This Is the Weirdest Reason I've Opened a New Credit Card


There are a lot of good reasons to get a new credit card. A great welcome bonus is one of the most compelling ones, for me. And I’ve opened one or two for the intro APR offer.

But every now and then, the reason I apply for a new card is less monetarily driven. For example, last year I obtained a particular travel credit card not for its welcome bonus — though I made sure to earn that — but for one specific perk: early boarding.

I needed guaranteed overhead space

During my house hunt last year, I flew a lot. We were shopping for houses across the country, so every step of the process required a plane trip — a few of them very last-minute.

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While we always fly carry-on only, we also prefer to fly first or business class (we think it’s worth the extra rewards points). This means we always have plenty of dedicated overhead space. But flying back and forth to buy a house, our budget — and timeline — meant we weren’t springing for the upgraded seats.

Unfortunately, when you’re in the second-to-last boarding group, the chances of finding overhead space go down with each person in line ahead of you. The solution? Early boarding that lets you jump up in the line.

Every flight we took with this airline, we were on the plane in the second boarding group. We always had plenty of overhead bin space.

Personal vs. business credit cards

For this particular airline, early boarding was a perk of the cobranded airline card. Even better, in my case, it was a perk of the business credit card, too.

Why was that better? Well, because I was in the process of getting a mortgage loan. Any major changes to my credit history during the loan process could have derailed things. And this includes opening a new personal credit card.

Most small business credit cards, on the other hand, don’t report to your personal credit. (Some issuers do, however, so be sure to check before you apply.) So the only impact to your personal credit from a new small business card is typically the initial credit check. As long as you keep hard credit pulls to a minimum, the credit score impact from that is small.

The costs of opening a new credit card

Even if you’re not in the middle of getting a mortgage, you should always think carefully before applying for a new credit card, especially for a silly reason. (I’m looking at you, pitiful store credit card bonuses.)

Opening a new card impacts your credit score in a few ways:

  • The hard credit pull: As mentioned above, the credit check when you apply appears on your credit history as a hard credit pull. These can ding your credit score for up to two years. One or two won’t hurt, but more can have a bigger impact on your score.
  • The average account age: Credit scoring algorithms look at the overall age of your credit history, but they also take into account the average age of your accounts. Each new account brings your average age down, which can negatively impact your score.
  • The new credit factor: Up to 10% of your score is based on “new credit,” which essentially looks at how many new accounts you’ve recently opened. A lot of new accounts in a short period of time is a red flag for creditors (and scoring models).

Is a new card worth it?

In general, I always ask myself two questions when deciding if a specific card is worth opening:

  1. Does it offer a lot of monetary value?
  2. Does it offer a unique, useful perk?

If it doesn’t give me one (or, ideally, both), then I look for other cards that will better fit my needs.

Opening a new card isn’t dire, but it definitely has consequences. Make sure that what you’re getting from the card — even if it’s just peace of mind you’ll find overhead bin space — is worth the potential downsides.

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