Can I Apply for Credit Cards I’ve Had Before?

Here’s what you need to know if you plan to apply for credit cards you’ve had in the past.
Erin El Issa
By Erin El Issa 
Can I Apply for Credit Cards I've Had Before?

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If you've ever canceled a credit card and then later decided that you wanted the card after all, take heart: You can apply for the same card again. If you used the card responsibly in the past — you didn't miss payments, for example, or repeatedly max out the card — the issuer will be more likely to welcome you back. And as with any credit card application, the better your credit, the better your chances of approval.

Policies vary by issuer

It's up to the issuer to decide whether to give you the same card you had previously. If you qualify for the card, and the issuer has no policies against it, your application may go through without a hitch. But there may be complicating factors:

  • The card may no longer be available to new applicants. Card issuers regularly adjust their offerings, introducing new products and phasing out old ones. If the issuer has stopped accepting applications for the card you want, you're out of luck.

  • There may be a waiting period. You might have to wait, say, 24 months from the time you closed the card, or from when you were approved the first time around, before you can apply again.

  • You might not qualify for a bonus. More issuers are going to greater lengths to crack down on "churners" — people who open credit cards with a lucrative sign-up bonus, then close the account once they've earned the bonus. For example, American Express generally allows you to earn the new-cardholder welcome offer on a given card only once. If you cancel and reapply, you may get approved, but you won't get another bonus.

Note that these types of issuer policies change often, and sometimes it’s judged on a case-by-case basis. Before applying again, read the terms and conditions on the issuer's website to see if you'd be blocked from approval (or from earning a bonus). If you're denied, read the explanation carefully.

Don't trash your scores

Applying for multiple credit cards in a short period of time can hurt your credit scores, as can closing credit card accounts soon after opening them. Aim to space out your credit card applications and not apply for many at the same time. Try not to make a habit of quickly opening or closing credit card accounts, as you may damage your credit and make it more difficult to get approved for the cards of your choice in the long run.

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