How Many Credit Cards are Too Many? Don’t Apply Too Often

A credit card can help you build credit history and scores, enabling you to find housing, buy a car and sometimes even get a job. According to the 2019 Experian Consumer Credit Review, the average American has four credit cards. In fact, not having a credit card in the United States makes it almost impossible to get anything done.

You need a credit card to complete booking hotel rooms, obtaining a rental car, buying event tickets and passes and booking travel. Credit cards are essential to building a good credit score and credit history.

How Often Should You Apply for a New Card?

You can apply for as many as you like, but it’s best if you wait 90 days between applications. But ideally, you should wait six months. Applying for a credit card after six months will minimize the impact on your credit score, and some financial institutions restrict the number of cards they’ll issue to you.

There’s no official number of credit cards that one person can have, but the more you have, the greater the risk of hurting your credit score. The drop in your credit score is roughly 5 points, and the impact decreases over time despite inquiries remaining on your credit report for two years.

Also Read: How Much Credit Card Debt is Too Much?

How Many Applications Can You Submit at One Time?

There’s no limit, but we advise not more than one. It’s possible to game the system and hit send on five or six at once, but this is not recommended. Multiple credit cards can be a sign that your credit card debt is out of control. And even if you are approved for multiple credit cards in an instant, it will affect your prospects of approval down the road. Keep in mind that multiple credit card inquiries not only hurt your score but can raise a red flag for future creditors.

Each new inquiry for credit can knock a few points off your score, so the fewer cards you apply for, the better.

Also Read: What’s the Best Way to Pay Off Multiple Credit Cards?

Why Should You Wait Between Applications?

Credit applications can affect your credit score in two different ways. When you apply for credit, each application triggers a hard inquiry. That’s how credit card applications work. In short, trying to open multiple credit cards over a short period will lead to numerous hard inquiries. And that could hurt your credit scores more than a single hard inquiry.

Your FICO score is based on five different factors:

  • Payment history: 35%
  • Credit utilization ratio: 30%
  • Length of credit history: 15%
  • Credit mix: 10%
  • New credit: 10%

Read more: Why Did My Credit Score Drop? Here are 10 Possible Reasons

New Accounts Will Hurt Your Credit Score First

When you apply for a new account, the lender runs a credit inquiry or a “hard pull” on your credit report. Your credit score will usually dip after each hard inquiry. If there are several recent credit inquiries on your credit report over a short period, your credit score could take a bigger hit because lenders see opening new lines of credit as a sign that you’re taking on more debt.

In addition, length of credit history means that the longer your accounts have been open, the higher your score will be. So, any new account will shorten that average length of credit history.

Your credit mix could also take a hit if all of your debt is on credit cards. The three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) prefer a more diverse borrowing mix when looking at your total credit mix. For example, someone with a mortgage, car loan, and two credit cards will likely score higher in this category than someone who only has credit card debt.

Many Credit Card Issuers Have Application Limits

While these aren’t usually formally announced, credit card issuers have implemented their limits, primarily to limit card “churning” as people repeatedly open and close accounts to maximize opportunities to collect welcome bonuses.

American Express

American Express limits customers to no more than five American Express-branded credit cards and no more than 10 Amex charge cards. Amex also limits cardholders to two credit card applications over 90 days. While you can submit more than two, the others will be automatically declined until the clock resets. In addition, Amex has some strict guidelines on card sign-up bonuses. While many cards limit sign-up bonuses to once every few years, with Amex you will only get a bonus for each particular card once in your lifetime.

Bank of America

Bank of America’s guidelines is informally referred to as the 2/3/4 rule: You can qualify for two cards within 30 days, three cards within one year, and four cards over two years. However, this rule only applies to Bank of America-branded cards. Bank of America does not consider cards you’ve gotten from other credit card issuers.

Capital One

Capital One limits cardholders to one new Capital One card every six months, and you can only have two Capital One personal credit cards open at one time. However, co-branded Capital One and business credit cards don’t count toward that limit.


Chase’s restriction is informally known as the 5/24 rule. If you have opened more than five credit card accounts over the past 24 months — whether they’re Chase cards or cards from another issuer — Chase will not approve your application. Cards on which you’re an authorized user and charge cards that you can only use at one specific retailer, such as Kohls, Nordstrom, etc., are often counted against you. However, business branded cards don’t apply.

The 5/24 rule is in place to slow multiple applications and “churning” as people try to game the system to collect lucrative travel bonuses.


Citi allows one new application every eight days, and you cannot apply for more than two Citi credit cards over 65 days. Applicants are also limited to one Citi business credit card application every 90 days.


