Should You Apply For Multiple Credit Cards In A Day?

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In this world we learn things from the people that came before us.

I’ve been involved in the miles/points hobby for about a decade now, and even so there are lots of people that came before me.

So when I provide advice it’s partly based on the knowledge that I picked up from others, and partly based on my own experiences.

When it comes to applying for credit cards, one “tip” that has been around for as long as the Loch Ness Monster is that you should apply for multiple credit cards in a day.

But lets dissect this for a minute:

What impact does applying for credit cards have on your credit score?

There are a lot of misconceptions about how credit scores work. Most of the people that I know that aren’t involved in this hobby are convinced that if you apply for five new credit cards the police will knock on your door and take away your house.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

To understand credit scores better, here are the components which make up your credit score:

Credit score breakdown

  • 35% of your score is made up of your payment history
  • 30% of your score is your credit utilization
  • 15% of your score is your credit history
  • 10% of your score is made up of the types of credit you use
  • 10% of your score is your request for new credit

When you apply for a new credit card you get hit with an inquiry, which falls in the category of requests for new credit. You’ll temporarily be dinged 2-3 points on your credit score, though that falls off within two years.

Meanwhile, virtually all the other components of your credit score can improve as a result of applying for a credit card, meaning your credit score can actually go up as a result of applying for more cards. For example, 30% of your credit score is made up of your credit utilization, which is the amount of your available credit you’re using.

Think of it this way. If you have one credit card with a $10,000 credit line and spend $8,000 on it per month, you’re using 80% of your credit.

Meanwhile if you had 10 credit cards with $100,000 of credit lines but were still only spending $8,000 per month, your credit utilization would be only 8%.

When you’re requesting more credit through a new application, which scenario is going to be riskier to the bank?

Obviously the former, since you’re already utilizing so much of your available credit. If you’re utilizing only a small percentage of your credit you’re much lower risk.

Why should you apply for multiple cards in a day?

Or more accurately I should say why does conventional wisdom suggest that you should apply for multiple cards in a day?

The reasons, in theory, are as follows:

  • When you apply for credit cards, the inquiry doesn’t go onto your credit report immediately, so if you apply for five cards at once then none of those issuers will see the impact immediately
  • In some cases, if you apply for multiple cards from the same bank in one day, it may only show up on your credit score as one inquiry

Why applying for multiple cards on one day shouldn’t matter anymore

The reasons for applying for multiple cards in a day were questionable to begin with, but nowadays more than ever there really isn’t any good reason to go out of your way to apply for multiple cards in a day:

One card = one inquiry

As I said above, in the past you’d sometimes get hit with only one inquiry if applying for multiple cards from the same issuer in a day.

There’s no evidence suggesting that’s the case anymore.

Credit reporting is faster than ever

In the past it might have taken a day for inquiries to hit your credit score, though most report that not being the case anymore. It’s almost instant in a vast majority of cases.

You shouldn’t be one credit card application away from being denied

This is really the most important point to me.

If you’re applying for credit cards responsibly and consistently, it really shouldn’t matter when you apply.

That’s because inquiries fall off your report after two years. So whether you apply for one card every month or six cards every six months, it’s the same number of inquiries in the end.

So unless you’re literally one inquiry away from being in the “rejection” range of credit scores — in which case I really think you should reconsider applying for cards — it shouldn’t make a difference.

Why should you spread out credit card applications?

So what are the benefits to spreading out credit card applications?

Spreading out minimum spend requirements

There are some amazing credit card offers out there right now with sizable minimum spend requirements, like the:

And realistically, it’s a lot easier to tackle these cards one at a time in terms of reaching the minimum spend.

Applying for the best offers as they come up

The whole reason behind this post is a question that reader Ang asked regarding the limited time sign-up bonus on the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card & Ink Bold® Business Charge Card.

She wanted to know whether to wait to apply so she could apply for multiple cards at once, or get this one while it still has the higher bonus.

If you’re locked into a “cycle” of applying for chunks of cards every few months, you have less flexibility to take advantage of limited time offers when they come up, so it can make sense to spread applications out.

