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Updated on Wednesday, May 22, 2019
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?
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 four digits of your Social Security number) and they will tell you if you are prequalified. This is the best way to see if you can get a credit card without hurting your credit 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 thus 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 from 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 if you apply for the card. When the credit card company pulls a full credit report, you may still be approved for the card. Conversely, even if you are prequalified for the credit card, you can still ultimately be rejected. Why would this happen?
- 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.
- When a full credit bureau report is pulled, the bank gets more data. Some of that incremental data may also result in a rejection.
- Your information may have changed. The bank may have prequalified you a week ago, but since then you have missed a debt 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?
Many (but not all) banks have prequalification tools. Here are some banks that do offer online prequalification services:Bank of America
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 (and what your interest rate and loan amount would be) without a hard inquiry. Personal loans may also feature lower interest rates than credit cards, although this isn’t always the case.
We recommend starting your personal loan shopping experience at LendingTree. By filling out one quick online form, dozens of lenders may 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.
As low as 2.49%
Minimum 500 FICO®
24 to 60
LendingTree is not a lender. LendingTree is unique in that you may be able to compare up to five personal loan offers within minutes. Everything is done online and you may be pre-qualified by lenders without impacting your credit score. Terms Apply. NMLS #1136.
As of 17-May-19, LendingTree Personal Loan consumers were seeing match rates as low as 2.49% (2.49% APR) on a $20,000 loan amount for a term of three (3) years. Rates and APRs were based on a self-identified credit score of 700 or higher, zero down payment, origination fees of $0 to $100 (depending on loan amount and term selected). Terms Apply. NMLS #1136
Not prequalified but still want to apply?
Even the impact of a hard credit inquiry should not result in too much damage to your credit score. One inquiry will likely only take five to 10 points off your score.
If you pay your bills on time, do not have a ton of debt in relation to your income and want to apply for a new credit card, making an inquiry should not scare you. The only way to know for certain if you can get approved is to apply and see what happens. Keep in mind as well that your score is not adversely affected just because you are rejected for a credit card.
How we can help
- Find the best cash back card for you with our comparison tool
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- Dig out of debt faster by downloading our debt free guide.
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