At a Glance

Want to open a new credit card without the risk of being denied and harming your credit? Try getting pre-qualified.

Pre-qualifying for a credit card is not a guarantee, but it can help you get a better sense of whether you’re likely to be approved. Keep reading to understand how pre-qualification works and how to get pre-qualified.

In this article, you’ll learn:


Zina’s insider tip: Getting prequalified is an important first step to being approved for a credit card. Prequalification can save you a hard inquiry if you’re denied a credit card so if possible, always try to get prequalified if you can.

What does pre-qualification mean?

Pre-qualification occurs when a credit card company reviews your basic financial profile and determines that you may be eligible for one of their cards.

Pre-qualification is not the same as full approval. Even if you’re pre-qualified, you may still be denied a card after submitting a complete application. Pre-qualification only results in a soft credit inquiry, which will not affect your credit score.

Some cards issuers that allow you to get prequalified include:

  • American Express
  • Apple Card
  • Bank of America
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Discover
  • Venmo Credit Card
  • Wells Fargo

What credit score do I need to pre-qualify for a credit card?

There is no specific credit score you need to get pre-qualified, but a score of 670 or higher improves your chances. You can now check your credit score for free right here on Credello.

Even if you have poor credit, you may still be able to qualify for a credit card. However, know that you’ll have a much smaller selection and depending on your credit history, you may only qualify for secured credit cards.

How to pre-qualify for a credit card?

There are several ways you can pre-qualify for a credit card. However, note that before submitting a pre-qualification request, you can call the card company to verify that it will not be treated as a hard inquiry. A hard inquiry could impact your credit for one year.

1. Mailed offers

Many consumers get pre-qualification letters in the mail or through your email. These offers are typically for specific cards and they invite you to apply typically using a unique code included in the letter or email. Follow the instructions in the letter or email.

2. Online with the issuer

If you didn’t receive one of these letters, you can also get pre-qualified online. Many issuers have a prequalification tool that asks you to share basic details about yourself to get an idea of your approval odds. Many of these services tell you which of multiple cards you may be eligible for to make comparing options easier.

3. A card aggregator service

There are some online services you can use to see if you have a chance of getting approved for cards from multiple credit card companies. These services match you with personalized card offers based on your credit profile and the basic information you enter.

Pros and cons of pre-qualified credit cards

Pros Cons
Fast and easy Takes time to fill out forms
Doesn’t impact credit Offers are not final
Get guidance on which card is best for you If you miss the preapproval window, your application may be denied
Get other information such as credit limit and APR
May include offers for increased reward earning

How to improve your chances of scoring a pre-qualified credit card offer?

1. Pay on time

Your on-time payment history represents the biggest component in your credit score, and late payments can slash your credit score by more than 100 points.

But if you make your payments on time, you can improve your credit score. If you’ve ever paid late before, consider signing up for automatic payments so you never miss another payment.

2. Keep card balances low

Your credit utilization percentage affects 30% of your credit score. If you have a high utilization percentage, it could ding your credit score.

Here’s how to figure out your credit utilization percentage. Take the current balance on all your credit cards and then add up the total credit limit. Divide the current balance by the total credit limit. If the result is more than 30%, you should work on paying off the balance on your credit cards.

3. Check your credit report

According to the Federal Trade Commission, about one in five people have a mistake on their credit report that is hurting their credit score.

To see if you have errors on your credit report, go to and view your credit report from all three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

4. Update your income

Your income is a major factor for becoming pre-qualified for a credit card. If your income is too low, the card company may reject your pre-qualification request. Make sure the card company has your current salary and all your sources of income.

5. Only apply for new credit accounts as needed

Applying for new credit will result in a hard inquiry on your credit score, which could cause a temporary five to 10-point decrease. If you want to open a new credit card, don’t open any other new credit accounts.

6. Monitor your credit

When working to boost your credit score, check in every few weeks to see how your score is doing. Your bank or credit card provider may offer free monthly updates that you can sign up for.

What happens if I don’t get pre-qualified for a credit card?

If you aren’t pre-qualified, you can call the card company and ask why you were denied. You can try to pre-qualify for a different card, possibly with a lower credit score requirement.

You can also attempt to get pre-qualified in a couple of months, after your credit score has had a chance to rebound.

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

You may hear the terms pre-approval and pre-qualification interchangeably, but they are actually different.

Both mean the issuer preliminarily reviews your personal and financial information (like your credit profile) to see if you’re eligible for a credit card offer. However, pre-qualification is a more simple review of your credit history using information like your name, address, and Social Security Number while pre-approval goes a step further and performs a soft credit check to analyze additional information (like annual income).

Both pre-approval and pre-qualification can include potential rates, terms, and benefits tailored to you. However, neither guarantees a final offer. Being pre-approved may be harder if you don’t have an excellent credit score, and it usually results in a hard inquiry on your credit report.


Most types of credit cards offer pre-qualification. This includes travel, cash-back, business and other kinds of premium credit cards.

If you are pre-qualified, there’s a high chance that you’ll be approved for the card once you complete an official application. But it’s still not a guarantee.

Most credit card providers list their general credit score requirements on their websites. Go there to see if you fit the criteria. If you do, you’ll likely qualify for the card.

In general, travel and high-level rewards cards are the hardest to qualify for. If you have excellent credit, you can try to get pre-qualified with all types of credit cards.

If you have fair credit, stick to cards that cater to consumers who are rebuilding their credit. These cards are less likely to offer rewards, but are a good starting place if you’re trying to fix your credit.

Unfortunately, pre-qualification isn’t always 100% accurate. It’s entirely possible that you could get pre-qualified and still be rejected after submitting a full application.

Generally, pre-qualifying should not impact your credit score because it will only result in a soft credit inquiry. A soft credit inquiry will still appear on your credit report, but it will not affect your credit score.

If you didn’t get a pre-qualification letter in the mail, you will have to get manually pre-qualified through the card company’s website. You can also try calling to see if you can get pre-qualified over the phone.

Pre-qualification is a relatively quick process, and you should find out within a few minutes if you were pre-qualified. If you receive a pre-qualification letter in the mail, then you are already pre-qualified and only have to submit a full application.

Yes, Chase has an online application for preapproval, or you can log into your Chase account to see offers based on your current relationship with them. Or, you may get an offer in the mail.

Enter your name, Social Security number, annual income, monthly bill payments, housing status, and more online at Discover to see which cards you may be prequalified for.

Yes, simply answer some pre-approval questions like your date of birth and income and see which cards you’re pre-approved for, then choose the offer for you and complete the application for the Capital One card.

No, at this time you cannot check to see if you can prequalify for a Citi credit card online. Instead, view the full offering of Citi cards on their website.