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How long should you wait in between credit card applications?

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

Every time you apply for a credit card, the lender will check your report, leaving a mark behind. If you make too many applications at once, it can seem as though you’re 'credit hungry', which might put lenders off.

Generally, it’s best to leave at least three months in between credit card applications. If you can wait longer than six months - even better.

When you apply for a credit card, lenders look at your credit file to help them decide if you're creditworthy. If they perform a hard search, it'll be recorded on your file for other lenders to see.

Applying for too many credit cards in a short space of time will decrease your score and indicate to lenders that you're struggling to manage your finances.  Hard enquiries stay on your credit file for six years.

If you’re thinking of applying for a credit card, use an eligibility checker first. Eligibility checkers only perform a soft search. Soft searches are a more basic check of your file, and they won't show up on your report. They'll give you an indication of whether you'd be accepted. However, this isn't definite, and when you come to make a proper application, you'll then be subject to a hard check.

Using an eligibility checker first will indicate if it’s a good idea to apply for that credit card.

What happens if I apply again before three months?

Applying again within three months will leave another record on your file, adding to the previous searches and reducing your score even further.

What should I do if my application gets declined?

If your credit application gets declined, then you should check your credit report to see if you can identify why.

It could be that:

  • your current address isn’t up to date
  • you have a missed payment on your credit file
  • you’re financially associated with someone else who has bad credit
  • you've used more than 25-30% of your credit, also known as credit utilisation.

It may just simply be the case that you didn't fit the profile the lender was looking for. For example, some lenders may want someone who has a specific income - this is where eligibility checkers come in handy.

Once you’ve checked your credit file, you can take action to improve your score. It could take a while to see your score improve, so you should give it time before reapplying.

Before you apply again, recheck your credit file to see if you're in a stronger position to avoid rejection.

Check your credit file with each credit reference agency: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can check your credit report for free with our member-only platform, CredAbility.

How to improve your score

While you're waiting to reapply, there are a few things you can do to improve your credit score, such as:

  • making sure you’re on the electoral roll at your current address
  • continuing to make regular payments to existing credit agreements
  • addressing any errors on your credit file
  • disassociating from anyone you used to have a joint financial account with - if it’s closed
  • keeping your credit utilisation around 25-30%
  • checking your credit file regularly.

Read more about improving your credit score.

Credit builder products

When you're ready to reapply for a credit card, you could consider a credit builder card if your score is low or your credit history isn’t great. Credit builder credit cards help people with bad credit improve their score.

A credit builder card is only helpful if you use it correctly. You’ll need to make your payments on time, every time to improve your score. Continuously making your payments on time will help build a positive picture of yourself to a future lender. If you miss any payments, your score will be adversely affected.

Credit builder cards usually have high-interest rates and low credit limits. Check they’re right for you before applying and that you can afford the repayments every month.

Find out where you can go for advice on debt.

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

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