If you are asking the question, “When is the best time for me to apply for a credit card?” the answer does not involve a certain season, month or time of year. Instead, you have to consider your individual financial situation and your credit situation in order to answer this question effectively.
Applying for new credit cards can affect your credit score. So as a general rule, you should never submit several applications for a new credit card within a short time span. Each application creates what is called a “hard” inquiry for your credit report. This can temporarily lower your credit score. If other applications are received and inquiries are made during this temporary time period, you may actually be approved for a credit account or several of them but your interest rates will be higher because of the temporary drop in your score.
Another thing to consider is your credit history. If you have not had credit for very long, applying for a new credit card is much more detrimental to your credit score. While it is still a temporary drop, it drops lower than if you have had credit accounts for several years.
You should also be aware of your overall available credit and the amount of debt you have when considering applying for a new credit card. If you have credit accounts with zero balances, it does not always help to close these accounts if you plan on opening new credit cards with other companies. Closing these accounts reduces your available credit limit and your situation will look as though you are using a greater percentage of the credit available to you which can look like you are not a good credit risk. This can raise your interest rates or disqualify you altogether from getting a new credit card.
Finally, you should be current with all of your payments before applying for a new credit card. Late payments and non-payments especially can hurt your credit score and result in a much higher interest rate if you are even approved for a new credit account.
Applying for a new credit card should take more thought and consideration than simply filling out a form online and waiting to be approved. It is important to be responsible with the credit that is available to you so you can use it wisely instead of winding up in a mountain of debt. Consider the options above every time you get a new application in the mail or click on a link to apply for a new credit card. You’ll be glad you did!