Are you avoiding a credit card application because you’re afraid of being rejected? Want to see if you can be approved for a credit card without having an inquiry hit your credit score?
We may be able to help. Some large banks give you the chance to see if you are prequalified for cards before you officially apply. You give a bit of personal information (name, address, typically the last 4 digits of your social security), and they will tell you if you are prequalified. There is no harm to your credit score when using this service. This is the best way to see if you can get a credit card without hurting your score.
What does prequalified mean?
Prequalification typically utilizes a soft credit inquiry with a credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion). A soft inquiry does not appear on your credit report, and will not harm your credit score.
Banks also create prequalified lists by buying marketing lists every month from a credit bureau. They buy the names of people who would meet their credit criteria and keep that list. When you see if you are prequalified, the bank is just checking to see if you are on their list.
A soft inquiry provides the bank with some basic credit information, including your score. Based upon the information in the credit bureau, the bank determines whether or not you have been prequalified for a credit card.
If you are not prequalified, that does not mean you will be rejected. When they pull a full credit report or get more information, you may still be approved. But, even if you are prequalified, you can still be rejected. So, why would you be rejected?
- When you complete a formal credit card application, you provide additional personal information, including your employment and salary. If you are unemployed, or if your salary is too low relative to your debt – you could be rejected. There are other policy reasons that can be applied as well.
- When a full credit bureau report is pulled, the bank gets more data. Some of that incremental data may result in a rejection.
- Timing: your information may have changed. The bank may have prequalified you a week ago, but since then you have missed a payment. Final decisions are always made using the most up-to-date information.
Even with these caveats, checking to see if you are prequalified is a great way to shop for a credit card without hurting your score.
Where can I see if I have been prequalified?
Most (but not all) banks have prequalification tools. In addition, some websites (like CreditCards.com) have tools that let you check across multiple banks at once. Here is a current list of tools that are functioning:Citibank
Credit One – a credit card company targeting people with less than perfect credit
Below are credit card issuers that do not always have the prequalification tool live:
Barclays – unfortunately Barclays has taken down their prequalification tool. We will keep looking to see if it comes back.
Consider A Personal Loan (No Hard Inquiry and Lower Rates)
If you need to borrow money, you may also want to consider a personal loan. A number of internet-only personal loan companies allow you to see if you are approved (including your interest rate and loan amount) without a hard inquiry on your credit report. Instead, they do a soft pull, which has no impact on your credit score. Personal loans also tend to have much lower interest rates than credit cards. If you need to borrow money, personal loans are usually a better option.
We recommend starting your personal loan shopping experience at LendingTree. By filling out one quick online form, dozens of lenders will compete for your business. LendingTree uses a soft credit pull, and within minutes you will be able to see how much you qualify for – and the interest rate – without any harm to your credit score.
Not prequalified but still want to apply?
We still believe that people are too afraid of the impact of credit inquiries on their score. One inquiry will only take 5-10 points off your score.
If you pay your bills on time, do not have a ton of debt (less than $20,000) and want to apply for a new credit card, an inquiry should not scare you. The only way to know for certain if you can get approved is to do a full application.
How We Can Help
- Find the best cash back card for you with our comparison tool
- Trying to build credit history? We can help you find a secured card
- Dig out of debt faster by downloading our debt free guide.
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