How to get pre-approved for a credit card

Bank card pre-approval makes signing up in your first bank card lots simpler.

The bank card market is crowded, and each issuer is promoting to get your consideration. However they might not inform you (or solely inform you within the high-quality print) which playing cards you’re really more likely to get authorised for, or which is able to rating you the very best rates of interest. 

A little analysis into good bank cards may also help you chop by the noise, and the pre-approval course of helps you slim down which playing cards are the very best match in your (fabric or digital) pockets. It’s a low-risk alternative to select the bank card with the options you need — and to ensure you qualify. 

What’s pre-approval?

Bank card firms are all the time looking out for brand new prospects. A technique they discover potential cardholders is by pre-screening credit score stories from the main credit score bureaus. 

They determine customers whose credit score scores and stories are within the ballpark of what the corporate appears for — like no bankruptcies, no delinquencies for a number of months, and a rating beneath the corporate’s minimal cutoff.

Then they’ll ship a pre-approval card supply to those customers. 

It’s necessary to do not forget that pre-approval doesn’t imply you’re robotically certified for the cardboard. However it does imply you’ve made the “first minimize” by becoming the bank card issuer’s most simple necessities. 

What’s the distinction between pre-qualification and pre-approval?

Some issuers use the time period “pre-qualified” as an alternative of “pre-approved.” Although these phrases are typically used interchangeably, they describe several types of provides based mostly on who initiates the method.

Pre-qualification for a card means the client (you) makes the primary request.

If you happen to’re desirous about a particular card, you possibly can go to the corporate’s web site and fill out some fundamental information. The corporate responds by displaying you the playing cards and provides you would possibly qualify for for those who made a proper utility. At that time, you’re “pre-qualified” and might resolve whether or not or to not apply. 

Or a lender could invite you to seek out out for those who pre-qualify for his or her card (by an commercial, as an illustration). This isn’t pre-approval, for the reason that lender hasn’t screened your credit score but to see for those who’ve made the primary minimize. 

Pre-qualification will be the path to take for those who’re model new to credit score — and not using a credit score rating, you’re in all probability not getting on pre-approval mailing lists. 

Pre-approval means the bank card firm reaches out to you first since you meet their fundamental necessities. As soon as they’ve scanned customers’ credit score scores, they let sure customers know they’ve been “pre-approved.”

Lenders usually faucet into their current buyer base to seek out individuals to pre-approve, as effectively. In case your present financial institution is rolling out a brand new bank card, for instance, they could ship you a pre-approval supply. 

Which is best, pre-approval or pre-qualification?

Neither of those processes is best than the opposite, or extra more likely to get you last approval. They’re simply other ways to overview your bank card choices. 

For each pre-approval and pre-qualification, you’ll undergo a tender credit score test — a test that doesn’t influence your credit score rating. This implies each processes are comparatively risk-free. 

The exhausting credit score test, the one which knocks just a few factors off your rating, doesn’t occur till you fill out the longer utility for the cardboard. 

Learn extra: Comfortable pull vs. exhausting pull – how every impacts your credit score

How do I get pre-approved for a bank card?

Reply to a suggestion from a bank card firm

You probably have time to select a card and don’t have a lender you like, you possibly can watch for the bank card firm to come back to you. 

Firms do nonetheless ship provides by snail mail, although not as a lot as they as soon as did. So it’s value having a look at any mail provides earlier than dropping them within the recycling bin. 

Pre-screened provides are completely different from the final mailings that firms ship to everybody on their advertising checklist. Search for the phrases “pre-approved,” “pre-qualified,” or “pre-screened.” The supply could embody an invite code you’ll want to use for the cardboard on-line. 

One benefit to making use of for a pre-approval supply is that they’ll typically offer you an introductory deal related to the supply, like a sign-up bonus or just a few additional months of 0% curiosity. 

These offers aren’t all the time marketed to most people, so that they’re a pleasant pre-approval perk. 

