Do You Pick a Date Every 3 Months for Card Applications?

by on August 10, 2014 · 31 comments

in Credit Cards, Credit FAQ, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG Reader Michael sent in a question:

“…if you do a new round of applications every three months or so, do you choose an exact day in January, April, July and October?”

I’ve got 23 different active credit cards right now, and I know a lot of people who have many more than that. My personal strategy is to apply for credit cards when the offers are high, and I don’t necessarily have a set schedule. If you’ve got a good job, good credit and good income, getting approved for a credit card is all about making sure your score is over 700; the higher the better.

There there are some points and miles enthusiasts out there who have exact dates. A common strategy is to wait 91 days between applications, and since previous card applications drop off your credit report after 6 months (often on a specific date), synchronizing those applications ensures that your credit score will be at its highest when you apply. Some people use this technique to maximize the number of cards they can get. Instead, I prefer to strike while the iron is hot when a particularly high signup bonus is available. Some only last a very short time, so the opportunity cost of having to wait when you see an amazing deal is much higher than the benefit of timing your applications on a certain date.

Should you pick the same date every three months to apply for a card? Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Do You Choose an Exact Day Every 3 Months to Apply for a Card? Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Whenever you apply for cards just make sure that you are abiding by the rules that the issuer states on the application (e.g., Chase states that you can’t get the bonus on the Sapphire Preferred if you’ve received that bonus within the last two years). Your best bet is to focus on that versus a set schedule, especially if you’re only applying for a handful of cards each year.

What’s your strategy for credit card applications? Please share your ideas and suggestions in the comments below, and feel free to write me with additional questions by messaging me on Facebook, tweeting me @ThePointsGuy, or sending me an email at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Justin

    Good info but it leaves the question of how many apps in a 91 day period are too much? Should they all be applied for the same day or does it not matter?

  • Scott C

    I also wonder on the frequency that you can hit a particular issuer, Chase for instance. I know there are some that only will approve you for some many within X number of days. I need to check up on that, just applied for a business and personal for my wife with Chase and naturally the Chase United card ups it’s bonus 2 weeks later. I’ve already had that one myself. I can understand the striking when the iron is hot mentality though as I would have liked to get in on this one but it’s not in my immediate needs plans. I actually struck when annual fees were due to leverage my ability to cancel a card in order to get a card if needed. Lots of variables I guess.

  • Jason

    Same happened with me in March. I applied and got approved with Chase Slate and Barclay’s Hawaiian Airlines…but on my 3rd application (Marriott Rewards via Chase) which I also applied in March, I got declined. 5 months later (last Friday), I got an invite from Marriott Rewards via Chase (70K bonus), and got approved. Any thoughts on this? Looks to me that applying to “like” banks within the same timeframe (in my case in less than 30 days) hurt my chances of getting approved.

  • Bill

    Credit inquiries stay on your report for 2 years! Where did you get that number?

  • Adam

    In China maybe.

  • scott

    I’ve never been able to wait the X number of days before doing another round of cc applications, though I’ve tried. Some great limited time offer always comes out. There was the Chase British Air 100K offer that was immediately followed by the Citi Executive 100K offer. Ended up taking the Citi offer several times over the course of several months. Took the Amex Starwood 30K offer during this time. I held off on the Ink Plus 60K offer in an attempt to wait 90 days, but then came the Ink Plus in branch 70K offer. I’ve been approved for at least 10 cc’s in the past year. The only one declined was the Ink Bold. After getting a whole bunch of Chase cards last fall I saw my credit line decrease with each card. They only offered $2K with the BA card in November(had to transfer credit lines to increase that). I didn’t apply for another Chase card until June, and they gave me a $20K CL.

  • Bill

    In the US. Do some research,

  • Andrew

    TPG, when you quote the 23 cards, does that span your personal cards plus cards for your multiple businesses. By adding more business, is that how you churn the same card more than once for issuers that do not allow churning?

  • Rykux

    TPG, where can I find the fine print from Chase that says I can get their Sapphire Preferred Bonus again after 2 years? (And is it 2 years after previous account opening, or closing?)

  • Sarah

    I recently got the Chase United card with the 30,000 miles with $1000 spend reward, and of course days later I discovered they had a new offer – 50,000 for a $2000 spend. I called Chase and they switched me to the latter one, no problem. Worth calling if you see a better offer within a reasonable period of time…

  • John

    Bill, the way I understand it is that they stay on your report for 2 years, but only impact your score for the first 6 months. So after the first 6 months it’s like it isn’t even there, although it is. I could be wrong, but I believe this is right, and if so you are correct the post should be changed.

  • Graydon

    Bill is correct. The HP are visible to all lenders who view your report for two years to the day that the HP pull was made. After 2 years they drop off forever. The 6 month period *might* be what some lenders use internally but we will never know that with any certainty and should chalk up to hearsay. If they are on your report for 2 years then they impact your score for 2 years.

  • Stone

    Tpg could you please comment? Does chase allow us to churn after 24 months?

  • Redpanda

    In July I applied for 8 credit cards total, 2 from chase spaced a week and 2 from Amex in the same day, then the following week, one from US bank, one from citi, one from Bank of America, and one from Barclaycard. Also worth mentioning that they were my first cards with Amex, Boa, citi and US bank. None of them seemed to care about the excessive apps I was making, except for US Bank which initially flagged my application for fraud and had me call in to confirm some info and approved me the following day.

    Additionally, when i tried to apply for a third Amex card in the same month, my application was immediately cancelled without a credit check. After calling in, the rep told me that they would not approve more than two applications in a 30 day period.

