When you go to the hardware store to buy tools, you often find that you need more than one. Likewise, there are also some times when you may feel inclined to apply for multiple credit cards at once.
Sometimes, there are several special, limited-time offers that you want to take advantage of, while other times you may simply need multiple different cards for their unique features. And occasionally, you may wish to apply for both a business and a personal credit card at the same time.
No Big Deal?
There’s nothing saying you can’t apply for multiple credit cards at the same time. Each application is generally considered separately, and it’s not uncommon for some people to be approved for two or three new credit card accounts on the same day. However, there are some potential drawbacks that you should consider before going down this road.
First, each credit card application you submit will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report. And having multiple inquiries for new credit in a short period of time can hurt your credit score, as the scoring formulas can interpret this as sign of potential financial distress.
Thankfully, any drop this causes in most credit scores will be small and temporary, as recent inquiries are not nearly as important to your score as your record of on-time payments or your level of debt is. Nevertheless, it’s best to avoid applying for any new credit cards in the months before completing a new applications for a major loan such as a home mortgage or car loan because you want your credit score to be in the best shape possible. And, if you’re working on repairing your credit, you may want to keep new credit inquiries to a minimum.
Next, you should consider that applying for multiple credit cards at once may reduce the chances of being approved for all of those new accounts, as each card issuer will look at your credit report — and, depending on the time, could see all those recent applications for new plastic. If that’s the case, even if you have an excellent credit score, you may not be automatically approved for each new account (again, issuers may view taking on multiple credit lines at once as a sign of risk), and you may have to speak to a new accounts specialist and explain why you submitted multiple applications.
Finally, you should ensure that you are capable of managing multiple new accounts. Each one of these new accounts will have its own monthly statement that needs to be reviewed, and payments that must be made on time. And if you are applying for multiple new accounts in order to earn sign-up bonuses, you will likely have to complete the minimum spending requirement for each new account — which could lead to overspending if those thresholds are beyond your budget.
Upping the Approval Odds
Whether you’re applying for one or multiple credit cards, issuers will hesitate to approve new applications for credit if they feel you may be in financial trouble. Therefore, the best way to maximize your chance of approval for any credit card is to minimize your existing debt. To do this, pay down your existing credit card balances as much as possible, especially on any accounts you have with the card issuers that you are applying to. And it’s a good idea to wait until your next statement has closed so the lower balance is reflected on your credit report. (Remember, issuers tend to report balances as of your statement’s billing date versus the day your payment is actually due.)
And, remember, a good credit score can help you qualify for the best terms and conditions. (You can see two of your credit scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com.) So, if you’re looking for a new credit card, you may want to see if there’s anything you can do ahead of filling out the application to improve your standing. You can build good credit in the long-term by making all your loan payments on time, keeping debt levels low and adding a mix of accounts to your credit profile only as your score(s) and your wallet can handle doing so.
More on Credit Cards:
- Credit.com’s Expert Credit Card Shopping Tips
- How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit
- An Expert Guide to Credit Cards With Rewards
Image: Martin Dimitrov