What Is The Best Time To Apply For Credit Cards?


There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the best time to apply for a credit card since it depends on your financial situation. If you’re in good financial standing and have a plan for your credit card, applying for one could be a great way to consolidate high-interest debt or rebuild your credit score. On the other hand, if you’re struggling to repay your current creditors or already applied for numerous credit cards recently, opening a new line of credit may not be the best financial move.

Credit cards are like double-edged swords. They can be a useful financial tool to help you thicken your credit file and demonstrate to future lenders that you’re a trustworthy borrower. However, if you fail to manage your credit cards wisely, you can find yourself buried in a pile of high-interest debt, which could lead you down a path of financial ruin.

So, when should you apply for a new credit card, and when should you hold off on opening one?

What is the best time to apply for credit cards?

Wondering when you should submit an application for a new credit card? Here are a few scenarios where it could be a good idea.

1. You turned 18.

18 is typically the minimum age requirement for opening your first credit card. So, if you just turned 18, consider submitting a credit card application to start building your credit.

However, since you probably have little disposable income and limited credit history at this stage of your life, you may not qualify for the most attractive card deals out there. Fortunately, many credit card companies offer products marketed exclusively to students who are looking to establish their credit. Here are a few popular credit card options to look into:

  • State Farm’s Student Visa
  • Discover it Chrome for Students
  • Deserve Edu Mastercard for Students
  • Journey Student Rewards card
  • Citi’s ThankYou Preferred card

If you want to compare the above and other student credit cards, take a look at the tool below.

2. You want to rebuild credit.

If your credit score is less-than-ideal, you may have difficulty getting approved for loans and other forms of credit in the future. One way to rebuild your credit is to apply for a secure credit card, like the Chime secured Credit Builder Visa, to repair your credit gradually.

Secured credit cards require you to provide a cash security deposit that’s generally equal to your credit line — which typically starts at $200 and can range upwards of $2,500. Because the deposit protects the issuer from losing money, secured credit cards are easier to qualify for.

3. You have a balance on a high-interest credit card.

Applying for balance transfer cards can be a smart financial move if you’re struggling with high-interest credit card debt. When you use a balance transfer card, you can save money on hefty interest charges by transferring the existing balance on your high-interest credit card to your balance transfer card.

Depending on the card you apply for, some even offer 0% APR introductory periods on balance transfers for a year or more. By transferring your high-interest debt onto this card, you can potentially save hundreds or even thousands in interest charges.

4. You’re planning to purchase big-ticket items.

Another good time to apply for a new credit card is if you’re planning to make a big-ticket purchase or splurge on gifts during the holiday season. Many credit cards, such as the Chase Freedom Flex card, offer large welcome bonuses for new customers who meet spending requirements within a certain timeframe.

However, don’t open a credit card solely for the welcome bonus. Consider other rewards and fees to ensure it’s actually the right fit. For instance, if you have a good credit score, you may qualify for one of the rewards cards below.

5. You’ve been pre-approved

Most credit card issuers will invite you to apply for a new credit card if you’ve met their initial requirements for that specific card. And while receiving a pre-approved credit card offer in the mail doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be approved for the card in question, it does mean you may have a higher chance of getting approved.

When you shouldn’t apply for a new credit card

While no one can stop you from applying for a new credit card, there are a few scenarios where you may want to refrain from doing so.

1. You’re planning to get a mortgage or apply for other loans.

If you plan on applying for a mortgage or a car loan in the near future, you may want to hold off on applying for a new credit card. Credit card applications result in hard inquiries on your credit report, which lowers your credit score by a few points.

While these dips are temporary, multiple hard inquiries could be trouble if you have a less-than-stellar credit score, which could make you more of a credit risk to future lenders. So, unless absolutely necessary, try not to apply for a new credit card if you’re shopping for personal loans, mortgages, car loans, etc.

2. Your finances are not in good shape.

Applying for a new line of credit when you’re drowning in debt and struggling to make payments to existing creditors is not a good idea. Doing so will only add to your financial stress and worsen your situation and credit score.