Request pre-qualification on a bank card firm’s web site

Inquiring a few pre-qualification supply could also be one of the simplest ways to get bank card pre-approval if: 

  • You’re new to credit score and opening your first bank card. 
  • You’re rebuilding a low credit score rating.
  • You need to undergo a sure financial institution or apply for a particular card, and also you haven’t acquired a suggestion.
  • You need to try a wider vary of card choices. 

Most main card issuers that supply pre-qualification have a web-based hyperlink to a easy kind. Normally, you gained’t enter greater than your:

  • Title.
  • Tackle.
  • Date of beginning.
  • Social safety quantity. 

Why is it necessary to get pre-approved or pre-qualify?

If you happen to’re purchasing round and contemplating a lot of completely different playing cards, pre-qualification is a risk-free approach to examine preliminary provides earlier than you fill out any purposes. 

The pre-approval stage lets you: 

  • Rule out any playing cards or issuers that you simply don’t qualify for, so that you don’t waste time making use of. 
  • Work out the rate of interest vary you’re more likely to get. 
  • Examine potential sign-on bonuses, loyalty rewards, and different bank card options. 
  • Double-check the cardboard firm’s necessities for cardholders, that are extra detailed than their pre-approval necessities. 

Whenever you take the following step of a proper utility, you’re formally making use of for brand new credit score. This implies the corporate is required to run a tough credit score test. They’ll ask your permission first. 

Onerous credit score checks do present up in your credit score rating, often knocking it down solely 10 or 20 factors. That’s not an enormous deal if it occurs on occasion. 

However for those who apply for credit score fairly incessantly — greater than two or 3 times in six months — your credit score rating takes an even bigger drop. 

With pre-approval, you possibly can ensure you’re solely committing to the exhausting credit score test for those who’re more likely to be authorised for brand new credit score. 

Choosing the right bank card to use for

As a savvy MoneyUnder30 reader, you in all probability know this already, however I’ll remind you simply in case: pre-approval or pre-qualification doesn’t imply the cardboard is the very best match in your wants and way of life. 

First, spend a while determining what you need in a bank card. I recommend asking your self questions like:

  • Are you doubtless to make use of it for giant bills like journey, or on a regular basis prices like groceries?
  • Would you like a card the place the rewards class matches up with the best way you spend?
  • Is your fundamental purpose to start out constructing credit score? 

As soon as you recognize what’s necessary to you, you should utilize the pre-approval course of to seek out playing cards which are an excellent match. 

That is particularly useful in case your bank card pre-approval supply suggests a number of playing cards from the identical firm. These playing cards will all have barely completely different phrases, so take the time to do your analysis about their variations. 

Learn extra: Greatest bank cards for younger adults & first-timers

How do you apply for a bank card after you’re pre-approved?

The pre-approval or pre-qualification course of doesn’t require a lot information. 

You’ll often enter your title, beginning date, deal with, and your social safety quantity (both the final 4 digits or the entire quantity) to substantiate your id. 

The official utility is much more thorough. At a minimal, be ready with: 

  • Earnings info. Chances are you’ll or could not have to submit proof of revenue, relying on the issuer. However you’ll a minimum of must estimate how a lot you earn yearly. 
  • Housing fee info. This could embody how a lot you’re paying in hire or mortgage a month.  
  • Employment standing. 
  • Earnings particulars for a co-signer, if somebody is co-signing for the cardboard with you. 

Learn extra: The best way to apply for a bank card (and approval necessities)

What credit score rating do you want?

It relies upon. There’s no minimal rating that applies to all issuers, so when you have any credit score in any respect, it might be potential to pre-qualify for a card. In fact, the higher your credit score is, the extra provides shall be out there. 

If you happen to don’t have a credit score historical past, it’s a bit of trickier. Some card issuers contemplate various credit score information, like revenue and work historical past, to find out monetary duty. 

