How to Pre-Qualify for Best Credit Cards and Get Approved

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Keeping a good credit score is important. A high credit score can do everything for you from being approved for a lower loan rate, earning a huge credit card bonus, lowering your insurance premiums, and getting hired for your dream job. One of the ways to keep your credit score high is to limit your inquiries. When you only apply for pre-qualified credit cards and pre-approved credit cards, you are protecting your good credit score by focusing on credit cards that you have the best chance of getting approved for.

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Banks that Have Pre-Qualified Credit Card Offers Online

One of the best ways to find pre-qualified credit cards is to go directly to credit card company websites. Each bank offers multiple credit cards designed for a customer’s credit scoring range. It can difficult to know which one is right for you and which ones you have the best chance of getting approved for. When you visit their websites, you can use their online tools to find out which credit cards you are best qualified for.

Everyone’s situation is different, therefore we each have a different credit card that fits our unique needs. I prefer travel rewards and cash back. Someone who is paying off high interest rate debt will want a balance transfer credit card with a 0% or low interest rate. The best thing about getting pre-qualified credit card offers is that it makes it easier to find a credit card that is best suited for your situation.

Even though I already have a lot of credit cards, I went through each credit card company’s online process to see which pre-qualified credit cards I could qualify for.

Capital One Pre-Qualified Offers

Capital One has been innovating quite a bit lately and their credit cards are designed to make a customer’s life easier. Although they have reward and cash back programs, redemption is straightforward and simple. And I love that there are no blackout dates when redeeming points for flights or hotel rooms.

For more details, read this article: How to Pre-qualify for Capital One Credit Cards.

HSBC Pre-Qualified Offers

HSBC does not allow you to check for pre-qualified credit card offers online. Instead, they mail pre-qualified offers to customers that meet criteria that they are looking for.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare yourself ahead of applying for an HSBC credit card. HSBC requires good to excellent credit for their credit cards. Read this article to find out how you can receive your credit scores for free from all 3 credit bureaus. If your credit score is high enough, then apply for the HSBC credit card that appeals the most to you.

American Express Pre-Qualified Offers

With American Express, you can receive pre-qualified credit card offers online. There are two options to have Amex pre-qualify you – check without logging in or after you’ve logged in. I tried both ways to have Amex pre-qualify me and received different results. I suggest that you do the same to expand your options.

Click this link for a Detailed Guide on How to Pre-qualify for the Best Cards from American Express.

Citibank Pre-Qualified Offers

Citibank also has pre-qualified credit card offers. When you go to their homepage, scroll past the log-in. You’ll find two links to Citi pre-qualify credit card offers – one for pre-qualified credit card offers and another if you’ve received a mailer with a personalized offer.

This guide offers detailed instructions and strategies on  How to Pre-qualify for the Citi Credit Cards.

Chase Pre-Qualified Offers

There are two ways to discover which Chase pre-qualify credit cards are available to you. For existing customers, log-in to your account, click the drop-down menu in the upper left corner of the page, and click on “Your Offers”. Or you can go to Chase.com/pre-qualified to find Chase pre-qualify credit card offers.

Use this comprehensive guide to Find Chase Pre-approved and Pre-qualified Credit Card Offers.

Discover Pre-Qualified Offers

Discover pre-qualified credit card offers can be found on the bank’s home page. Hover over “Credit Cards” in the middle of the page and then click on see if you can get credit card pre-approval. Most other banks only provide pre-qualified results, but Discover provides pre-approved credit card offers.

Because Discover asks for so much information in the pre-screening process, they are more comfortable with providing a credit card pre-approval instead of a pre-qualification.

Check these step-by-step instructions to help you Pre-Qualify for a Discover Credit Card.

Bank of America Pre-Qualified Offers

With Bank of America, you can get pre-qualified credit card offers two ways – by signing into your account or by providing some personal information. For me, both ways yielded the same 4 pre-qualified credit card offers.

I put detailed guide on how to Get Pre-approved and Pre-qualify for Bank of America Credit Cards.

Wells Fargo

Unfortunately, Wells Fargo does not have an online pre-qualified credit card offers tool if you aren’t already an existing customer. Non-customers can call Wells Fargo to inquire about pre-qualified offers.

How to find Wells Fargo Pre-Qualified Credit Card Offers

Existing customers should log in to their account, then click on the “View my credit options guide” and answer some basic questions. I don’t have a Wells Fargo account, so I am basing this off a friend’s account.

