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Should I apply for a new credit card during the holidays?

Woman using credit card for online shopping in her kitchen during winter holidays
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Finding the best credit card for your needs can help when you get it at the right time. In fact, timing your credit card application could actually result in gaining more value from your credit card.

For this reason, the holiday season presents some unique advantages for new credit card applicants. If you’re interested in why you might want to apply for a credit card during the holidays, here’s more information on why this strategy could be a good idea.

Does it matter when I apply for a credit card?

Trying to time a credit card application at the ideal moment not only means your approval odds could increase, but you could also increase the likelihood that you’ll gain more benefits from your new credit card. Here are some considerations when timing your credit card application:

Is my credit score high enough?

If your credit score isn’t high enough for the card you are applying for, then you won’t get approved, and you could suffer a hard inquiry to your credit profile without the reward of a new card. Hard inquiries can lower your credit score temporarily, so it’s not worth the hit without even getting your application approved.

If you’re looking for a credit card that matches your credit profile, you can use the CardMatch tool to find credit card offers you’ll most likely be approved for. With this tool, you don’t have to worry about a hard inquiry; a soft inquiry will match you with any prequalified offers you may be eligible for, as well as matches for your credit profile.

Do I have a big purchase coming up?

If you’ve got a big purchase coming up, a new credit card could come in handy in a couple of ways. First, many credit cards offer sign-up bonuses if you meet a certain spending requirement within a specified period of time of opening your account. Secondly, some credit cards could have 0 percent introductory APR offers where you don’t have to pay interest for a set amount of time on purchases, balance transfers or both.

Sometimes, you may find a credit card with both a welcome bonus and introductory APR. If you’ve got a big purchase on the horizon, you could benefit from extra cash and the ability to pay off the purchase over time. Plus, you might earn ongoing credit card rewards in the process.

Do I need another credit card?

Ideally, you’ll get a credit card only if you have a need for it. Having too many cards to manage could cause money struggles for some people and could result in overuse or mismanagement. If your credit card has an annual fee, you could be adding unnecessary costs to the hassle of adding an extra card to the mix. On the flip side, if your new card offers rewards in different bonus categories than the ones you currently have, having multiple cards can be a good strategy.

What’s the benefit of applying for a credit card during the holiday season?

Credit card rewards and benefits

Since you will likely spend more money during the holiday season, there are plenty of opportunities to make a credit card work to your advantage. In addition to using your holiday spending to earn a welcome bonus and rewards, you might have access to other benefits like credits and card perks.

For instance, the Platinum Card® from American Express card has a $100 annual credit for Saks Fifth Avenue ($50 for January through June and $50 for July through December) and up to $155 per year in Walmart+ monthly membership credits.

Then, of course, if you’ve got an 0 percent introductory APR card for purchases, you can pay off your holiday spending on your credit card over time. For instance, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ currently offers a 0% 15-month introductory APR offer for both purchases and balance transfers with a 15.24 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR thereafter.

Special promotions

Although it can be incredibly difficult to anticipate when card issuers will offer boosted sign-up bonuses and other promotions, there’s a good chance that you’ll find something of value towards the end of the year.

For instance, Chase has added several limited-time offers during the holidays for discounts on certain products and gift cards.

Then, there are a few rotating bonus category cards with rewards in the fourth quarter of the year for common retailers like Target, Amazon and Walmart. Store credit cards are also known to offer special discounts and promotions for shoppers that apply for retail credit lines during the holiday season.

Should I apply for a credit card during the holidays?

This move could benefit you if you’ve got goals of saving money with rewards, bonuses and promotions while garnering some extra time to pay down purchases. The great news is that there are plenty of cards that can help you access one or more of these benefits. Finding the best credit card for your goals during the holiday season is just a matter of researching and applying for the one that works best for you.

Written by
Aja McClanahan
Personal Finance Writer
Aja McClanahan is an author, blogger and speaker on personal finance and entrepreneurship. Aja is the author of "How a Mother Should Talk About Money with Her Daughter."
Edited by
Senior Editor, Credit Card Product News
Reviewed by
Associate Editor