    So in general, Applying for no more than 2 credit cards per bank in a 91 day period is a safe bet, and I don’t think the number of applications matters in most cases, of course YMMV

  • Redpanda

    On the Offer details website you can find

    This new cardmember bonus offer is not available to either (i)
    current cardmembers of this consumer credit card, or (ii) previous
    cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit card within the last 24 months

    So it seems like it’s 2 years after account opening (receiving the bonus), but you should call in and ask just to be sure

  • Redpanda

    I believe TPG mentioned in a previous post that 5 out of his 23 cards are business cards. And he was able to get the sign up bonus for the ink plus twice because he had two different businesses

  • Points & Miles…

    Applied 6 different cc’s within days successfully;
    Then ~40 days later, applied 2 more, both rejected
    due to “too many recent applications”.

    Am approaching Aug 15 which will be 66 days since
    one of those rejects = my 3rd citi Exec Aadv attempt,
    so will give it another try after 8/15…

  • Aum

    Are y’all keeping all these cards open or do you close some from time to time, and if so, when and why? Thanks.

  • Bill

    The impact is diminished after 6 months, and they have no impact after 12 months. TransUnion and Equifax remove them on the 2 year anniversary and Experian removes them after the first full weekend in the 25th month. If that happens to fall on a holiday weekend, it is delayed until the following weekend.

  • Alan

    I’m still trying to reconcile how this all works to have so many cards. It’s not the opening that concerns me. It’s the closing. I’m less concerned with the number if accounts and credit checks. I’m more concerned with average account age. I’m pretty sure my credit score is around 750 and I go to great lengths to protect it.

  • AndrewAbroad

    From my understanding an account still ages when it’s closed until it drops off your account completely. Assuming they’re closed in good standing opening and closing cards only hurts you in the short term but tapers off in the long term (assuming you are opening and closing accounts at the same rate year after year). Losing the line of credit could hurt your utilization, but that can be mitigated. My score is ~760 and I started opening and closing cards about 3 years ago (not as aggressively as most bloggers).

  • AndrewAbroad

    You usually close a card when it has an annual fee (and its due) and the benefits of the card don’t justify the cost. For example I will be closing my Fairmont card when the fee is due because I won’t be utilizing any of its benefits. I’ll be keeping my IHG card because it comes with a free night each anniversary which is worth the $45 annual fee to me.

  • Katherine

    So I think I read that if I am applying for 2 personal cards with chase bank on a tuesday morning and I get them to hard pull before Friday, then it is only considered one hard pull even though there were 2 applications (not the case if one is a business card). My question is… if I already have a different personal chase card and I want to request a CLI (which usually requires a hard pull from chase), will the CLI hard pull also get bundled in with the new personal CC applications? So that I one have one hard pull on account and potentially 2 new CCs and one CLI on my current card.

  • Alan

    So I have to admit that I always just assumed that an account disappeared the moment you cancelled it. I looked everything up, and it would appear that you are correct. That’s good news for me!

    That all being said, I’m not keen on signing up for cards to get bonuses and then canceling them. That would require a heck of a bonus such as the British Airways 100k bonus that pops up from time to time.

    Otherwise, I’d just take on mostly no-fe cards with probably just one (in this case, Chase Sapphire Preferred) that carries an annual fee. That way i could let them sit in a drawer after they’ve been sapped dry. I don’t feel like I pend enough money to support more than one annual-fee card.

    I also recently read an article about downgrading cards to no-annual-fee cards to avoid canceling them, but I’ve never tried it so I don’t know which ones offer it.

  • AlanB

    Does anybody know if this 50,000 mile offer is available for business accounts? I called Chase and they said the United Explorer card isn’t available for business at all, then I emailed my Chase banker and he said it’s available but not through the branch, only on United’s site. I went there and it allowed me to apply under my business, but only the 30K/1K offer showed. There was no phone number to call, just got a message they’d usually decide within 10 days.

  • Andrew G

    Thanks for starting this conversation. I’m new to the points game. Like some others, I’m more worried about average account age as a result of opening multiple cards. My credit history is very short, had a bank issued Visa for 2 years, Chase auto loan for 1 year, and just opened Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, and Citi Platinum Select Mastercard (50k) within 2 weeks. Instant approval for all 3 with CL’s of 12k, 7k, and 8.5k, respectively. I can handle the minimum spend requirements for more cards, but fear that I’ve already significantly impacted my score bc my average account age is about to be shrunk severely. Any advice?

  • markrogo

    “If they are on your report for 2 years then they impact your score for 2 years.”

    No, if the FICO model says they impact your score, they impact your score.

    If it doesn’t say it, they don’t.

  • Chris

    If I downgrade from csp to cs then in two years from receiving the bonus can I reapply for the csp with the cs still open and get bonus or will I need to close the cs first?

  • Graydon

    See Bill’s response above as he eloquently wrote what I was trying to say. My only point of disagreement with what Bill posted is that while the HP might not weigh on your FICOs after 12 months they are still visible to lenders until they drop off for good. For example I was denied a Flex Perks card with US Bank because of the total number of HP in last 24 months (and too much available credit) despite a low number of HP in the past 6 to 12. Might not have effected my FICOs but did cost me the card and also a denial during recon call.

  • Redpanda

    My credit history is 3 years old and I opened 8 cards in a month, my credit score went down by 12 points. Nothing I can’t recover from easily

  • Bill

    In addition to pulling Experian, Equifax or TransUnion (or any combination), some banks like US Bank check ARS and IDA which track credit card applications. It is possible to freeze these 2, but if you don’t, US Bank will see all of your applications for new credit, regardless of which credit bureau they pull.

    Judging from some of the comments here, a lot of people really should do some more research on credit reports and FICO scores before jumping in to churning cards.

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