As a financial journalist, I have to admit something potentially embarrassing: I didn’t know anything about pre-qualifying for a credit card until a few years into my career. In my early college days when I had no money and no sense (or cents), I actually thought that I could get one of the high-end Amex cards.
If I would have used the American Express pre-qualify tool before applying, I would have known that, as somebody who was not even 20 years old with a part-time job making french fries, I wouldn’t be approved for the card. In fact, the perfect card for me at the time had a $500 credit limit and an interest rate equal to your average payday loan.
Getting Pre-Qualified Is the Right Move
Even now that I’m a lot older, a little wiser and have a more respectable bank account balance, getting pre-qualified still makes sense. Why go through the long, boring and annoying process of a credit card application if you’re going to get rejected anyway? Plus, your credit score will take a hit for no reason if you don’t get approved.
Bank of America offers a lot of great credit cards, so let’s take a closer look at the Bank of America pre-approval and pre-qualification process. It’s worth doing before you complete a Bank of America credit card application.
What Is Credit Card Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval?
Check your SPAM folder and you’ll probably see a good sampling of the credit cards currently on the market. For every offer you see, there are dozens more that you don’t see. Most of those pre-approved credit card offers should die in your SPAM folder. But some of them are worth checking out.
Pre-qualifying does two things: It gives you a strong indication of your chances of qualifying for a credit card, and you’ll see a larger selection of credit card choices. Just because you saw a Capital One commercial, complete with Vikings and questionable acting, doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect card for you. Pre-qualifying will show you a bunch of others cards you didn’t know existed.
How Does Pre-Qualification Work?
When you officially apply, the credit card company does a complete check of your credit. Because you entered your Social Security number and other personal information, they can do what’s called a hard credit check (also called a hard pull) to see if you actually qualify for the card you hope to get.
The problem with a hard pull is that your credit score gets dinged—usually about 5 points. One or two hard pulls aren’t a big deal if you have excellent credit. If you don’t, though, even one hard pull might be a problem, especially if you end up not qualifying for the card.
Pre-qualification is different. Because you’re only entering the most basic of information and not giving your consent for a hard pull, the financial institution pulls some very basic information about you to see if you might qualify. This is called a soft pull. It has no impact on your credit score.
Does Pre-Qualification Mean I’m Approved?
Pre-qualification is helpful, but it doesn’t mean you’re approved. It means that you’re more likely to be approved. You can’t be approved without a hard pull on your credit. In the case of most card companies, the options they give you are probably cards you can get.
How to Prequalify for a Bank of America Card
Now that you know some of the fundamentals of pre-qualification and pre-approval, let’s talk about Bank of America. Maybe you have your eye on a Bank of America card, but you aren’t sure if you’ll qualify.
Go to the issuer’s pre-qualification/pre-approval website to get started. You have two choices—sign in or continue without signing in.
There’s no reason you need to sign in. Current Bank of America customers that sign in, though, won’t have to fill out the information since the bank already has it on file.
On the next couple of screens, you’ll provide some basic information about yourself. Be sure to enter your full name and address. That includes the last four digits of your Social Security number, too.
You’ll see the cards you will likely qualify for after completing these steps. It’s that easy.
If you do decide to apply, you should create an account and sign in. That way you can check your Bank of America credit card status.
If you’re looking for cards from other issuers, we also have detailed guides for Amex pre-approval, Citi pre-approval, Discover pre-approval, Capital One pre-approval and Chase pre-approval. Those posts will tell you how to get a pre-qualified credit card from those issuers.
A Couple of Bank of America Credit Cards I Like
When you prequalify, Bank of America will show you the cards it feels would be a good fit for you. Below are a few of their cards that I like.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America Cash Rewards card is a simple cashback credit card. You’ll earn 1% cash back on most purchases, but you’ll get 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. You’ll also get an impressive 3% back on $2,500 in combined grocery, wholesale club and gas purchases.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- % 3% on Gas
- % 2% on Groceries and at Wholesale Clubs
- % 1% on Dining
- % 1% on All Other Purchases
- $200 cash rewards after you spend $500 in the first 90 days
- 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
The sign-up bonus isn’t the biggest, but you’ll get a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 90 days. If you’re an existing Bank of America customer, you’ll earn up to a 75% bonus on your cash back, depending on your balance.
This card has no annual fee. You will need good to excellent credit to qualify.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
If you know how travel rewards cards work, you’ll be pretty impressed with the BoA Travel Rewards credit card. You’ll earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
- 3x Points on Travel
- 1.5x Points on Dining
- 1.5x Points on Gas
- 1.5x Points on All Other Purchases
- 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
- No Foreign Transaction Fee
You’ll also get 20,000 bonus points if you spend at least $1,000 within 90 days of account opening. You’ll get bonus rewards if you have a Bank of America checking or savings account.
There’s a promotional 0% APR for 12 billing cycles. After that, the APR will be 16.74% to 24.74%, depending on your credit score. There’s no foreign transaction fees and no annual fees, making this card a solid choice.
Don’t Game the System
Just because you successfully pre-qualify for a credit card doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to apply. It doesn’t matter how good the rewards are, you’ll lose money if you carry a balance and pay interest. Avoid credit card interest at all costs.
If you are in the market for a new card, you should definitely get pre-qualified or pre-approved before applying. Bank of America has an easy-to-use tool that will tell you which of their excellent credit cards you’re likely to qualify for. Don’t take a hit to your credit score for no reason. Pre-qualify before you apply.