At a Glance
A credit card can be a valuable tool for building your credit history and earning rewards, but it’s important to use it responsibly. Before you apply for a credit card, it’s important to understand the process and the different factors that will affect your chances of approval.
Is the median interest rate on credit cards in October 2023.
Before you apply
1. Check your credit score
Your credit score is one of the most important factors that lenders will consider when you apply for a credit card. You can check your credit score for free from several websites, including AnnualCreditReport.com. If you have a good credit score, you’re more likely to be approved for a credit card and get a lower interest rate.
2. Research the type of card you need
There are many different types of credit cards available, each with its own features and benefits. Some credit cards offer rewards programs, like cash back or travel points. Others offer low interest rates or no annual fee. Before you apply for a credit card, take some time to research different types of cards and choose one that’s right for you.
Compare: Best Credit Cards
3. Understand common credit card terms
It’s important to understand the common terms associated with credit cards before you apply. Here are a few key terms to know:
- Annual fee: A fee that some credit cards charge each year.
- Annual percentage rate (APR): The interest rate you’ll be charged on purchases if you don’t pay your bill in full each month.
- Credit limit: The maximum amount of money you can borrow on your credit card.
- Grace period: The period of time after you make a purchase before interest starts to accrue.
- Late fee: A fee that some credit cards charge if you don’t make your payment on time.
4. Check if you can get pre-approved
Many credit card companies allow you to check if you’re pre-approved for a card before you apply. Checking for pre-approval can give you a good idea of your chances of approval and the type of interest rate you might qualify for. It’s important to note that checking for pre-approval won’t hurt your credit score.
Learn more: How to Get Pre-Qualified for a Credit Card?
5. Determine a repayment strategy
Before applying for a credit card, it’s important to plan how you’ll repay your balance each month. It’s best to pay your bill in full each month to avoid paying interest. However, if you can’t afford to pay your bill in full, make at least the minimum payment each month.
Submitting your application
1. Choose a method to apply
You can apply for a credit card online, in person, over the phone, or by mail. Applying online is typically the fastest and easiest way to apply. However, you may also be able to apply in person at a bank or credit union branch, over the phone with a customer service representative, or by mail by sending in a completed application form.
To apply for a credit card online, you’ll need to provide your personal information, like your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. You’ll also need to provide your employment information and income.
To apply for a credit card in person, you’ll need to visit a bank or credit union branch. You’ll need to bring a valid form of identification and proof of income.
Over the phone
To apply for a credit card over the phone, you’ll need to call the customer service number of the company you’re interested in. You’ll need to provide the same information if you were applying online or in person.
To apply for a credit card by mail, you’ll need to download and print a credit card application form from the credit card company’s website. Once you’ve completed the application form, you can mail it to the credit card company.
2. Be prepared for an impact on your credit
When you apply for a credit card, the credit card company will perform a hard credit check. A hard credit check can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points. However, the impact on your credit score is usually minor, and your score should bounce back within a few months.
After you apply
1. Approved? Use your credit card responsibly
If you’re approved for a credit card, it’s important to use it responsibly. This means paying your bill on time each month and keeping your balance below your credit limit. Using your credit card responsibly will help you build your credit history and improve your credit score.
2. What to do if your application is denied
If your application for a credit card is denied, don’t give up. There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of approval in the future:
- Check your credit report for errors: Get a copy of your credit report from all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Review your credit reports carefully for any errors or inaccurate information. If you find any errors, dispute them with the credit bureaus.
- Pay down your debt: The less debt you have, the more attractive you’ll be to lenders. Make a plan to pay down your debt as quickly as possible.
- Wait a few months: After you’ve been denied a credit card, wait a few months before applying again. This will give your credit score a chance to recover from the hard credit check.
If you have trouble getting approved for a traditional credit card, you may want to consider a secured credit card. Secured credit cards require you to make a deposit, which becomes your credit limit. Once you’ve used your secured credit card responsibly, you may be eligible to upgrade to an unsecured credit card.
Yes, you can apply for more than one credit card at once. However, it’s important to remember that a hard credit check will be performed each time you apply for a credit card. This can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.
The time it takes to get a credit card depends on the credit card company. Some credit card companies may approve your application instantly, while others may take a few days or even a week.
It’s best to avoid applying for new credit cards too often. Applying for too many credit cards in a short period of time can lower your credit score. If you’ve been denied for a credit card, wait a few months before applying again.
If you’re a beginner with no credit history, you may have trouble getting approved for a traditional credit card. However, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of approval:
- Apply for a secured credit card: Secured credit cards require you to make a deposit, which becomes your credit limit. Once you’ve used your secured credit card responsibly for a period of time, you may be eligible to upgrade to an unsecured credit card.
- Become an authorized user: If you have a family member or friend with good credit, ask them if you can become an authorized user on their credit card. As an authorized user, your credit history will be linked to the primary account holder’s credit history.
- Get a cosigner: If you have a cosigner with good credit, they can help you get approved for a credit card. A cosigner is someone who agrees to be responsible for your credit card debt if you default on your payments.
The easiest credit card to get is a secured credit card. Secured credit cards are designed for people with bad credit or no credit history. To get a secured credit card, you’ll need to make a deposit, which becomes your credit limit.