At the end of the day, twelve new cards a year is still twelve new cards a year – whether you applied for them in batches every 90 days or one every month.

Bottom line

This hobby is constantly evolving.

There’s a lot of great advice out there, though as technology advances and our understanding of credit reporting improves, it makes sense to sometimes stop and reconsider conventional wisdom.

What do you think? Is there any merit to going out of your way to apply for multiple credit cards in a day anymore?

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Comments

  1. You make some valid points, but I’ve read in forums that people were turned down for credit due to too many inquiries in the last 6 months. Wouldn’t it make more sense to group your applications, starting with whichever credit issuer you think would be the toughest, going down to the easiest? That way, you’d at least start with no inquiries in the last 6 months.

  2. I personally have never applied for multiple cards in a single day. That’s not because I was afraid of hits to my credit rating. Instead, my applications always correlate with “spending cycles” so that I am able to quickly and efficiently make any spend requirement. That’s always been the primary variable for me.

  3. @ MisterChristian — For what it’s worth, that’s not an issue I’d ever have. But ultimately the inquiries in the past six months will still show up, most likely. So if I apply for a card now, another in 10 minutes, another 10 minutes later, etc. Chances are the first and second inquiry will show on the pull. It always makes sense to apply with the most difficult card issuer first, but that’s the case whether you apply for a card a month or six cards in a day.

  4. @ Lucky–
    I do think there’s evidence contrasting with your first point (“One card = one inquiry”). I continue to read reports of success with “combined inquiries” with the right combination of cards with the same issuer, and I can report with 100% confidence that I received only one inquiry in January of this year when I applied for the Mercedes-Benz Platinum Amex and the SPG Business Amex on the same day. There is genuine, lasting value to my credit card strategy as a result of that fact.

  5. @Lucky

    How many inquiries would you say put one in the “rejection” range of credit scores, or is it more a number of just having the right FICO/utilization/etc.?

  6. Some valid arguments, but my personal line of thought for applying (mostly) within a single day is that credit score isn’t the only factor in the approval process. For example, another factor is how much credit you have with the particular card issuer you are applying for. These other factors could lead to (initial) denials, which forces you to call reconsideration. Also, there is a difference between a credit inquiry and a new account… the former shows up on your report instantaneously, while the latter may take a few days. While new accounts will help your score eventually, they initially drag down your average age of accounts. Also, if a person is looking at your credit report (as opposed to a formula), they might have more questions regarding new accounts as opposed to inquiries.

    When it comes down to it, there is probably not a one size fits all strategy for everyone.

  7. Truth is, they can go back as far as the inqs stay on the card. I’ve had some quote “one year” to me.

    As lucky says, it’s easier to meet the min spend requirement when you space your apps out

    Besides, some of the better offers don’t come on a predictable schedule, so I’d rather have some room in my Chase portfolio for a “limited time offer” instead of wasting my Chase inqs on some inferior offers and screwing myself out of a better offer it were to come along.

  8. I found out that my previous app-o-ramas made in a single day did make a difference during my mortgage application. When the bank pulled up a credit report, the report collapsed multiple CC inquiries made on a single day into 1. This might only apply for mortgage/car loan applications. YMMV based on the company that prepares the credit report.

  9. I can confirm that for American Express, two cards in the same day will result in only one hard inquiry.

    I already tried this theory twice myself and once for my wife and it works 3/3.

  10. Tell me how can I let the creditors not pulling from Experian? All Amex, Citi, Chase & BoA pull from it…

  11. I believe the credit bureaus are now updating your account in real time – an inquiry just a couple of minutes before now shows up on a credit pull. On my last AOR in April I was turned down my Citi on my third app. The reason was “too many inquiries” but I had only 2 on my last 6 months. I think they new about the 2 others I had just submitted to different banks minutes before. Changes the game for me.

  12. @Diamond Vargas. I don’t believe AMEX grouped your inquiries when you applied for the amex plat benz and spg biz; because SPG is a biz card and it will not show up on your personal credit history. If you look at your credit history, the spg biz account will not show up.

