Applying for a credit card can be a great way to build your credit score. But does applying for a credit card hurt your credit? The answer is yes, it will hurt it temporarily. As soon as you apply, your credit score will drop by a few points because it brings more hard inquiries into the mix. That said, the drop is typically only temporary and shouldn’t affect your ability to get approved for future loans or lines of credit.
One credit card application can ding your score by just a few points, but multiple applications could raise red flags for lenders and drag down your credit score accordingly.
Length of credit history
The length of credit history is the number of months you have had credit accounts open and active. The longer you have had an account, the more positive information it provides to lenders and credit bureaus. This means that if you are looking to apply for a new line of credit, it may be worth waiting until your oldest account is at least one year old before applying.
Number of inquiries
Applying for a credit card is one of the most common ways to damage your credit score. While it may seem obvious that using your credit card will lead to an inquiry about your ability to pay back debt, many people don’t realize that this also occurs any time you apply for a loan or open a new line of credit. This can be especially damaging when combined with other factors like late payments and high balances on existing accounts.
Types of credit used
When you apply for a credit card, you’re essentially borrowing money from the bank. Your credit score determines how much of a risk you are to take on more debt. If your score is low, it means that you have poor spending habits and have difficulty paying back what you owe. This can make it hard for banks to trust that you will pay them back if they lend money to you in any capacity—including with a new credit card.
Amounts you owe on credit cards and other debt
There are two ways credit card accounts can impact your credit score:
- Your debt-to-credit ratio. This is the amount of total revolving debt you’re carrying divided by your total available revolving credit. If this ratio is too high, it will hurt your score.
- Delinquencies and collections. Most people have at least one late payment in their history—the trick is to keep them out of serious delinquency and off collection agencies’ radar for as long as possible if you need to pay them down quickly.
Paying all bills on time is the most important aspect of your credit score.
If you have a credit card, make sure you only use it for emergencies and then pay off the balance in full every month.
If you don’t have debt and can’t afford to pay off a large purchase in full every month, avoid applying for new cards until you are able to do so responsibly.
If you want to improve your credit score, you can start by applying for a new credit card. It’s true that applying for a new credit card will cause an inquiry on your credit report and may lower your score slightly in the short term. But if you use the card responsibly and pay off the balance each month — then over time your score should bounce back up again.
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