Applying for a credit card can seem intimidating, but if you know what to look out for before you begin, then you can easily find the supplier and card that’s the perfect match for you. Here are our top tips to read before you apply for a credit card.
The benefits of pre-qualification
Formally applying for a credit card triggers a ‘hard enquiry’ into your credit report which can affect your credit score. On top of this, there’s no guarantee you’ll even be approved, so there’s a chance you end up with no card, and an impact on your credit score to make further applications with. This is why pre-qualification cards can be really useful.
Pre-qualified credit card offers mean that if you apply for them, you’re very likely to be approved because you meet the initial criteria. You may well have been sent them via post or email, but if not, you can check for pre-qualified offers online yourself — many online credit cards have pages specifically for seeking out pre-qualifications.
There will still be more thorough checks and a hard enquiry, but it’s likely at the end of it you’ll be approved for the credit card you applied for.
Pre-qualification is also really handy because it gives you a more accurate picture of the kind of credit cards you are entitled to and allows you to compare them. It’s free, easy to do, and gives you a better idea of what cards you’re aiming for.
Avoiding credit card scams
By far the most important thing to consider before applying for a credit card is that you avoid scams. Even if you think your credit card seems reputable, there are some tips to follow to be sure:
- Be suspicious of links found in unsolicited emails. Scammers can make pages look authentic, so it’s best to search for your card issuer’s name in your browser directly.
- Be wary of sites ending in .net or .org, and make sure the URL has a padlock or key symbol beside
- Search reviews of your card issuer, particularly if you’ve never heard of
- If a bank is offering you a card that seems far better than any other you’ve seen, there may be hidden fees or another
Picking the right credit card for you
Credit cards have different uses for different people, from building credit, to getting rewards, to spreading costs. Work out what you’re going to be using your card for.
When comparing offers, you should be aware of how good your credit score is. This indicates what kind of cards you can realistically target, and what rates you are likely to be offered if you apply (remember that not everyone is guaranteed the advertised rate).
Once you know the type of credit card you’re after, and you’re satisfied with how your credit report looks, it’s time to compare your options. Look through your pre-qualified offers and use comparison sites that only trigger a soft search on your credit report, meaning your credit score remains untouched.
The process should not be rushed because once you’ve officially applied, your credit score will be impacted.