Does Applying for Credit Cards Hurt my Credit Score?

I often get asked the following questions:

  • Does applying for credit cards hurt my credit score?
  • I want to start travel hacking, but doesn’t signing up for credit cards lower my credit score?

Before I answer the question, it’s important to understand what a credit report is and what is a good credit score.

What is a Credit Report?

A credit report is a “snapshot” of your credit history. It is one of the main tools lenders use to decide whether or not to give you credit. Your credit history is recorded in files maintained by at least one of Canada’s major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. If you’re wondering what your credit report looks like, you can obtain your credit file for free.

You can obtain free credit score reports from ratehub.ca (Equifax) and creditkarma.ca (TransUnion) .

What is a Good Credit Score?

Your credit score can range from 300 to 900. The higher the score, the better. A high score indicates that you’re less likely to default on your repayments if you take out a loan.

Here’s a general breakdown of where credit scores rank in terms of your general ability to qualify for lending or credit requests such as a loan or mortgage.

Note that this range can vary slightly depending on the provider, so this is only an approximate guideline.

760s or higher: Congratulations! You have an excellent credit score. Keep reaching for the stars and continue making your payments on time. 

725 to 759: You have a really good credit score! You should expect to have a variety of credit choices to choose from, so continue your healthy financial habits.

660 to 724: This is about the lowest range your score can fall within to still be considered “good” to lenders. You may not qualify for the lowest interest rates available, but keep your credit history strong to help build your credit health.

560 to 659: Your score could be better. History of debt repayment will be important to demonstrate your solid sense of financial responsibility.

300 to 559: Your score needs some work. Keep reading for some score improvement suggestions below.

Now, to answer the popular question “does applying for credit cards hurt my credit score?”

The answer is NO it doesn’t. It’s a myth and not something you should worry about. When you first apply for a credit card, your credit score will initially go down 5-10 points (insignificant amount), but as long as you pay off your balance, it’ll quickly recover back to normal in 2-3 months.

To give you a detailed example, I’ll tell you exactly what my credit score is. I’m about an extreme example as you can find since I’m a hardcore travel hacker. I have over 10 active credit cards and still have an excellent (close to perfect) credit score of 789 (TransUnion) and 821 (Equifax).

Even though I have so many credit cards, I have an excellent credit score because I pay off the balance on all of my credit cards and have not missed a single payment in over 15 years.

For further proof, here’s screenshots of my credit report that I recently pulled on Credit Karma (TransUnion) and RateHub (Equifax)

My Credit Score on RateHub (Equifax Canada)

 

My Credit Score on Credit Karma (TransUnion)

 

This shows all the American Express Credit Cards that I recently applied and was approved for

   

I hope this answers your question and any concerns you may have about applying for credit cards, and whether or not it’ll affect your credit score. 

Signing up for multiple credit cards is the best and fastest way to travel hack and to redeem points & miles. Travel Hacking is meant for people who are financially responsible. The last thing you want to do is sign-up for credit cards and rack up a balance you can’t pay off.

If you’re ready to start travel hacking, here’s some of my most popular posts:

4 thoughts on “Does Applying for Credit Cards Hurt my Credit Score?

  • March 10, 2017 at 4:36 pm
    Permalink

    HI Ray
    You explain very good for “does applying for credit cards hurt my credit score?”
    can I ask you please to explain about “does canceling credit cards hurt my credit score and history ?” Without any balance

    I would be appreciated it if I could get some information

    Thank you
    Saman

    Reply
    • March 11, 2017 at 9:49 pm
      Permalink

      Good question. That would make a great post. I’ll write a blog post about it in the near future.

      In short, if you’re responsible with your payments, cancelling credit cards won’t affect your credit score. I cancel cards all the time and have a near perfect credit score.

      Reply
  • March 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm
    Permalink

    I applied for the AMEX Gold Rewards card to get the 25,000 bonus points. I got the points and before the year finished, I canceled it ( I didn’t want to pay for annual fees).
    After a year later, I applied again for the same card to see if I would get another 25,000 points.
    I got approved but they said they would not give me any bonus points because my history showed I had already had that card.
    How have you managed to get the bonus points when applying for the same AMEX card?

    Thanks,
    Lulu

    Reply
    • March 18, 2017 at 4:19 pm
      Permalink

      American Express recently implemented a “once in a life time” rule for sign-up welcome points. That means if you signed up for a particular card before, you won’t get the welcome bonus points if you sign-up for the same card again.

      I’ve never applied for the same card more then once. The great thing about American Express is they have lots of different cards that all offer generous welcome sign-up points. I almost have every American Express card. I sign-up for each of their different cards to get the welcome points for each card. I also get my spouse to do the same thing. Even on the cards that have an annual fee, it’s well worth it to sign-up for the card (pay the annual fee the first year to get the bonus points) and cancel before the start of the 2nd year.

      Reply

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