Does opening a credit card hurt your credit?

Opening a new credit card can affect your credit. But using your card responsibly could help your credit scores.

When you look for a new credit card, it’s important to find a card that fits your spending habits and financial goals. Are you looking for a card with a low interest rate—or maybe one with a travel rewards program? A new credit card could help you take advantage of introductory offers. But you might wonder whether opening a new credit card could hurt your credit scores. 

When you open a new credit card, you could see a brief dip in your credit scores. But if you use your card responsibly, it could give you the opportunity to boost your credit in the long run. Here’s what you need to consider before opening a new credit card—and some of the benefits you may experience with your new card.

Will opening a new credit card hurt my credit scores?

Applying for a new credit card can trigger a hard inquiry, which involves a lender looking at your credit reports. According to credit-scoring company FICO®, hard inquiries can cause a slight drop in your credit scores

Keep in mind: Hard inquiries usually stay on your credit reports for two years. However, they may not have an effect on your scores for that long. For example, credit-scoring companies may only consider hard inquiries for up to 12 months. But experts don’t advise opening several new credit accounts in a short period of time. 

The age of your credit accounts is also typically a factor in calculating your credit scores. Having a longer credit history can be helpful. But when you open a new credit card, it could bring the average age of your credit accounts down and affect your credit scores. 

You may also see benefits from two other credit-scoring factors: credit utilization and credit mix.

Benefits of opening a new credit card

Your new credit card may provide you with many benefits—and not just cash back or travel miles.  

When you open a new credit card, your available credit increases. And this could improve your credit utilization ratio. This ratio refers to how much total available credit you’re using and it’s a factor in calculating your credit scores. Experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30%. If you avoid charging large purchases and keep your balance low, you could maintain a low credit utilization ratio.   

There are other ways opening a new credit card could potentially help your credit scores. Your new card could improve your credit mix—or the different types of credit accounts you have. Car loans, mortgages and credit cards are some of the most common kinds. And credit card issuers like to see that borrowers can responsibly manage these different types of debt. 

Opening a new credit card could also help you:

  • Take advantage of introductory offers and sign-up bonuses. 
  • Establish or build a strong credit history with consistent, on-time payments.
  • Use a balance transfer to help pay off high-interest debt.
  • Find a card with a great rewards program. 

The path to good credit involves patience and consistency. Opening a new card could cause an initial dip in your credit scores. But you could enjoy a lot of great benefits and maybe even improve your credit scores over time by using your new card responsibly.

Does pre-approval for a credit card lower your credit scores?

Pre-approval offers can help you explore your options before you apply for a new credit card. The good news: Pre-approval doesn’t affect your credit scores. But if you choose to apply for a pre-approval credit card offer, the application will trigger a hard inquiry, which can impact your scores. 

Checking whether you’re pre-approved before applying for a credit card could minimize the number of hard inquiries on your credit report. And that’s because receiving a pre-approval offer often means you have a good chance of being approved for that specific card. 

Focusing on applying for cards you’re pre-approved for could help you avoid application rejections. You can use tools like Capital One’s Pre-Approval Tool to check your potential eligibility without hurting your credit scores.  

What to consider before applying for a new credit card

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how opening a new credit card could impact your credit scores. But a new card could give you a credit-building opportunity with lots of benefits. 

Introductory offers, rewards programs, interest rates and eligibility requirements are a few important factors to consider. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends only applying for the credit you need. So, focusing on the credit card features best suited to you can help you narrow down your search. And looking at your pre-approval odds helps you explore your options before you apply—without affecting your scores.

When you open your new credit card, a small and temporary drop in your credit scores is possible. But using your card responsibly can help offset this impact. Making consistent on-time payments and avoiding high balances can have a positive impact on your credit scores over time. 

Checking your credit for accuracy is also a good idea. CreditWise from Capital One lets you access your TransUnion® credit report and VantageScore® 3.0 credit score—with no impact on your credit scores. CreditWise is free for everyone, and you don’t have to be a Capital One cardholder to use it. You can also get free copies of your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus at

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.

Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information, or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.

Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. Your CreditWise score is a good measure of your overall credit health, but it is not likely to be the same score used by creditors. 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.

CreditWise Alerts are based on changes to your TransUnion and Experian® credit reports and information we find on the dark web.

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