Does Applying for Credit Cards Hurt Your Credit?

A credit inquiry may ding your score, and several can cause a big dent. Here’s how to apply wisely.
Bev O'SheaSep 19, 2021

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Applying for credit cards can damage your credit scores.

Just a single application may shave a few points off your score. But multiple applications for cards in a short span could suggest you are a riskier borrower than someone who applies less often.

This can be especially frustrating if you are trying to build a . One way to establish credit is by getting a credit card and using it responsibly. And in order to get a card, you have to apply.

People can and do get multiple credit cards. And you can, too, if you apply strategically for the right cards and space out applications.

Consider these factors :

Want to try out a few scenarios about applying for credit and how it might affect your score? As part of NerdWallet’s free , you can use the to estimate the effect of various actions.

Statistically speaking, a new application can represent more risk for the card issuer. The impact is greatest if you have just a few accounts or a short credit history.

A relatively small portion of your credit score (whether the dominant or its rival, ) is determined by how recently you have applied for credit.

A is any review of your credit profile, but only so-called “hard inquiries” can affect your credit score. A hard credit inquiry is performed when you apply for a loan or credit card, and it will stay on your credit report for up to two years, though it generally does not affect your score after six months.

Through April 2022, you can check your credit reports from each of the three major bureaus for free weekly at . It will show both hard inquiries (when your report is pulled as a result of a credit application) and soft inquiries, when you check your own credit or it is checked for a preapproval offer and you have not applied for credit. (You can keep tabs on your credit more often with NerdWallet’s summary, which updates weekly.)

Remember, your credit score is meant to predict how likely you are to repay borrowed money. If you’re showing a behavior that’s correlated with mismanaging credit, your score will drop to reflect this.

does not affect it. It’s a smart way to stay aware of how lenders and card issuers are likely to view you and could potentially alert you to identity theft. It can also let you see how your money management habits affect your credit profile.

Former NerdWallet writer Lindsay Konsko contributed to this article. 

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