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3 Reasons Not to Apply for Any New Credit Cards in 2024

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If you're someone who uses credit cards regularly, then you may be inclined to apply for a new card -- or several new cards -- once the new year kicks off. In some cases, that may be perfectly fine. But if the following circumstances apply to you, then you may want to decide that 2024 will be a year when you won't apply for any new cards at all.

1. You're already in credit card debt

As of the third quarter of 2023, Americans owed a collective $995 billion on their credit cards, says TransUnion. If you already have a pretty hefty credit card balance that you're trying to pay off, then you may not want to apply for any new credit cards until it's whittled down to $0.

If you get a new credit card, you may be tempted to spend more than what you can comfortably afford to pay off. And you don't want to spend months working to chip away at an existing balance, only to then rack up a new one.

2. You're gearing up to apply for a mortgage

When you're applying for a large loan like a mortgage, it's important to keep your credit score in the best shape possible. In some cases, even a small drop could spell the difference between qualifying for a more favorable borrowing rate versus one that's more costly over time.

Note that any time you apply for a credit card, a hard inquiry is made on your credit record. That will usually result in a modest drop in your credit score -- somewhere in the ballpark of five to 10 points.

Normally, that's not such a problem. But if your credit score is right on the cusp of rendering you eligible for a better mortgage rate and it drops by seven points after you submit a credit card application, you could end up stuck with a higher rate on a mortgage for what could be 30 years of payments (or at least until you're reasonably able to refinance).

Furthermore, if you apply for several credit cards in the new year, it might send a message that you're heavily reliant on credit. And that alone might dissuade a lender from writing you a mortgage even if you're otherwise in a good enough financial position to afford one.

3. You're not anticipating a period of higher-than-average spending

A big reason some people are tempted to apply for a new credit card is to take advantage of a generous sign-up bonus. But these bonuses usually impose a pretty steep spending requirement. And if you don't anticipate a period of higher spending than usual, then you may not end up being able to snag a sign-up bonus anyway.

Let's say you come across an offer for $300 cash back for spending $3,000 over a three-month period after opening a new card. If you normally only charge $600 worth of expenses each month on a credit card, then that's just $1,800 in spending over three months, which is a ways off from $3,000.

Now it's one thing if you're planning a big trip in 2024, or are planning to upgrade some electronics or buy new furniture. But if those expenses aren't in your plans, then you may not end up being able to capitalize on a bonus offer.

In many cases, there's nothing wrong with applying for a new credit card here and there as long as you're managing your balances and are paying them off in full. In general, it's a good idea to wait about six months between credit card applications. But if any of the above factors apply to you, then you may not want to add any new credit cards to your personal mix in 2024.

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