In What Order Should You Apply For Credit Cards?

In What Order Should You Apply For Credit Cards?

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There are lots of amazing credit cards out there, in terms of the welcome offers, perks, return on spending, etc. Even those of us who have been maximizing our credit cards for a long time don’t necessarily have all the cards we’d like to have.

So I thought it would be interesting to address in what order it makes sense to apply for credit cards. In other words, if there are five cards you’re interested in, how should you decide which to apply for first? Admittedly there’s not a single right or wrong answer, perhaps other than “whatever makes you happy.” But I do think there’s a general thought process to go through when you decide which cards to apply for.

Here’s the general order in which I’d recommend applying for cards:

1. Cards with restrictive eligibility requirements

Credit card issuers have all kinds of different rules when it comes to being approved for cards. So the first thing I consider is whether my next credit card application would impact my ability to get other cards in the future.

For example, there’s the Chase 5/24 rule, whereby you typically won’t be approved for a Chase card if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. So if I definitely wanted to pick up a Chase card, I’d make sure that’s the next card that I apply for, rather than getting over that limit and making myself ineligible for Chase cards in the future.

There can even be strategy here if you want to pick up two Chase cards. Chase business cards are subjected to the 5/24 rule, but business cards don’t count as further cards toward that total.

In other words, if you were at 4/24, you could apply for the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) and then the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review). However, the inverse wouldn’t be possible.

Consider credit card eligibility restrictions

2. Cards with relevant spending requirements

While there are lots of great credit card welcome offers out there, the spending requirements to unlock the bonuses can vary significantly. For example, with some cards you may earn the bonus after completing a single purchase, while other cards may require $10,000+ worth of spending.

So I’d recommend prioritizing applications based on your projected upcoming spending patterns. For example, some people might be doing a home renovation or paying school tuition by credit card, in which case it could be a good time to pick up a card with a big spending requirement, which you may not otherwise be able to complete.

3. Cards with promotional welcome bonuses

If you’ve been following the credit card industry for a while, you’re probably familiar with the “normal” offers on credit cards. The next thing I’d consider is making sure you apply for a card when it’s offering an increased bonus that’s better than usual. This could earn you lots more points.

Maximize rewards by picking up a card with a promotional offer

4. Cards with anniversary perks every year

Of the credit cards I have, there are some cards that I have specifically for the perks that they offer. For example, the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card (review) offers an anniversary free night certificate, which more than justifies the annual fee, in my opinion (and the card has lots of other great benefits as well).

I like to prioritize applying for cards that offer valuable annual benefits. That’s because the longer you wait to apply, the longer until you can start taking advantage of these benefits. Exact details of the welcome bonus aside, I tend to think cards that have perks that more than justify the annual fee are worth getting sooner rather than later.

The IHG card offers an anniversary free night award

5. Cards with rewards you value short term

Everyone takes a different strategy to collecting miles & points. Some people start applying for credit cards when they have a specific trip and/or goal in mind, while others just apply for cards with good offers and then later decide what they’re going to do with them.

So my tiebreaker with deciding which card to apply for would be considering my short term travel goals. In other words, am I eying an award redemption at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives? Then I might prioritize earning Hilton Honors points. Want to redeem for Emirates first class? Then I’d prioritize earning some transferable points currencies.

Consider your upcoming travel goals

Bottom line

There are a lot of things to consider when deciding how to prioritize credit card applications. Personally I first consider cards with restrictive eligibility requirements, then cards that meet my upcoming spending patterns, then cards with promotional welcome bonuses, then cards with anniversary perks, and then cards that match my short term travel goals.

What’s your approach to deciding in which order to apply for credit cards?

Conversations (5)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    It depends on your situation and your habits or lifestyle/how you redeem or use the rewards. For example, if you are young and new at the points and miles game then you will have a different strategy than others, so I do not agree with this article and how it is presented.

  2. TravelinWilly Diamond

    Ben - You had suggested some time ago that Credit Karma was a good site to use when looking for a list of card opening dates. That no longer works.

    Do you know of another site that can show that consolidated information?

    1. The Joe Guest

      Why doesn't that work? Still shows when I look.
      Clicked credit, details, accounts, then clicked the account I wanted to know about.

    2. socialmagnet New Member

      This still works, you just have to click in a few more times.
      You go into the specific report, view full report, and in the resulting dropdown it shows the opening date.

  3. Razzak Memon Guest

    I usually apply for the American Airlines cards so I can earn miles and attain status via manufactured spend. When i was growing up in Abbotabad we never had these opportunites to milk, we only had goats.

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iamhere Guest

It depends on your situation and your habits or lifestyle/how you redeem or use the rewards. For example, if you are young and new at the points and miles game then you will have a different strategy than others, so I do not agree with this article and how it is presented.

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socialmagnet New Member

This still works, you just have to click in a few more times. You go into the specific report, view full report, and in the resulting dropdown it shows the opening date.

0
The Joe Guest

Why doesn't that work? Still shows when I look. Clicked credit, details, accounts, then clicked the account I wanted to know about.

0
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