It’s a new year, and you’re probably thinking of everything you missed out on in 2020. While the pandemic is still well underway, there’s a good chance things might go back to normal over the next few months.
You may have big plans for that dream vacation you postponed or that home improvement project you’ve been dying to complete. Whatever the case, you might be thinking about getting a new credit card to finance your purchase and turn those dreams into a reality.
If funding a big-ticket purchase isn’t one of your reasons for getting another credit card, you might want one to raise your credit limit. Or perhaps you want to take advantage of a generous introductory offer. The thing is, there are tons of valid reasons why you would like one.
But if you already have a credit card (or two, or three…), you might wonder if applying for another is the right decision. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to have the benefits mentioned above, but they aren’t worth the cost of potentially damaging your credit.
Conventional wisdom says to have no more than just a couple of credit cards — perhaps no more than three. However, like anything else, there’s always an exception. So if you’re on the fence and can’t decide whether or not to apply for a new credit card, check out these tips from the Motley Fool.
What’s Wrong With Having Too Many Credit Cards?
Whenever you apply for a loan or credit card, the lender performs a hard inquiry to check your creditworthiness, which can temporarily trim several points off your credit score. While one hard credit pull isn’t enough to tank your score, having several lenders run hard inquiries on your report can. This can make it more difficult to secure approval.
Not just that, but lenders can see how many times you’ve applied for a line of credit in a specific time frame. Multiple credit applications could be a warning to lenders that you’re desperate for cash and pose a high risk.
For this reason, it’s best to wait about six months every time you apply for a new credit card. Anything within that time could result in a rejection and unnecessary hit to your credit score.
Be aware that hard inquiries affect your credit profile, regardless if you receive approval or are rejected. And every application you send will trigger one, so be mindful of this as you apply for another credit card.
On the other hand, if your credit is already in good shape, you can enjoy a bit more leniency when applying for another credit line. If a lender notices that you’ve applied for a couple of other cards in a short period and you have an excellent credit score, they will most likely accept your application.
Time Your Applications
If you intend to get one or two new credit cards this year, you should make sure to time your applications appropriately. Here are a few situations to be aware of:
If you plan on getting a mortgage, you might want to postpone any credit card applications until you secure the home loan. If your credit score borderlines good and excellent, the last thing you want is to do anything that would lower it. Doing so risks higher interest rates on your home loan that you’ll be forced to pay for the duration of the mortgage.
If you’re trying to improve your credit score, it would be best to wait to get a new credit card. At the very least, wait more than six months to apply for another one.
If you want to take advantage of a generous welcome offer, make sure you submit your application before taking on a considerable expense. For example, if you plan on moving in April and know you’ll need to buy furniture for your new house in May, you might want to put off a card with an introductory offer until you finalize the mortgage. Doing so allows you to meet the spending requirements and enjoy the rewards.
Regardless of your circumstances, be extra careful about getting a new credit card in 2021. You don’t want to take on too many because it could impact your credit and tempt you to spend beyond your means — which can lead to a host of other issues on its own.
- Backman, Maurie. “How Many New Credit Cards Should You Get in 2021?” The Motley Fool, 8 Jan. 2021, www.fool.com/the-ascent/credit-cards/articles/how-many-new-credit-cards-should-you-get-in-2021/.