Discover cardholders are limited to one new Discover card per year and no more than two Discover cards simultaneously.

Wells Fargo

You may not qualify for a new Wells Fargo card if you’ve opened a Wells Fargo card over the past six months. It’s also possible that Wells Fargo could limit the number of accounts you can open. 

Benefits of Credit Cards

Credit cards can have a lot of benefits. Some offer 0% balance transfers. They provide access to cash advances when you are in a pinch. Be aware that cash advances carry a different and often higher interest rate than purchases or balance transfers. The reason is that people who take out cash advances are more likely to default on their credit card debt than people who do not. That’s part of the reason that interest rates on cash advances are higher. 

Rewards credit cards can offer lucrative bonuses. And cards offer other perks like purchase protection, fraud alerts, rental car insurance, travel insurance, and even cell phone protection.

What if My Credit Score is Too Low to Qualify for a Credit Card

Many of the best credit card offers require excellent credit. If your credit score is less than ideal, some cards still target borrowers with fair credit. You may need to start with a secured credit card if you have bad credit or no credit. A secured card can help you build credit and give you time to try other strategies to boost your credit score.

What’s the difference between a hard pull and a soft pull when you’re applying for a credit card? Check out this video to learn more.

The Bottom Line

Having a credit card is a necessary evil. It is possible to function financially without a credit card, but having at least one or two in your wallet is a good idea.

A credit card can be a great way to build credit or finance large purchases. But it can also hurt your credit score and cause debt. Getting a new credit card is a big decision you shouldn’t make based on a welcome bonus but on your current ability to repay the debt and attain a positive impact on your credit score and finances.


What are the Top Rewards Credit Cards?

Chase Freedom Flex– Annual fee of $0, an earnings structure that covers expenses including travel, drugstores, dining at restaurants, plus rotating quarterly bonus categories that earn 5% rewards when activated and up to a combined $1500 quarterly maximum. It comes with a $200 welcome bonus after $500 spent on opening the account’s first three months.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards– $0 annual fee, $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases within three months from account opening. You earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase and unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. No rotating categories or sign-ups are needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won’t expire for the life of the account, and there’s no limit to how much you can make.
Discover It Cashback -$0 annual fee, 5% cash back on quarterly rotating spending categories throughout the year (activation required). Introduction offer that Discovery will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. No minimum spending or maximum rewards on cashback redemption. 5% bonus cashback rate is limited to $1,500 per quarter in spending. Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and when you pay using PayPal.
Chase Sapphire Preferred – $95 annual fee, get 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4000 on purchases in the first three months. Enjoy $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x on dining, and 2x on all other travel purchases. With Pay Yourself Back, points are worth 25% more when redeemed for statement credit against purchases in rotating categories.
Barclay AAdvantage Aviator – $99 annual fee, get 60,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the yearly fee in full within the first 90 days. Get up to $25 back as statement credits on inflight Wi-Fi purchases annually on American Airlines-operated flights.
Capital One Venture – $95 annual fee, a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, which equals $750 in travel. Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. The miles won’t expire for the life of the account, and there’s no limit to how many you can earn. You can use miles to reimburse yourself for any travel purchase or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel. You can transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs.

What are the Best Secured Credit Cards? 

What is the Best Secured Credit Cards? 
The main difference between prepaid and secured credit cards is that prepaid cards are debit cards, while secured cards are credit cards. More importantly, secured credit cards help cardholders build a credit history, and prepaid cards do not.
After you’ve paid your deposit, it works like a traditional credit card, and the cardholder can use the card anywhere credit cards are accepted, including online. Your bill is paid monthly, and you pay for your purchases as usual, but the deposit does not go toward your accounts. These on-time payments and regular card use will help you build credit. A single late payment will stay on your credit report for up to seven years. If you carry a balance, you will pay interest. Credit card issuers usually offer both secured and unsecured cards. The cards sometimes charge an annual fee of up to $50, but there are plenty of options that don’t include a yearly fee.
Here’s a list that we recommend you check out:
OpenSky Secured Credit Visa: Minimum security deposit: $200 and a 17.39% variable APR.
Capital One Quicksilver Secured: Minimum security deposit: $200 with purchase APR of 14.99% to 26.99% Variable.
Discover It Secured: Minimum security deposit: $200 with a purchase APR of 22.99% variable.

What Should I Do if I Find a Mistake on my Credit Report?

Errors on your credit report are surprisingly common. If you find a mistake, here’s what you should do next. Contact the credit bureaus and the company that provided the incorrect information. Ask them to remove it or update it. It will usually take some time for your credit score to increase after removing an error, so it’s best to review everything a couple of weeks before you anticipate applying for a loan or credit card.

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