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Since there are benefits to sign up for multiple credit cards at one time versus signing up for them separately over a period of time, I am going to go over some general steps to take when preparing for multiple credit card applications.

One of the major reasons to apply for several cards at once is to minimize credit inquiries reported to your credit score. When a credit bureau, say Experian, receives multiple credit inquiries in one day, it is likely that the they will turn multiple credit inquiries into only one hard pull. This is beneficial to you because it negates the impact of multiple inquiries to your credit score.

Another advantage to apply for multiple cards at once is that it increases your chances of approval. Other banks will likely not be aware of other credit card applications if they are all done at the same time. This increases your likelihood of approval since there will not be many recent credit inquiries.

One of the main reasons I prefer to apply for credit cards in an ‘Application-O-Rama’ to keep all of my cards minimum spends and bonuses revolving around the same general date. I stay organized by setting up an Excel spreadsheet of all the cards that I apply and are approved, then input the minimum spend amount and date I have I need to reach it by. I also include a column for the annual fee (if there is one,) as well as the payment due date which I always change to the same date for all my cards. This keeps things simple and consistent, so not to get confused with payment dates.

Example of ece

Example of a chart to track an AOR

Before launching an AOR there are some important steps to take to insure it is a success. Here is a list of things to consider before applying for multiple cards.

Check and monitor credit score

I monitor my credit score using Credit Sesame, Quizzle, or Credit Karma before and during an AOR. You should have a credit score of at least 700 to apply for multiple credit card sign-up bonuses, and having no more than three recent credit inquiries is generally what I go by. With that being said, there are many variables that the credit card company takes into consideration when approving you for a credit card. These are just some general numbers that I usually go by before I apply for multiple credit cards.

Inventory what credit cards you have and can cancel ones you don’t need

Before applying for new credit cards I like to open up my wallet and inventory all active credit cards. Some good questions to help evaluate which cards are useful to you are:

– Are the perks/benefits of each card worth more than the annual fee? Do I want to pay the annual fee again for the next year if the first year was free?

– Can I get similar benefits from a different card that offers a good sign-up bonus?

– How long have I had the card? If the card is one of your older cards, is it worth keeping to extend the history of the account?

Taking a look at what cards you currently have helps narrow down which sign-up bonuses to go for. I like to apply for a card that fills a gap in benefits that I currently do not have from my current cards or similarly, cancel a card and apply for a card that will give me similar benefits all while netting a sign-up bonus.

 After you decide which cards to keep and which to cancel, it is time to look at the best current offers available. Narrow them down to the top three to seven cards. Ultimately, the number of new cards I decide to apply for depends on the current offers available, my credit standing and recent activity, and how much I can spend to reach the minimum spend requirements for each sign-up offer.

Decide which top sign-up offers to apply for

 When I choose a particular sign-up bonus there are a few things that I take into consideration. Of course these may vary depending on your own goals, spending habits, and travel preferences.

– Does it offer a bonus over 50,000 miles or points?

This is my general cutoff for a ‘great’ sign-up bonus. Since there are so many amazing and lucrative sign-up bonusing and they are ever changing, I never find it hard to round up several with a bonus greater than 50,000.

– Is the offer likely to disappear in the near future?

 If there is a card that will net some points that will not be available in the future, it is a good idea to get it now. This allows your to earn some points on a product before its going. Many times banks only allow you earn a sign-up bonus on a credit card product once. I recently applied for the Barclays US Airways MasterCard for 35,000 miles solely for the reason that this card will most likely soon be gone, and that the miles will be added to my American Airline miles account.

– Does the card offer new benefits and perks that I currently do not have?

If a card offers a benefit that you currently do not have there is more reason to get a card that you will actually benefit from using it. These include elite status, free checked bags, lounge access, better rental car insurance coverage, and many other potential benefits.

– Is there an annual fee for the first year?

I try to avoid cards with first year annual fee because it takes the ‘free’ out of free travel. Sometimes there are unavoidable and are still a great value, such as the Club Carlson Premier credit card that can net you $800 in free hotel stays for a $70 annual fee. On my recent credit card applications I was approved for 6 cards and only one of those has an annual fee that is NOT waived the first year.

– Can I afford minimum spend required to receive sign-up bonus?

I prefer to reach spending requirements organically through everyday spending, but of course there are many other methods to assist in reaching the min spend requires. These include Vanilla Reloads, MyVanilla debit cards, Amazon Payments, and some other known but questionable methods.

All of these factors should be taken into consideration when choosing a sign-up bonus. I pick the top five cards that clearly have benefits and sign-up bonuses that meet my needs or are better than the others currently available. Make sure that you are not targeting more than two cards per bank to apply for, this will likely limit your chances of being approved for the cards.

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About the author

Rand Shoaf

Introduced to traveling at a young age, Rand has since traveled to over 45 countries. Learning how to maximize credit card sign-up bonuses in college has allowed him to earn millions of travel miles and points. Using the same tips and tricks he writes about here has ultimately allowed him to explore the word for pennies on the dollar.

4 Comments

  • In general, are you fairly confident that the hard inquiries (credit-card based) that occur within the same timeframe count as one? This is the case for mortgages or auto-loan, but I wasn’t aware of the credit card one.

    • @ RaeJr There is not certainty that they will be combined into a single credit pull, but from my experience and reports of many others throughout forums and blogs they will be. This normally happens when banks/credit card companies pull your credit from the same credit bureau, so hypothetically if they all pull the same one, you will only have one credit pull no matter how many cards you applied for on that day. With that being said, not all banks will pull the same bureau and they may even pull different ones, so nothing is certain, but applying for multiple cards the same day is certainly the best way and a proven method to minimize the credit pulls from applying for multiple cards.

    • @ Scott Yes, basically recent credit inquires will be visible on your account in Credit Sesame or other credit monitoring site. Hard inquires generally disappear or have diminishing impacts to your credit score after three months. I usually dont attempt to apply for credit cards if I have more than 3 credit pulls showing on my account. Another benefit to apply for multiple cards at one time is that the credit inquires will drop off your credit report at the same time.