  13. Hilarious. This is nothing more than a veiled attempt to blog the 60K Ink affiliate links, under the guise of offering advice about whether to wait for an AOR, much if which is pure claptrap.

  14. Do people really have trouble meeting minimum spends anymore?

    And the part about 1 card = 1 inquiry is pure bunk. There is plenty of evidence that multiple cards from the same bank only give one inquiry (but watch out for BofA/FIA since they still operate separately when it comes to inquiries). In fact as of last week I got 2 barclays cards and 3 Chase cards, 1 pull each.

  15. @ Jin — personal and business inquiries all show up together in the same lists, for the same duration in the credit reports from each of the three bureaus. You are correct that the ongoing reporting of lines of credit and open accounts show on separate reports, but it is different for inquiries. All of my past business card inquiries have remained showing alongside my personal ones for two years on the reports that I check annually.

  16. Woah, this is completely bs Lucky. People, dont listen to this sham, if your into the points and miles games, ALWAYS apply for multiple cards if you can meet the minimum spend. I just checked my credit report and out of my 6 apps I did last month, theres only 3 inquiries. So yeah they do get bunched together and always apply from banks (e.g Barclays)that are tough on credit first. Wow lucky, your greed knows no bounds, you just wanted a new way to push the 60k links again.

  17. 1. Matt–hell yeah–the spend is the only thing slowing me down (a lot). You have a secret way to spend? I’m all ears.

    2. Why are all you haters even READING this blog if you think L is just pimping ink cards? Just go away or shut up. Geez.

  18. @lucky

    I have been denied a couple times for number of recent inquiries (last 6 months), so to the extent that they might not see that most recent inquiry I still see value in batching. Point taken that if inquiries are showing up in a matter of minutes it still may be for not. Could you point to a source on how fast inquiries are posting now?

  19. @ Argaman – I second that. I did that a while ago and no longer get denied from US Bank.

  20. @Lucky I am surprised about how big of a noob you sounded with this comment: “One card = one inquiry

    As I said above, in the past you’d sometimes get hit with only one inquiry if applying for multiple cards from the same issuer in a day.

    There’s no evidence suggesting that’s the case anymore.”
    There is no evidence??? Have applied for more than one card from the same bank in the same day? Well I have and it shows as only one inquiry. You just proved to me and a lot of churners how way off you are when it comes to CC. Still looking forward to your other aspects.

  21. Lucky, you’ve always done the best that you could for us frequent travelers. Please continue to do the same.

  22. Very helpful input from other readers – glad to hear some cards still show up as one pull. I guess Lucky’s main point was that number of inquiries shouldn’t matter all that much which assumes 1 card = 1 pull.

    Perhaps someone with more experience can do a follow-up/guest post on what cards/issuers do only one pull and which ones show up as multiple pulls.

  23. @T3pleShot
    Hello. How bad did your apps affect your mortgage app? I’m trying to refinance my home(score of 760+)and I am applying for the Slate to do a balance transfer from the Sapphire Preferred and a BofA cc.

  24. @lucky and anyone else with an opinion or personal experience to share – after you have reaped the initial rewards of a signup bonus for a credit card, if the card isn’t one that you plan to use regularly, do you cancel it or just keep it, just in case, or as one more open credit line? The conventional wisdom I’ve heard is that longstanding credit lines should be left open even if not used, as they help a credit score. But I am not sure this goes equally for a card opened a year ago, especially if an annual fee is looming.

  25. Batching has one significant benefit that is somewhat counter to the idea presented here: While 6 inquiries in a year–whether all together or one a month for six months–is still 6 inquiries in the same year, if I apply to them all at the same time, they will also all fall off my CR at the same time. If I spread them out, I will have to wait many more months for the impact of the apps to completely clear. I applied for four cards last November. By this coming November, four apps will fall off. If I had spread them out, I would have nine months of waiting ahead rather than five months.

  26. Though this post is somewhat old, I wanted to provide my experience: I just applied for the USAirways Premier Barclaycard with the 50k bonus today, January 5th. It hit my credit report in about 90 seconds (seriously) after I hit the “apply” button and was approved online. I don’t know if Barclays is just one the ball, but it was almost instantaneously on my credit report. On the plus side, my credit score (798) only dropped one point.

