Should You Apply for Multiple Credit Cards at the Same Time?

Applying for too many cards at once can hurt your credit score. It's best to be strategic.
Erin El Issa
By Erin El Issa 

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So you’re looking for a credit card and aren’t sure which one has the best rewards, which one you’ll qualify for or even which one is the best for your lifestyle and needs. To help you narrow your options, you decide to apply for multiple credit cards at the same time and see which one or ones you get approved for. Can’t hurt, right? Actually, wrong.

Why not apply for several credit cards?

The simple answer is that applying for too many cards at once can hurt your credit score. Credit scores are calculated based on a combination of five factors: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit used. When it comes to applying for multiple credit cards at once, it’s the new credit category that’s at risk of being affected.

Every time you apply for a new credit card, you’re essentially expressing interest in acquiring new credit. Each one of these requests will cause the potential lender in question to look into your credit score. This could take several points off of your overall score. Accumulate too many of these all at once and you could be looking at a larger blow to your credit standing than you’d expect.

Additionally, potential lenders may become suspicious if they see you’re applying for multiple credit cards at the same time. Such a move could come across as a desperate attempt on your part to secure credit. Furthermore, if one lender notices that you’ve been turned down or declined from a number of other lenders, it may decide it’s not willing to take you on either. As a general rule, you don’t want to do anything that will make potential lenders leery of investing in you. They won’t want to take on someone who is risky or displays any sort of financial red flags.

What should you do instead?

You definitely don’t want to send out too many credit card applications at once, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options for securing credit. You’ll just need to be a little more strategic with how you go about doing so. Compare potential credit cards well before you even think about applying for one. For example, you’ll possibly want to weigh some of the following aspects of credit cards: interest rates, cash-back bonuses, rewards and sign-up bonuses.

If you’re looking to apply for a credit card sometime in the near future and aren’t sure where to start your comparison research, check out NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards. You’ll be able to match the rewards and benefits you’re looking for with some of the top cards that offer them.

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