When is the best time to apply for a credit card?

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If you’re looking to apply for a new travel rewards credit card, you’ve come to the right place because we have the secret to scoring a new card. All you need to do is follow this one simple tip: get a credit card is whenever there’s a great intro offer (like the 100,000-point bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card!) and you can guarantee you’ll meet the spending requirements for the welcome bonus.

That’s it! Besides that, there isn’t any real strategy on when you should apply for a credit card. And your odds of being approved aren’t truly impacted by applying on a specific date or at a particular time. All you need to do is meet that minimum spending requirement, and here’s how you’ll do it.

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6 best times to apply for a credit card

Tax season

Another time we’re spending a lot of money is during tax season. It’s undoubtedly a less fun reason to spend than the holiday season, but it’s a necessity nonetheless. By applying for a new card before tax season and then paying your taxes on that card shortly after, you’ll work your way up to the minimum spending requirement fast.

Once you earn the welcome bonus, it’ll be like some of that tax money is already back in your pocket!

Planning a vacation

As much as we love to travel at Million Mile Secrets, we know it does get costly (unless you’re using points and miles, of course!) But, if you don’t have quite enough points and miles saved up to book your trip, or you’re just starting out in the hobby, you’ll need to pay for your vacation with money instead.

Using a new credit card to pay for vacation will get you to the minimum spending bonus and, as the case with a lot of cards, will probably rack you up some travel rewards too so that you can start planning your next vacation even sooner.

End of year for Black Friday and Holiday shopping

Let’s face it, many of us spend a little too much money during the holiday season. November and December are typically months filled with holiday gifts, travel, special events and dining out. Getting a new credit card during this time is an easy way to make the holiday purchases count and ensure you’re meeting your minimum spending requirement. 

Plus, several credit cards come with excellent ongoing benefits that renew each calendar year. For example, many have statement credits you can earn twice in the first year you have the card before paying the annual fee a second time. Getting a card at the end of the year near the holiday season means you can cash in on annual benefits twice before paying the fee twice. 

For an upcoming move

Moving to a new place is the start of a new chapter in your life, which makes it the perfect time to get a new credit card, too. Using your new card to pay for moving expenses like transportation of your things, new furniture, and tips for the movers (even if that means buying a pizza for your friends) is an easy way to meet your minimum spending requirement.

Start of a college semester

Even though dorm rooms are small, filling them up can be pretty expensive. Starting college means buying new (twin) bedding, school supplies, storage bins, clothes, and about a thousand other things for your home away from home. Apply for a credit card at the start of a college semester, especially your first college semester ever, and you’ll be able to hit the minimum spending requirement with your eyes closed. 

Planning a big event

There are so many significant events throughout our lives that it can seem like after you plan one, another is already on the horizon. Whether that be a graduation party, a wedding, a birthday bash, or a retirement party doesn’t matter. All of these events have two things in common: they’re fun, and they’re costly.

Apply for a credit card before your next big event, and you’ll probably be able to meet the spending minimum almost instantly. Plus, the welcome bonus will help offset the cost after your event is over so that you can spend more on the next one!

Applying on a particular date doesn’t impact your chances of approval, but here are a few things that do:

Know the rules

Application rules by issuer

Frustrating but true, banks are known to adjust the rules to get a new credit card, especially when it comes to travel cards with lucrative bonuses. For example, Chase has the 5/24 rule, which means they won’t approve you if you’ve opened more than five cards with any bank in the last 24 months. Similarly, you can only earn the bonus on each American Express card once per lifetime. And, Citi won’t give you a sign-up bonus if you’ve opened or closed an account with the same brand of cards in the last 24 months

Knowing the rules will help you know if you should even apply in the first place. 

Maintain a good credit score

Your credit score is the main thing that determines if you’ll get approved for a card or not. Your credit score is based on several factors, including things like the age of your accounts, payment history and debt owed.

Having a good credit score is key to getting approved for most cards, and the bigger and better the card is, the higher your score typically needs to be. If your credit score isn’t great, consider waiting until you can bring it up before applying for a new card. And, if you don’t know your score at all, sites like Credit Karma will help you for free.

Don’t take no (or maybe) for an answer

But, with all of that being said, banks are businesses at the end of the day. They want you to be their customer and to open an account with them. So, if your application is declined, you can call the bank’s reconsideration line and ask for another shot at getting the card. 

The worst they can do is say no, so it’s always worth trying to ask again. 

Bottom line

There isn’t any particular date, time, or day of the week that’s most likely to get you approved. In reality, the best time to apply is when you can meet the minimum spending requirement to earn the car’s welcome bonus. The times it’s easiest to do that is usually during significant life events or at high spending times of the year. Next time you find yourself in one of those stages, consider getting a new credit card. You’ll watch the money you spent end up back in your pocket in no time!

Alexandra Maloney is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where she covers points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel. She's worked as a writing consultant for the University of Richmond and is a features writer for The Collegian UR.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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