A Mandatory Waiting Period to Apply for Credit Cards?

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credit card waiting period

Should New People Wait to Apply?

I talk to a lot of people who are new to this hobby both online and in person when I attend conferences like this past weekend’s Family Travel for Real Life. Through those interactions I have learned a few things about their behaviors.

One of the common things they tell me is how they jumped in head first. They normally then follow that up with a comment about how they may have moved a little too fast. How they should have read and studied more before applying for a bunch of credit cards.

See: Slow & Steady Doesn’t Make You a Loser

I can’t tell you how often someone relatively new writes in with a question about an upcoming trip they are planning. When I respond to ask for their balances, the results are scary. 20k miles here, 15k points there. In other words, many thousands, but not enough in any one program to get them anywhere.

Most people jump in to this hobby without a plan. Having thousands of points and miles is nice, but they are only as valuable as your redemptions. Everyone including myself has “trapped” points in one program or another, because we jumped on a deal without thinking. It is perhaps the most common mistake.

So that brings me to the title of this post. Should there be a mandatory waiting period before applying for credit cards? Of course I am not talking about a government mandate, but more of a personal one. Perhaps the use of the word mandatory is poor. How about a voluntary waiting period?

Why You Should Wait

If you are new, there are so many factors to consider before applying for one or a dozen credit cards. You must consider which banks to apply at, which loyalty programs to target and how these applications affect your credit?

Of course there are also a ton of little things to learn like how each bank treats applications and how many cards you can get from each. How about reconsideration or the credit score needed for each product. These are all things I could generally tell you off the top of my head, but can be difficult for newer people to find.

An Example

My wife just received a 75k offer in the mail for the American Express Business Gold Rewards card. Definitely a great offer, but we recently applied for a lot of cards, so I am not quite ready to pull the trigger. What should I do?

In the past I might have jumped on it right away, but now I am able to see that waiting is the right move. The application is good through April, so now I can wait and incorporate it into a larger plan. I am always studying offers and formulating a plan going forward. Nowadays every application has some strategic importance.

Resources

The great thing about this hobby is that we are a community. Of course there are what some people refer to as the “angries”, but for the most part people are willing to help as long as you are willing to do some work as well.

Many bloggers are also willing to help. I am one of them. You can email me anytime at shawn@milestomemories.com and I will respond as quickly as possible. If it is a really intricate question it may take a day or two, but for something quick and simple I try to get back very quickly.

Conclusion

If you are new or newer, I highly suggest waiting before applying for a bunch of credit cards. Most of the offers available aren’t going to go away if you wait a day or two, so you won’t miss out. Instead, by waiting, you may just find that you will get much more return on your applications and avoid stranded points.

So now I turn this to you? Do you think newer people should wait until they have had time to learn and study the hobby? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

Miles to Memories operates under the Value for Value model. If you receive value from this site, find out how you can provide value back.

20 COMMENTS

  1. I jumped right in and since this past november I have a SW companion pass, I have 40k points on BA+ 56k pts SPG Amex points, and 60K UR (Ink) Not bad. :p Sometimes jumping in is a good thing.

  2. @Shawn –

    So, we typically follow a strategic ‘family plan.’

    We study and discuss our proposed credit card applications and once we have finalized that plan we apply to each one on the same day in the shortest amount of time. We figure that even credit pulls are not ‘real-time’ so the other banks are not ‘aware’ of our other applications in a such a short amount of time as to limit our ability to get approvals compared to if we apply over a period of days or weeks…

    With the latter method, credit card companies would see these applications as a methodical pattern and (we think) less likely to approve progressive applications.

    What do you think Shawn?

    • Recent evidence suggests the banks can see the inquires in real time. I no longer apply in that manner, however if it is working for you then I think it is fine. In my opinion there is no right or wrong method as long as you do your research. Thanks John!

      • That’s an interesting observation Shawn, and thanks for the cautionary post — good reminders and will save for friends & family, new to the “hobby”….

        If I understand you comment correctly, you’re suggesting that the widely mentioned strategy of doing more than one cc application on a day, if spaced out more than 95 days, is no longer a winner? I don’t follow trends as close as you, but perhaps you could clarify what the “recent evidence” does suggest…. and what your own application strategy of late is — in light of the “recent evidence.” Perhaps this might be fodder for a new post — or maybe I missed on since March.

  3. Your credit score determines your approach IMO. I received my 1st reward CC in September, 2013. I had just discovered miles & points so I didn’t know about zombie hidden links. The card was 30K US Air. I learned very quickly by reading every blog possible. After some time you sort out what blogs are mandatory reads daily, that give you the info you must have. Miles to Memories is a daily goto blog. That said, I do not do app-o-ramas. I wait for exceptional offers.
    100K AA, 140K Ritz, two 50K Southwest for companion pass, etc.. Between my Wife and I, over the last 17 months we have accumulated well over 2,000,000 miles & points. I take advantage of portal winners like Sears 10x gift cards, 1800flowers killer deals, etc.. I have more miles & points than I can use, but I can go anywhere in the world I care to go …. 1st class. Now the challenge is how to get more time off from work to use the booty.

    • These are links that offer a better bonus than the public offer. You find these links by reading the blogs. Sometimes the links do not stipulate what miles or points you will get w/ the applications. You must rely on posts from people who have had success w/ the link. I’ve used these links for different card apps and gotten 10K to 20K more miles and points compared to the public offer. Sometimes better offers can be had by applying @ a bank branch compared to the on-line offer. Also, if your partner or friends get cards that you have, make sure to check and see if there is a referral bonus. I just received 10K for referring my Wife for a card I have.

    • A zombie link is a non-public link that has been found and still works. For example today the Amtrak credit card links disappeared from Chase’s page, but a couple of links have been found that still work. These are zombie links.

  4. I just started this hobby back in September. gave myself a crash course by doing nothing but reading flyer talk for two straight weekends. I was cross-eyed by the end but it allowed me to come up with a great credit card application strategy and I was pretty successful because I have a few cards that people have told me are hard-ish to get (ie: a 2nd US Air Card, Arrival+ (3 open Barclays Cards), Ink Plus, Club Carlson (top-tier) etc. in just 6 short months I have over 100k AA miles, 100k ultimate reward pts, over 250k US Air miles (and Gold Status), ~75k arrival pts, 175k IHG pts, 100k hhonors, 125k marriott and other balances 50k or less.

  5. I applied for Barclays US Airways mastercard last December, when can I apply for the same card again? Do i need to cancel the first one?

    • Generally it has been best to never have more than 2 Barclay’s cards open and to apply no more than every 6 months. That gives you the best chance for instant approval. Some people have had success outside of those rules, however a lot of people have been denied.

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