Learn extra: What credit score rating do you have to get authorised for a bank card?

After you get authorised

If you happen to make the ultimate minimize and get authorised, not simply pre-approved, it’s time to double-check your card phrases.  

Bank card firms are required to supply the identical phrases listed within the preliminary pre-approval supply in the event that they settle for you. This implies you need to get the identical rate of interest, charge, or bonus that was acknowledged within the supply. Many pre-approvals present a spread of rates of interest, so that they’re required to offer you a fee someplace inside that vary. 

Learn extra: The most effective bank cards – MU30’s prime picks

Are you assured approval when pre-approved for a bank card?

Not essentially. A pre-approval or pre-qualification is an invite to use, not a assure of acceptance. It means there’s a robust probability you’ll meet the requirements for cardholders, however the lender must know extra earlier than really extending you credit score. 

Are you able to get denied after pre-approval?

Keep in mind, pre-approval is simply step one within the course of. You may get denied after submitting a proper utility, even for those who had been pre-qualified or had been pre-approved.

In response to a 2019 report, solely round 40% of bank card candidates made the ultimate minimize and received authorised for a card. 

Whenever you formally apply, you’re giving bank card issuers much more details about your monetary standing than you probably did within the pre-screening phases. This implies they’ll choose you a bit of extra strictly. 

Listed here are a number of the commonest causes pre-approved candidates get their purposes declined: 

  • Your month-to-month or annual revenue doesn’t meet the issuer’s minimal cutoff. 
  • Your reported funds are too excessive relative to your revenue.
  • Your credit score information has modified considerably for the reason that pre-approval supply. 
  • You’ve taken on debt or missed a number of funds for the reason that pre-approval supply. 
  • Your revenue has dropped for the reason that pre-approval supply. 

The lender ought to ship you a letter telling you why they made the choice, so it gained’t be a thriller. 

What if I can’t get pre-approved for a bank card?

If you happen to don’t get any card pre-approvals or pre-qualifications, don’t sweat it. Credit score lenders could also be on the lookout for cardholders who match a selected monetary profile, and that doesn’t replicate in your normal creditworthiness. You continue to have numerous choices. 

  • Strive pre-qualifying with one other bank card firm. Their phrases could also be extra beneficiant or suited to what you want. 
  • Apply anyway. It is a threat as a result of the issuer will run a tough credit score test. However when you have steady employment, good revenue stats, or a co-signer with robust credit score, these elements could make up for a less-than-perfect credit score rating. 
  • Work on bettering your credit score. Make hire, invoice, and mortgage funds on time. If you happen to’re model new to credit score, you possibly can take out a credit score builder mortgage (so long as you’re in a position to pay it again on schedule!). Or ask a trusted member of the family or associate for those who could be a certified consumer on their account. 

Learn extra: The best way to construct credit score the suitable manner

Apply for a secured bank card

For credit score newbies, secured bank cards are a pleasant bridge into the world of credit score, and numerous main card issuers supply them. 

You’ll “safe” the cardboard with a deposit — this quantity can differ, however assume round $200 — which provides you entry to a credit score line as much as that quantity. Then you definately spend simply as you’d on another card. 

After a number of months of accountable use, you’ll often be eligible to transition to an unsecured bank card from the identical firm. 

Learn extra: Greatest secured bank cards

Bank card firms that supply pre-approval

A lot of the greater bank card names have pre-approval or pre-qualification varieties which are straightforward and fast to fill out on-line. 

Take into accout chances are you’ll not have the ability to search pre-approval for each card within the lender’s assortment, however they’ll supply an honest vary of playing cards to select from. 


Whether or not you’re getting your first bank card or including one to your assortment, it’s value going by the pre-approval course of first. You’ll save time, protect your credit score, and hopefully find yourself with an important card that can provide help to obtain monetary stability. 

Featured picture: Roman Samborskyi/

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