Apply for a Credit Card – Best Time and Worst Time

apply for a credit card

Best Time and Worst Time to Apply for a Credit Card

When people think of timing being everything, a credit card is low on the list. With so many other things on your mind, your credit can wait. Right? Unfortunately, timing is critical with it comes to applying for credit cards. So when is the best time to apply for a credit card?

Applying at a bad time or putting off applying can take a long time to fix. We’re going to make sure that your timing is perfect. We’ll give you both good and bad times to apply for credit cards. This will help you start building your credit the right way.

Eight Best Times to Apply for a Credit Card

1. You Have a Preapproval List of Cards

Your credit takes a small hit each time you apply for a credit card. While this is typically only a few points, they can add up quickly. Banks can usually give you your preapproval odds for certain credit cards. Also, it helps if you’ve had an active account in good standing. They will usually give you your preapproval odds in a few minutes plus a list of cards. So you can compare the credit cards and find the one that suits your needs.

2. You’ve Turned 18

Ideally, you want to start building your credit as early as possible. This will give you a solid foundation to build up your score. Your credit history length counts for around 15-percent of your FICO credit score. You do want to have a stable income and use it wisely though. Also, switch to a lower interest card as soon as you can. Your first credit card will most likely have a higher rate and stricter terms.

3. You’ve Compared Cards

Not all credit cards are the same, and this is why you want to shop around. So you want to compare interest rates, terms, contracts, balances, and more. Do you want rewards for using your cards? Perhaps you want a no-frills and basic credit card for emergencies. Either way, comparing the different credit cards ensures that you’ll get one that matches your spending habits.

4. You’re Repairing Your Credit

Maybe you had a bankruptcy or got behind on your payments due to a medical issue. Your credit can take a huge hit if this is the case. A credit card is a useful tool for repairing or rebuilding your bad credit. You do want to pay attention to interest rates and terms though. You’ll typically have to get a secured card or a card with a high interest rate at first. This is because you’re now a higher risk. Compare the top three secured credit cards to find a low fee credit card for repairing bad credit.

5. You Have Good Credit

Do you have fair credit but not good credit? A good credit card can help push your credit up a few points. With responsible use, you may even break into excellent credit territory. As always, you do want to keep your credit utilization ratio even. It’s also important to pay off your debt and keep good records.

6. You Need to Consolidate Debt

There are credit cards that can help you pay off your balances without paying interest. If you can pay off your debt within 12 or 18 months, consider one of these balance transfer cards. These cards usually have an introductory APR offer of 0-percent for a set amount of months. Anything you pay in this time will be your balance without any additional interest charges.

7. You Need to Add Variety or Credit Mix to Your Credit Report

Banks and investors like to see a variety of accounts or a credit mix on your credit history. This includes things like loans, credit cards, and other revolving accounts. If you don’t have a credit card, it may be worth it to open one. You could even use it for a small monthly subscription if you don’t want to use it for everyday use. As long as you pay it off every month, it’ll help your credit.

8. You’re Buying a Big Item

You may think that buying a big item on a credit card is a bad idea. This entirely depends on the card in question. For example, some cards offer no interest for a set period. You could buy your item buy now and pay later and pay it off during the grace period. Doing this can potentially save you hundreds in interest costs. It can also help you get a bonus for opening your card if the card offers one.

Five Best Times to Avoid Applying for a Credit Card

1. You Have Large Existing Balances

Creditors look at your available credit compared to your debt levels. If you have large balances, don’t open another credit card. This is a quick way to get too deep into debt. It can damage your credit quickly. Additionally, it can make lenders wary of giving you a loan or a line of credit.

2. You Plan to Apply for a Mortgage or Large Loan

Is a new mortgage or a large loan on the horizon? If it’s coming in the next six months, don’t open a credit card. You lose a few points and get a temporary drop each time you apply for a credit card. This could potentially hurt your chances of getting your loan or mortgage. It’s especially true if you’re right between “good” and “great” credit scores.

3. You’ve Lost Your Job

Credit is not a good idea if you have no means to pay it back. Many people make this mistake and charge thousands to their cards if they don’t have the cash. You’ll end up paying hundreds or thousands more than you really spend due to interest. Make sure you have a steady job and emergency fund before you apply for a credit card. This way you’ll ensure you can pay it each month.

4. You’re Impulsively Applying

Maybe you want a credit card, and you don’t want to research. You impulsively sign up for a few different credit cards. This is a bad decision that could impact your finances and put you in debt. Each credit card has different interest rates and maximum credit lines. The last thing you want to do is end up with a card that doesn’t suit your spending habits.

5. You’re Living Outside of Your Means

Credit cards are not a good way to support your lifestyle. So you’ll pay what you owe plus interest. If you’re already having trouble paying your bills, credit can make it worse. You’ll get yourself into a hole that you can’t get out of. If it gets bad enough, you could declare bankruptcy. This could last up to seven years.

Bottom Line When You Apply for a Credit Card

Finally, applying for a credit card takes timing and planning. You do want to do your research. Researching will allow you to compare different credit cards. It’ll help ensure that you match your credit card to your lifestyle. In turn, you should see your credit start to rise and move in the right direction.

Monica Kowollik

Director at CreditFast.com
Monica has covered credit card and personal finance news for over 15 years. From an early age, she developed an interest in financial literacy and saving money. Monica hopes to help others to improve their personal finances one article at a time.

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