How Often Should You Apply for a Credit Card?

Find out how often you should apply for a new credit card, and understand how it might impact your credit scores

Opening a new credit card is a personal decision. When it comes to how often you should apply for a new card, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. So if you’re considering applying, you might have a lot of questions running through your mind. 

What’s the right number of credit cards for you? How often should you apply for a new card? And will applying for a new credit card affect your credit scores? Here are some things that might help you figure out what’s right for you.

How Often Should You Get a New Credit Card? 

The right number of credit cards might be different for everyone. And it all depends on your unique circumstances. But there is some general guidance to consider. 

First, keep in mind that credit card issuers might have their own limits on how often you can apply for new credit. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends only applying for the credit you need. Applying for credit can result in a hard inquiry. And FICO® says that a hard inquiry might cause your credit scores to drop—usually by a few points. That’s because credit-scoring models generally look at how recently—and how often—you’ve applied for credit, according to the CFPB.

So before you apply for a new credit card, it’s a good idea to pause and think everything through. If you can, talking to a qualified financial professional might be a good idea, too. 

Does Opening a New Credit Card Affect Your Credit Score? 

If you’re thinking about applying for a credit card, you might also be wondering: How will a credit card application affect my credit score? 

It’s important to know that you have multiple credit scores. And it’s hard to predict exactly how your scores might be affected by any financial decision, including applying for a new credit card. 

Remember, the CFPB says you should only apply for the credit you need. A credit card application typically triggers a hard inquiry, where a lender requests to review your credit file. The CFPB says that a single hard inquiry typically has little impact on your credit scores. According to FICO, that impact is typically less than five points. But multiple hard inquiries in a short period of time could negatively impact your credit scores. 

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.” So keep that in mind if you’re considering applying for multiple credit cards at once. 

And if you’re considering applying for a new credit card but you’re unsure whether you’ll be approved, some lenders offer a pre-approval option that you can use before you apply. That includes Capital One. 

You can see whether you’re pre-approved for some Capital One cards with no impact to your credit score before you apply. And it only takes a few minutes.

Considerations Before Applying for a New Credit Card

Besides pre-approval, here are some things you might consider doing if you’re thinking about applying for a credit card: 

Think About Timing 

It’s important to think about when to apply for a credit card.

For example, the CFPB says you might want to avoid applying for a credit card during or right before applying for a mortgage in order to avoid multiple hard inquiries in a short period of time. 

When you apply for any kind of loan, the lender will likely look at your credit reports and scores as part of determining whether to approve your application and what interest rate to offer you. 

Each credit card application might result in a separate hard inquiry. And remember, hard inquiries can impact your credit scores. So you might not want that potential impact on your credit scores while you’re applying for another loan.

On the other hand, if you’re struggling to manage high-interest credit card debt, you might consider whether it’s the right time to consolidate your credit card debt. One way to consolidate credit card debt is with a balance transfer to a brand-new card. That way, you might be able to combine all your credit card payments into one. 

Some credit cards even offer low or 0% introductory rates to start, according to the CFPB. Just keep in mind that the introductory rate only lasts for a limited time. And depending on the issuer, you might have to pay a balance transfer fee. 

The CFPB says consolidation is one way to simplify or lower your debt payments. But it’s important to know that it won’t erase your debt. And working with a credit counselor can help you figure out the best way to manage your debt. 

Compare Cards 

The CFPB recommends comparing cards before you apply so you can find the right one for you. You might consider researching things like APR, fees, rewards and more.  

Capital One has a credit card comparison tool that helps you search by credit requirements, rewards type and other factors to help find the right credit card for you.

Monitor Your Credit

It’s a good idea to know where your credit stands, whether you’re thinking about applying for a new card or not. One way to monitor your credit is with CreditWise from Capital One

CreditWise gives you free access to your TransUnion® credit report and weekly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score anytime—without hurting your score. CreditWise is free and available to everyone—even if you don’t have a Capital One account. 

You can also get free copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. Call 877-322-8228 or visit to learn more.

These are just some of the things to think about when you’re considering applying for a new credit card. Remember that everyone’s financial situation is different. And a qualified financial professional can help you figure out whether it’s the right time for you to apply for a new credit card. 

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 credit scoring models. It may not be the same model your lender uses, but it can be one accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.

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