. That said, there is an exception to the six-month rule. If you’re trying to build credit and your most recent credit card application has been denied, you don’t need to let six months pass before you apply for a secured credit card. Secured cards build credit just like unsecured credit cards, but secured cards tend to be much easier to get approved for. The sooner you get one and start using it responsibly, the better for your credit.