  27. So, if you apply for multiple cards at the same time on one day or two, and got 4 or more approved cards. Would that trigger anything? Will the bank review and close the accounts because of too many new opening accounts or inquiries?

  28. @ Danny — It shouldn’t, assuming you’re otherwise following the rules set by each issuer.

  29. @Matt @mbh

    Uh, yea the minimum spends are something to consider. Do you have hacks for that?
    I can’t use a card to pay my car loans/some bills/rent, and I’m not spending thousands in a month…

  30. So, I decided to test this out today. I applied for Discover ‘It’, Cap One Venture One, Chase Freedom and Amex Gold Delta Skymiles. I was instantly approved by the first three and was told by Amex that they would follow up with me after review. My score was definitely affected- 9 points down within an hour of applying.

  31. So, sorry this might be slightly off topic.
    Here’s my story:
    *I was accepted to grad school off the waitlist less than 2 months ago
    *I’m have to take out the max govt student loans possible
    *i initially had $9000 in cc debt
    *my credit score is around 720
    *i need a new computer ($1500)
    *i have a necessary dental surgery planned ($1500)
    I had no idea I can’t take out a smaller student loan over the COA (cost of attendance) and was convinced by Wells Fargo to apply for a personal loan, which I was denied
    *then I spoke to to a financial advisor at usaa who advised me to apply for a higher credit line with them, which I was also denied
    *then I went to Apple today to apply for their finance plan (0% interest for 18 months-and I’ll have a part time waitressing job to help pay it off)
    I was told they could not make a decision immediately, which I take to mean they are just going to deny me (now for the third time in a week)

    My question is, what is a person to do? I haven’t made inquiries into my credit over the last two years…AT ALL. I’ve improved my score massively over the last 4 years, from a low-mid 600 to a 720, am not delinquent on any accounts.
    I wouldn’t be making inquiries if it weren’t absolutely necessary, but these are the facts and needs I have at this moment in time.

    Again, apologies for going off this specific topic, but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I’m at my wits end.

  32. Now after I wrote that long thing, I realize this may not be the right forum. Thanks anyway for reading.

  33. After reading this article on Tuesday, August 25th, 2015, I decided to try it myself and apply for multiple credit cards/store credit cards in a day. Sorry that its so long, but hopefully its at least a little entertaining/interesting. The cards I owned before this little experiment are as follows:

    Bank Credit Card / CL – $5900
    Chase Amazon / CL – $6000 (was just bumped from 3k to 6k 2 months ago, did not request CLI)
    AMEX Blue Everyday / CL – $2000
    Target RedCard (Not Visa) / CL – $1600 (bumped from 1200 to 1600 2 months ago, did not request)
    Kohls Store Card / CL – $2000 (bumped from 1k to 2k two months ago, again did not request)

    Nothing mind blowing. Ive collected these cards dating back to the early/mid 2000’s so its safe to say that I dont apply for many CC’s, and when I have, they’ve been pretty spaced apart.

    The following credit events took place on August 25th, 2015. Names have been changed to “rep” because I don’t remember the names.

    Card #1:

    So I dont own many, my credit is meh because my utilization is pretty high, around like 80 – 85% but I always pay on time. Ive never requested a credit increase, just never felt the need to. Anyways a couple days ago I wanted something in particular and it cost about $1000 to $1500 and I remembered a walmart MC application I got and that it has a no interest feature for certain lengths of time depending on how much you spend. So in the process of researching, which I tend to do frequently, I happened upon this very article and curiosity got the best of me. Ive been toying with getting the Walmart card for a while and waited because it came with a 25 credit you can use, but can only be used on the day you apply (bogus offer but whatever). I should mention that every once in a great while, the obsessive reviewer in me takes a nap and impulsive me takes the reigns of the keys and clicker. So I pulled the trigger and applied for the Walmart MC and was approved for $1200 CL (Havent called in yet, but Im gonna see if I can get that increased. I havent called for any of the following yet actually, but I will, believe you me) Not a mind blowing limit to start, but to be honest I was expecting around 600 so I wasn’t too upset about it.

