How to prepare for a date with a new credit card

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Credit Sesame on how preparing for a date with your new credit card includes more than selecting the right card.

Sometimes, applying for a credit card can seem like a long series of bad first dates (read: awkward conversations and a nice dose of rejection—ouch). And trust us, finding your dreamboat credit card is tougher than ever.

In 2022, the average American FICO score was 714. There is no concrete rule around the credit score you need for a successful credit card application. However, card issuers check your credit score as part of the application process, and a low score could impact the terms (for example, the interest rate) or stop you from getting a card. If your profile does not fit lender requirements, they may swipe left.

So are you doomed to hear the dreaded “It’s not us, it’s you” speech forever? Relax. Here are a few ways of setting the stage for a lasting financial connection with a new card.

1. Stop looking desperate (for a new credit card)

Avoid applying for multiple credit cards at the same time. Why? Each time you apply, your credit report card is hit with a hard inquiry. Too many hard inquiries in a short period can signal to lenders that you need some credit—right now—which can appear like you’re in a financial crisis. That’s not the first impression you want to make.

2. Play the game (but don’t be a player)

It’s fine to have a couple of credit cards—most credit advisors will say that two to four cards are perfectly okay and can even help your credit rating (as long as you’re paying your bills on time!). Any more than that and you could consider consolidating your debt. Also, when juggling multiple cards, remember to play the game right. Look closely at how you’re using each card. Your credit utilization ratio (the percentage of your credit line used in relation to your credit limit) should stay as low as possible. Some experts advise keeping your revolving utilization at 30% or less, but nothing magical happens at 30%. The lower your revolving utilization, the better – aim for 10% or less, and your credit scores will reward you. If you have a card with a maximum of $1,000, your balance shouldn’t rise much higher than $100. If you’ve gotten rejected by a lender in the past, take a good look at the utilization ratio of your current credit cards; if it’s too high, work on getting each of those balances down before reapplying for a new card.

3. Look for Mr. Right (not Mr. Right Now)

Those sexy credit cards with covetable rewards and sky-high limits can be pretty tempting. Just because something looks good, doesn’t always mean it’s the right option. Be honest with yourself. If your credit score is less-than-stellar or you’re holding a high debt ratio on multiple cards already, you’re probably not going to qualify for that Black Card you’ve been lusting after. And that’s okay. The best way to get approved for a credit card the first time is to apply for the right card. Sites like CreditSesame.com consider your credit history and have credit card offers for credit scores from poor to excellent.

Overwhelmed at the thought of a new credit card?

Sometimes, your best bet is to pick up the phone and call. Representatives from the lender should be able to give you a clearer sense of what they are looking for in a candidate for a specific card.

If you don’t know your credit score or suspect it needs some serious rehab, you may need to work on it before you apply for your dream credit card. Get your free credit score from Credit Sesame and take it from there.

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Disclaimer: The article and information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Erin Renzas
Erin Renzas is a lifestyle expert and the Editor-in-Chief at Credit Sesame—helping you to make smarter financial decisions, save money and live richly. Before joining Credit Sesame, she was a home and lifestyle editor at Shape and iVillage.

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By clicking on the button above, you agree to the Credit Sesame Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.