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TPG reader Luis tweeted me to ask:
“@thepointsguy- I just got approved for a credit card. When can I apply for another one?”
I’ve said it time and time again, but credit card bonuses are probably the most lucrative and easiest way to bring in tons of points and miles. A 60 second application online (and meeting spending requirements) can score you a free ticket to Europe. Some people have to fly all over the world multiple times to get that many miles, but you can do it in seconds in the comfort of your own home. If you pay your bills on time you’ll have more available credit, you can get more cards, and your credit score can actually go up. So, if you play this game right, you can travel well, earn lots of points and miles, and maintain the integrity of your credit score. Just make sure to pay your bills on time so you don’t accrue any interest or debt.
The trick is knowing when to apply for a card if you’ve recently been approved for one, and this really depends on the card issuer. If you’ve applied for a card from one issuer and would like to apply for another with that same issuer, I would recommend waiting about three months before doing so. Some banks are more strict than others, so that three months is an approximation. There are no real steadfast rules for this; knowing when to apply is really all about trial and error.
You may even get declined, but you can always call and speak with a credit analyst about why you think you should be approved. If you understand the perks of the card, you can better explain why you might need it sooner rather than later. For example, you might bring up that the card you applied for has no foreign transaction fees if you’re a frequent international traveler, or you could talk up a category spending bonus if you spend a lot on, say, dining or office supplies. You can also talk with the analyst about how you might shift spending away from another bank/card to their card, or an amount of money you plan to spend on the card to hit a bonus or perk. Have them look at your credit report as well, assuming you’ve been paying your bills on time. Basically, you want to illustrate that you’ll be a valuable customer, and the more ways you can find to do that, the better your chances of being approved.
I understand the desire to apply for many cards at once to reap the rewards, but don’t overdo it. Only apply if you know you can pay the bills off and manage all your payments. I know–I’ve got 25 different cards and coordinating payments can often be tricky. Make sure you have a system in place; start off small, and then you can slowly scale it up.
In conclusion, I suggest doing a couple applications for different banks every few months or so. I’ve been using that strategy for years now and I continue to get approved.