    Total credit achieved – $1,200

    Card #2:

    I happened to have a web tab on amazon and was messing with a prime trial earlier and right after completing the Walmart card, noticed a 5% back feature on the amazon store card, or you could opt for a no interest option for purchases over $149. I accidentally applied for an amazon store card a couple years ago and couldn’t remember if I cancelled it. So I called in and spoke with a rep who verified that I had indeed cancelled it shortly after receiving it (meant to apply for the amazon chase card) and I asked if it was possible to reapply. She said I would need to make a new amazon account, no big deal, done and done. Re-applied for the store card and the site said something like call a rep or need to time to review….something like that, so I called in and another rep I talked to at first didnt sound like he had to much confidence in me receiving anything, then I heard him say it went through then I swore he said something about a credit limit and 300. Was sort of bummed, but hey I wasnt denied which is what it sounded like. So I asked just to verify what he said because it wasn’t 100% clear on my end, but seemed clear enough to catch “300”. The rep said “No you’ve been approved for $2300. Ohhhh. Sweet. Thanks, Ill take it.

    Personal Daily Credit Increase Total – $3,500

    Card #3:

    While I had Credit Cards on the brain, I mentioned my good fortune to a family member and got on the subject of high credit utilization on my chase amazon card. He told me about the chase slate card which I had a heard a little about and verified what I had heard about no balance transfer fees. (I know you cant X-fer balances between chase cards, but I could x-fer balances from other cards so that I could pay the amazon one off exclusively) So while still in the state of “let it ride” mode, I filled out the application as quick as I could before sensible me could wake up and slammed my good ol pointer finger on the submit button. I was sure at this point my luck would run out and alas I was told that I needed to wait 30 days or whatever it is to hear back. Didn’t say I was approved, didn’t say I was declined. I decided not to give up, and since I had no where to be, and nothing much to do, I looked up the reconciliation line and decided to give it a shot. The first rep I spoke to said I needed to talk to someone else and gave me a different number, at which point I was fairly certain this was the end of my credit journey. Rep #2 came on, and just as I was about to ask why I was declined followed most certainly by a long winded answer that could be summed up with “because you are dumb”, she asked for my DOB, SS#, and within 5 seconds of giving her both said I was approved for $2000 and wanted to know if I had any questions. I said no a little quicker than intended and decided to say as little as possible to prevent somehow screwing up my current good fortune.

    Personal Daily Credit Increase Total – $5,500

    Card #4:

    At this point I decided to pick a card. After looking at a few I picked one that didnt seem too hard to get, but at the same time wasnt super easy. I landed on the citi double cash card, as their double cash back incentive seemed appealing. So although this one was less eventful, I once again filled out the application which I was starting to get pretty quick at, submitted, waited the long 5 – 10 seconds for the thing to process (Thank god we dont still use 56k modems or my heart would have given out multiple times today) and was told I was approved for $1700. Friggin awesome. I should mention that I realize there are people out there that get significant CL’s off the bat but Im not one of them. Personally anything about $1000 to start is cool by me. So anyways, thus far 4/4 batting 1.000

    Personal Daily Credit Increase Total – $7,200

    Card #5:

    Couldnt say why exactly at this point, might be because I noticed a few things around the house that still needed to be fixed up, and I got the bright idea to apply for a store card. So I did a bit of researching, not obsessive this time, but enough to decide to go for a Lowes Store card. Filled out the application and was approved for $1500.

    Personal Daily Credit Increase Total – $8,700

    Card #6:

