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How often can you change credit cards?

Changing credit cards can help you get a better deal, but switching too often could hurt your credit score. Here's what you need to know.

There's no hard and fast rule on how often you can change credit cards – you can apply and switch to a new card at any time. In fact, it can be a really powerful way of boosting your frequent flyer points.

But if you apply for a few cards in a short amount of time it can impact your credit score. Learn more about changing credit cards, the potential benefits and how to decide on the right time to get your next card.

What happens when you change credit cards?

Whenever you apply for a new card, it gets noted on your credit history. All credit applications (whether approved or not) are recorded on your credit report.

When lenders are reviewing your credit report, multiple applications for credit in a short amount of time may be considered a red flag, as it could indicate you're having trouble managing your money.

Before you apply for a credit card, it's a good idea to check your credit score. Australian lenders will only approve applicants who meet the eligibility criteria and have a good or excellent credit score. Check your free credit score online through Finder.

How often is too often to change cards?

Ideally, you may want to apply for a new credit card once a year.

Any more frequent than this can amount to too much activity on your credit profile, which can contribute to a lower score.

If you leave it too long between changing credit cards, you may miss opportunities to amass more rewards points, or you may end up paying more interest than you need to.

A sweet spot of around 18 months could be considered a good cadence to change cards, to ensure you're getting the best value and have the most suitable card for your situation. It also ensures you're taking advantage of the points offers you want.

If you have multiple credit cards, you may want to consider consolidating them under one new card with a balance transfer.

Finder survey: How many credit cards do Australians have in each state?

Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023
Data for ACT, NT, TAS not shown due to insufficient sample size. Some other states may also be excluded for this reason.

Should you close your old credit card account?

If you no longer need your old card, it's a good idea to close the account once you've activated your new card.

Having multiple credit cards open is an easy way to get into debt. Try to keep the limits to a low and reasonable amount so you're confident you can afford the repayments on an ongoing basis.

As long as you keep your accounts in good standing and make timely repayments, applying for a new credit card every year and keeping the old card open isn't likely to have a negative impact on your credit score. But it could put pressure on your budget, so make sure you don't overcommit to too much debt.

Check out our guide to applying for a credit card for some tips.

Benefits of changing credit cards

A key reason for changing credit cards is to get more benefits than what's offered on your current card. This could include:

  • Lower interest rates. If you're paying interest on your credit card balance, changing to a card that offers a lower interest rate can help you save on these charges. Finder's analysis of credit card balances and rates has found the average Australian could save around $100 per year by switching to a low-rate card of 7.49%.
  • Bonus points offers. Some rewards cards and frequent flyer cards offer up to 200,000 bonus points on sign-up when you meet the spend requirements. As long as the requirements align with your budget, a bonus points offer can be an easy way to boost your points balance.
  • 0% balance transfer offers. If you’re struggling to repay an existing debt that is attracting interest, you may want to transfer your debt to a card that charges 0% interest rate on balance transfers. These cards usually offer interest-free periods for introductory periods of about 6 to 26 months. At the end of the promotional period, any remaining debt from the balance transfer will attract the revert rate.
  • 0% purchase rate offers. If you're using your card to make purchases, you can save by switching to a card that charges a low interest rate or 0% interest during the promotional period. If the card charges 0% for an introductory period, the standard purchase interest rate will apply once the promotion ends.
  • Competitive fees. If you're paying a high annual fee, maybe you'll want to switch to a card that charges $0 annual fee for life or for the first year.

Rather than applying for multiple credit cards at once, take the time to compare your options, understand the features and ensure you meet the eligibility requirements before you apply.

If you’ve applied for a credit card and have been rejected, you should wait at least a few months before applying for another. During this time, you should repay existing debts, improve your credit score and research credit cards that you're eligible for.

See our guide for more information on why your credit card application might’ve been declined and what you can do to improve your likelihood of approval.

Images: Getty

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    AliFebruary 21, 2024

    I am tempting to change my only credit card from Amex David Jones to Bankwest Zero Platinum; I’ve been with Amex for 5+ years and have very good credit history and on-time payment with 0 balance.
    Was wondering to ask do I lose my good credit history if cancel Amex and apply for Bankwest? One of biggest encouragements among shiny features of Zero Platinum (like travel features) is that not all merchants/stores accept Amex but everywhere accept Mastercard and I can consolidate all my bills/payments.

      SarahFebruary 21, 2024Finder

      Hi Ali,

      We’re no the experts in this field, but the local government authority in WA can give you more information on this.

      Hope this helps!

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