Should I get a second credit card?

What to consider before applying for another credit card.

Have you outgrown your first credit card? If you’re looking for higher spending limits or better rewards, you might be considering a second credit card. 

Just remember that a history of responsible financial behavior and a good credit score can make getting approved for a card much easier. Before you apply for another card, you can evaluate your credit habits and research whether a second credit card is right for you.

When should you get a second credit card?

The decision of when to apply for a second credit card is a personal one based on your individual circumstances. Here are some signs you may be ready to introduce another credit card to your wallet:

  1. Your credit score has recently improved. You may have a wider selection of credit cards to choose from with an improved credit score. A good credit score may unlock access to credit cards with higher spending limits and better rewards.
  2. You want to maximize potential rewards. When adding a second credit card, it’s important to choose one that aligns with your lifestyle. If you spend a lot of time traveling, a credit card that offers travel and miles rewards might be a good idea. Take your spending habits into account when determining the best type of credit card for you
  3. You’ve had your first credit card for at least six months. Every situation is unique, and it depends on the type of credit scoring model being used. But according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), it generally takes at least six months for your credit score to be created after you first open a credit card account. Without demonstrating good credit habits over time, you may face higher interest rates when applying for a second credit card. 

There are also signs you might not be ready for a second credit card just yet. If you’re planning on applying for a loan like a mortgage, be aware that a credit card application will  trigger a hard inquiry. And that can temporarily impact your credit score. 

Or if you have a less-than-great credit score, you might not be approved for the most favorable card terms. But using your credit wisely can help you build good credit.

What to look for in a second credit card

What you need out of a credit card can largely depend on your lifestyle. Here are some things to look out for when shopping for credit cards:

  1. Read the card’s account terms and disclosures. They’re there for a reason! This is where you’ll find information on things like cash advance fees and rewards expiration dates. Pay special attention to what the APRs will be. A lot of credit cards offer a special 0% introductory APR when you first sign on. So it’s important to know when the promotional APR ends and the standard APR begins.
  2. Consider if there’s an annual fee. Knowing yourself and your spending habits allows you to make a more informed decision when getting a second credit card. For example, consider if the rewards you can earn with a particular card are worth the annual fee that might be charged.
  3. Examine and compare card-specific benefits. Some rewards credit cards focus on specific benefits, like travel or dining. Others offer cash back on every purchase you make. 

If you’re still not sure which credit card is right for you, Capital One has a credit card comparison tool that may help you make a more informed decision.

Applying for a credit card

Credit card applications can have an impact on your credit score. So if you’ve decided to apply for a second card, you should brush up on what happens when you apply for a credit card

Once you apply for a card, lenders will do a hard inquiry on your credit report. And according to FICO, a hard inquiry can have a negative effect on your credit score by just a few points. Having too many inquiries on your credit report—especially within a short period of time—may also have an impact, the CFPB says. 

Find out if you’re pre-approved

If you’re concerned about a drop in your credit score, consider finding out if you’re pre-approved before you apply. Pre-approvals generally don’t impact your credit score and give you a reasonable expectation of whether you qualify for a particular card. 

Not sure what card you might qualify for? Capital One’s pre-approval tool is a quick and secure way to find out, with no impact to your credit score. 

If your application isn’t approved, don’t give up. Practice good credit habits, monitor your credit score and consider applying again once you’re in an improved position.

Should you apply for a second credit card?

Ultimately, only you can make that decision for yourself. But if you’ve decided that the timing is right, and you’ve researched the different types of credit cards, you may be ready to apply for a second credit card. It’s always a good idea to compare specific benefits and annual fees between credit cards when weighing your options. 

Monitoring and knowing your credit score are also important. When you use CreditWise from Capital One, you can check your VantageScore® 3.0 credit score for free at any time. You don’t have to be a Capital One customer to use it and, best of all, it won’t hurt your credit score.

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 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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