    Honestly at this point I thought that doubling my credit card total in a matter of hours seemed a little nerve racking, and sort of half decided that enough was enough. Within about 15 minutes I was researching credit cards again and decided that I liked my everyday blue AMEX card so much that maybe I should apply for another AMEX card. Why not?!? Its just plastic after all. So I went through all the different cards, looked at the rewards programs, looked at the bonus points I could receive for meeting various purchasing thresholds, and landed on the AMEX Everyday card. I had the AMEX Blue card as mentioned previously, and the Everyday one seemed to have some interesting perks if used right. I then remembered at one point saying to myself that maybe I should have gotten the Amex Blue Preferred and had missed out on some solid bonuses by settling for the everyday blue. Not gonna make that mistake again, I aint no sucka. (In this full story, being a sucka is pretty relative) Switched up the application to apply for the Everyday Preferred card, and deep down a part of me seemed pretty certain that I had pushed my luck and that there was no way I was walking away with this preferred card. Probably should have stuck with the regular one, might have had a chance at getting that one at least since apparently its easier to get approved for. Way to go me. I looked up at my screen after hanging my head in shame and read that I was approved for $3300. Ja-what? I blinked a couple times because I wasn’t expecting anything more than $1200 let alone anything at all except an out of order sign, but I was not hallucinating and had indeed had been approved for my sixth card of the day.

    Personal Daily Credit Increase Total – $12,000

    I applied for a seventh card, but received the “expect to hear back soon” and was unable to speak with anyone on the reconciliation line due to it closing. I decided not to try for another one, although I will still call the reconciliation line tomorrow just to check. So my journey ends with 4 Credit cards, 2 Store cards, and $12,000 of additional credit. Fairly significant for me. Time to go buy something expensive. Maybe two expensives.

  34. @Greg
    Damn son – what a ride. You went crazy there. Congrats on the new CC’s! Don’t go too crazy though – Don’t want to keep up that 85% utilization on the new plastic.

    What I’d like to know is how this effects your credit score. Do you see the multiple inquiries? Will your credit score drop? You’ll probably have to wait another month or so to see what comes of it.

    BTW – have you set up a Credit Karma account? If not, it’s very worth it. Lots of great features and you get a new credit score every week. Great tool.

    Best of luck with the new cards – though not too lucky 😉

  35. Here’s info from the FICO web set on multiple applications same day. They tend to ding you less if it’s an application that is for rate shopping (i.e. car, house, personal) vs a new CC (at least that’s my reading of it).
    http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/creditchecks/inquiries.aspx
    No. Research has indicated that FICO Scores are more predictive when they treat loans that commonly involve rate-shopping, such as mortgage, auto and student loans, in a different way. For these types of loans, FICO Scores ignore inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your scores while you’re rate shopping. In addition, FICO Scores look on your credit report for rate-shopping inquiries older than 30 days. If your FICO Scores find some, your scores will consider inquiries that fall in a typical shopping period as just one inquiry. For FICO Scores calculated from older versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 14 day span. For FICO Scores calculated from the newest versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 45 day span. Each lender chooses which version of the FICO scoring formula it wants the credit reporting agency to use to calculate your FICO Scores.

  36. 1 card does not necessarily equal 1 inquiry. Here was my experience:

    The cards I had before the applications & their limits were as follows:
    Delta Gold SkyMiles Amex – $6500
    Regular old CapitalOne card with no rewards – $6500
    Express Card – $150

    Between September 23-25, I applied for the following 3 cards and was approved:
    Chase Sapphire Preferred – $7000
    Citi Hilton HHonors – $13000
    Starwood Preferred Guest – $6500

    I tripled my available credit in a matter of days. I checked credit karma expecting to lose ~10 points or so due to the inquiries. I dropped 2 points in Transunion and maybe 3 in Experian. On top of that only ONE inquiry showed up for each credit bureau! That stands even now. 3 credit cards, 3 different issuers within a 3-day period, one recorded inquiry per credit bureau.

    I think it does pay to apply to multiple cards within a short period of time.

  37. I applied for 12 cards in 24 hour period and got approved for 10 and since deference creditors check specific reports they got evenly split so I have 3-4 inquiries on each report and it doesn’t look bad after all

  38. Sooooo….. if I wanted to do multiple applications to simply acquire as much unsecured credit as possible so as to withdraw and utilize all available credit and then change phone number and address would this route be advised?

    Yes, I mean to hijack as much credit as possible and not pay one red cent.

    What does everyone think of such an adventure?

  39. What if you have 2 or more computers and run applications at the same time, then hit the “submit” button exactly at the same time on all the computers? Will that mean you’re more likely to be accepted by all of them?

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