It’s best to apply for a credit card about once per year, assuming you need or want a card in the first place. And you shouldn’t apply for more than one card at the same time. If you apply more often, the repeated hard inquiries into your credit history will hurt your credit score. Creditors will also see you as desperate to borrow, making you a greater risk and less likely to be approved for a loan or line of credit.
Every time you apply for a credit card (with only a few exceptions), the issuer will do a hard pull of your credit, which temporarily lowers your credit score. Normally, this isn’t a big deal, because your score will bounce back after a few months of responsible credit use (e.g. paying on time, low utilization, etc.). But hard pulls become problematic when there’s a bunch at the same time. The damage is more significant and lasts longer – up to 12 months, according to TransUnion. And that can wind up costing you a lot of money if you need the best possible credit score in the near future, such as if you’re going to shop for a mortgage or car loan.
So careful planning is important, in terms of both which card you apply for and when you apply. If you’re rejected for a card, one option is to wait until your credit score rebounds before trying again. And you can track your credit score for free on WalletHub, the only site with free daily updates, to see when that happens. Alternatively, you could apply for a card with lower requirements.
For example, people with limited or damaged credit may want to consider a secured credit card. They require you to make a security deposit that acts as your credit line, and this collateral gives them the highest approval odds of all credit cards. As long as you can fund the deposit and make minimum payments, your chances are decent no matter what your credit score is.
If you’re not approved for a secured card, there are other ways to get your hands on credit. For instance, you can become an authorized user on someone else’s account or try to find a cosigner to apply with.