How Many Credit Cards Should You Apply for and How Often?

Through my travel coaching service and using I helped a friend over the weekend plan a trip to New Orleans and California in the summer. This was their first app-o-rama ever and his parting question after signing up for four credit cards between him and his wife was – How often can we sign up for credit cards?

Why You Can’t Apply for New Cards Every Week?

FICO says that people with six or more inquiries on their credit report are eight times more likely to default, and inquiries stay on your report for about two years. However, this doesn’t mean you can apply for five credit cards in one week and lay low for the next two years. Too many applications too quickly will raise red flags. From the lender’s perspective, someone who needs that much additional credit in a short period of time is probably a risky borrower.

But unfortunately, while we look at credit cards as a way to earn award flights and hotel stays, the banks view credit cards as a business.  And the banks do NOT want to lose money by extending credit to people who will not pay their bills.

So each bank determines how much credit to give you based on factors such as your income, history of repaying debts, and the number of new credit card accounts you’ve opened recently.


How long should I wait before my next round of application?

The six-inquiry guideline doesn’t necessarily mean you’re limited to three credit cards a year, either. People with excellent credit have reported success in waiting just 91 days between applications. However, the 91-day rule works best for the “prime” customers: people who spend a lot, make payments on time, have a low debt utilization ratio and typically have higher incomes. Last year, I got approved for two of the Citi Executive AA cards when they rolled out the 100,000 sign-up offer after waiting  65 days between applications. As a rule of thumb, a six-month waiting period is a good baseline. If you have great credit, a high income and a history of on-time payments, you can probably get away with less; if you don’t have good credit, you should wait longer – as much as a year.

How many cards can I apply for?

Banks don’t like to see a lot of credit inquiries on your credit report because it means you could be less likely to pay back your debt.

So it’s key to apply for credit cards from different banks.  That’s because many banks will allow only a limited number of open accounts and they typically pull your credit report from just 1 of the 3 credit bureaus. The effect of credit inquiries drops off after 3 to 6 months.  So some people like to apply for 3 to 4 cards every 3 to 4 months. But you have to analyze your situation and see what you are comfortable with.


The time you should wait between credit card applications depends on several of your personal financial factors. Use the information above to guide your decision, and you’ll be on your way to making a good credit card (and credit score) choice. You may check out some great credit card deals and limited time sign up bonus offers on

Categories: Credit cards, FICO | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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