Instead of taking on more debt to finance your lifestyle, take a step back and assess how you can better manage your money. If you need help, consider seeking free financial counseling services offered by organizations such as the Financial Counseling Association of America or those below to help you get back on track.

3. You just applied for a credit card.

Each credit card application generates a new hard inquiry. If you just applied for a credit card last week, for example, applying for another credit card right away can be damaging to your credit. Try waiting three to six months between new credit card applications to keep your credit score from dropping too much.

Pro Tip

If you’re not sure how many hard inquiries you currently have on your credit report, order a free copy of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.

What to be aware of before applying for credit cards

Here are a few things Bill Ryze, a certified Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) board advisor at Fiona, says you should be aware of before applying for a new credit card:

  1. You won’t get the best deals at first. If you’re applying for your first credit card, Ryze says you likely won’t be able to qualify for the best deals since credit cards with the best deals go to people with excellent credit scores. However, depending on your current situation, you can get a secured credit card, a credit card for those with fair credit, or a student credit card to get started on building your credit history.
  2. There may be hidden limitations. Before submitting your new credit card application, Ryze advises you to “look at the limitations typically concealed in the fine print.” Carefully review what you should do to qualify for rewards and bonuses, “then do the math and see if they’re worth it.”
  3. A second credit card will not solve your debt issue. Ryze says, “If you’re considering applying for a second credit card because your first card is maxed out, the second credit card is not your solution.” He urges you to evaluate your spending habits and repay your debts first before considering taking out another line of credit that could make your financial situation worse.


What time of year is best to apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card at any time of the year. However, if you’d like to take advantage of sign-up bonus offers, submitting a credit card application right before the holiday shopping season can be a smart decision.

Many credit card issuers typically require new customers to meet the spending requirements within the first few months after opening the account to qualify for a sign-up bonus. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex card allows you to earn a $200 bonus only if you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

So, if you have plenty of holiday shopping to do, you may want to put your purchases on your new credit card to qualify for exciting bonuses.

Is there a better time of day to apply for a credit card?

No. Your chances of getting approved for a credit card are not affected by the particular date, time, or day of the week that you submit an application. What influences your odds of approval are factors such as your credit score, income, number of hard inquiries, credit utilization ratio, and payment history.

So, instead of worrying about the best time to apply for a credit card, focus on improving how you manage credit and building a positive credit history so that future creditors see you as a reliable and trustworthy borrower.

Does your credit go down every time you apply for a credit card?

Kind of. Every time you apply for a credit card, the card issuer will pull your credit file, resulting in a hard inquiry on your credit reports. These hard inquiries will generally knock your credit score down by a few points temporarily — nothing too drastic. However, if you apply for multiple credit cards at the same time, your credit score could drop steeply.

Key Takeaways

  • Consider applying for a new credit card if you’ve already received a pre-approval letter, want to build your credit, consolidate high-interest debt, or take advantage of welcome bonuses.
  • Avoid applying for a new credit card if you’ll be applying for loans and new lines of credit soon or if your finances aren’t in good shape.
  • Try to wait three to six months between new credit card applications to prevent your credit score from dropping too much due to multiple hard inquiries.
  • Factors that affect your chances of getting approved for new credit include your credit score, income, number of hard inquiries, credit utilization ratio, and payment history.
View Article Sources
  1. Can You Apply for Two Credit Cards at Once? — Experian
  2. § 1026.60 Credit and charge card applications and solicitations. — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  3. If You Get Denied for a Credit Card, When Should You Reapply? — SuperMoney
  4. How Long Does it Take to Get a Credit Card? Top 7 Credit Card Issuers — SuperMoney
  5. 7 Credit Card Debt Forgiveness Options — SuperMoney
  6. How Much Debt Is Too Much? And What Can You Do About It? — SuperMoney
  7. 5 Times It Is Best To Say Yes To New Credit — SuperMoney
  8. How to Apply for a Credit Card So You’ll Get Approved — SuperMoney
  9. How to Remove Hard Inquiries From Your Credit Report (2023) — SuperMoney
  10. What’s the difference between a secured credit card & an unsecured credit card? — SuperMoney
  11. Best Personal Credit Cards — SuperMoney