Can You Apply for Multiple Credit Cards at Once?

Credit card applications can result in hard inquiries. And multiple hard inquiries may hurt your credit score

With so many credit cards out there, it might be hard to choose one. Plus, you might not know which cards give you the best chance of being approved. So why not apply for multiple credit cards just in case? 

Nothing’s stopping you from applying for multiple credit cards at once. But it’s worth keeping in mind that it could affect your credit score. Read on to learn more about how multiple credit card applications can affect your credit and what you can do to minimize the impact.

How Applying for Multiple Credit Cards Affects Your Credit Scores

Whether you’re trying to build or rebuild credit or earn rewards, it may be tempting to apply for multiple credit cards at once. 

After all, it’s common to get multiple rate quotes on other types of credit—including auto financing and mortgages—to find the best deal. And if you shop around for auto loan or mortgage rates over a short period of time, it might not affect your credit score much at all.

As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) explains, “When lenders offering the same type of loan request your credit score(s) within a time span ranging from 14 to 45 days, it will only count as a single inquiry, depending on the credit scoring model used.”

With credit cards, however, each application could result in a separate hard inquiry. Just one hard inquiry may temporarily lower your credit score—typically by a few points. But too many hard inquiries could have a more significant effect on your credit. Why? Because, as the CFPB explains, “If you apply for a lot of credit over a short period of time, it may appear to lenders that your economic circumstances have changed negatively.”

Keep in mind that there are multiple credit scores and scoring models. And scoring companies like FICO® and VantageScore® have different versions of their own scores. So you might see slight differences in your score depending on which model was used.

How Long Should You Wait Between Credit Card Applications?

There’s no rule for how long to wait between credit card applications. But waiting between applications can help protect your credit score from the negative effects of too many hard inquiries. However, don’t forget that other factors can still affect your credit score in the time between applications.

Keep in mind that being approved for a new line of credit can also have a positive impact on your credit. For example, having access to additional credit may help improve your credit utilization ratio, which measures how much credit you’re using. And according to the CFPB, keeping your credit utilization below about 30% could help you get and keep a good credit score since it can be a sign that you’re managing your credit responsibly and not overspending.

Improve Your Chances of Approval Before You Apply

Each credit card application can impact your credit—whether you’re approved or not. That’s why it makes sense to apply only for cards that you have a good chance of being approved for. Before applying for a credit card, here are some best practices to help you get approved

  • Start good credit habits early. Responsible behavior like keeping your balances low and avoiding late payments can help you build your credit. And credit card companies will likely look at your payment history when they consider your application.
  • Know your credit score and history. Lenders look at your credit information whenever you apply for a credit card. And a good credit score and positive credit report could mean you’re more likely to get approved.
  • Consider your debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio is a simple comparison of how much you owe and how much you earn. Understanding this balance can help you apply for a reasonable amount of credit so that you don’t end up with monthly payments you can’t afford.
  • Check whether you’re pre-approved. Pre-approval or pre-qualification can help you compare options and find the right fit. And with pre-approval from Capital One, you can find out whether you’re pre-approved for some of Capital One’s credit cards before you even apply. It’s quick and only requires some basic info—and it won’t hurt your credit score.
  • Understand that building credit takes time. Whether you’re rebuilding your credit or establishing credit for the first time, there are no shortcuts. Building credit takes time and responsible financial behavior.

Why It’s Important to Monitor Your Credit

Monitoring your credit is important when you’re applying for a new credit card. And it’s just as important after you have your new card too. It helps you stay on top of the factors that impact your credit score.

You can use CreditWise from Capital One to monitor your VantageScore 3.0 credit score and TransUnion® credit reports for free—even if you’re not a Capital One customer. And with the CreditWise Simulator, you can explore the potential impact of your financial decisions before you make them. 

You can also get free credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion. Just call 877-322-8228 or visit to learn how.

Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many scoring models used by lenders. It likely won’t be the same model your lender uses, but it is an accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Alerts are based on changes to your TransUnion and Experian® credit reports and information we find on the dark web. The tool is not guaranteed to detect all identity theft.

The CreditWise Simulator provides an estimate of your score change and does not guarantee how your score may change.

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