How to get Pre-Qualified Credit Card Offers in the Mail

Not getting any pre-qualified credit card offers? If you’d like to receive pre-qualified credit card offers, here are a few steps to take:

steps to get pre-qualify

  • Pay down your debt – banks tend to want to lend to people to don’t need the money. The more you can improve your financial situation, the more of an ideal customer you’ll be for a bank. Here’s a great guide that discusses strategies to pay off your debt.
  • Decrease your utilization ratio – when you decrease the amount that you owe compared to your credit limits, this will lower your utilization ratio and increase your credit score. This overview will tell you everything you want to know about credit utilization (and tips on how to lower yours).
  • Improve your credit score – the higher your credit score, the more favorably a bank will view you. Each credit card is designed for specific scoring ranges, so boosting your score a few points can make the difference between approval or a decline. Certain actions can improve your credit score right away, while others take time. Read this guide on how to improve your credit score quickly.
  • Increase your income – income is a big factor in the approval decision. If you make $100,000, your chances of getting approved are generally higher than if you make $40,000. You may not get a big raise at work, but you can always start a side hustle.
  • Opt-in for pre-qualified offers – if you’re not sure if you’ve opted out before, you can visit OptOutPreScreen.com and submit to “opt-in” to pre-qualified credit card offers. This will ensure that your name and address are eligible to receive credit card promotional offers.

If you follow these steps, I am sure that you will start receiving offers in the mail within a couple of months. Once you’re ready to stop receiving them, you can always turn them off.

How to Pre-Qualify and Get Approved for Multiple Cards

It is good advice to avoid applying for a lot of credit cards all at once. Although each credit inquiry is only 3 to 5 points on your credit score, multiple inquiries can add up in a hurry to harm your credit score.

I believe that there is one major exception to this rule. If you are getting ready for a major purchase that you’re going to charge to a credit card, you want to maximize your benefits.

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If you are going to renovate your home, start a business, or do something else with a big price tag, you may need more than one credit card. Depending upon your needs, I look to maximize credit card rewards through sign-up bonuses or 0% interest rates on purchases. I’ll explain.

Get a 0% Interest Rate Loan through Credit Cards

Sometimes getting a low-interest loan is the most important. Well-meaning people give the advice to stay away from credit cards if you need to borrow money. This is totally true if you’re paying high interest rates on what you’re borrowing.

However, there are some credit cards that offer a 0% interest rate on purchases and balance transfers. These cards are simply amazing. You can buy whatever you need for your business, home, or other needs and not pay any interest for periods up to 18 months. Here is our list of the best 0% balance transfer and purchase offers.

Of course, let common sense apply in this situation. Although you aren’t being charged a high interest during the promotional period, if you don’t pay the balance off before the period ends, you will be charged interest. Only use your credit card to make purchases that you’re confident that you can pay off before the promotional low-interest rate period ends.

Multiple Credit Cards to get Higher Limits

Some people might say, why get multiple credit cards when one credit card will do the trick. In many ways, I agree with them.
However, one credit card approval may not provide a high enough credit limit to meet your needs. In this situation, you may need to apply for multiple credit cards to get the right credit limit to make the purchases you are planning to make.

If you cannot get approved for a big enough credit limit, consider renegotiating with your vendors to reduce the project cost. Or ask if you can split the project into multiple smaller projects. This will allow you time to get approved for other credit cards in the future when you’re ready for additional phases of the project.

Before you Apply, bring in the Professionals

Applying for multiple credit cards the wrong way can damage your credit score for years. Even worse, you may not get approved for the credit limits you needed. Not only didn’t you meet your goal, but your credit score could also be ruined.

To avoid falling into this trap, I suggest getting help from companies like SeekCapital.

What SeekCapital can do for you:

1. Research your credit reports and credit scores to give you an idea of how many credit cards you can get without hurting your credit score.
2. Walk you step-by-step through credit card pre-qualification process to make sure you will get the amount you need.
3. Help you get the amount you need to fund your dream project.

They do charge a fee for their services. However, if you need to get multiple credit cards without damaging your credit score, it is worth it.

What to do if you get declined for a pre-qualified offer

As I mentioned above, just because you were pre-qualified, it doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to be approved. Each credit card company uses a different credit score model which affects their decision to approve or decline you.

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Don’t give up! Here are some steps you can take to get your next credit card.

  • Contact the credit card company’s reconsideration line – a no isn’t always a no. Many times the bank will decline a qualified borrower because they do not have all of the information necessary to approve you. If you get declined, you’re not alone. Because my finances can be complicated, I often get declined when I apply online. When this happens, I call the reconsideration line to ask if there are any questions I can answer for them to approve my application. I’ll get approved 9 times out of 10 when I call the bank’s reconsideration line.
  • Review offers from another bank – just because one bank’s credit score model didn’t approve you, that doesn’t mean that another bank will also decline you. Don’t apply for several credit cards at once, but it is ok to submit a second pre-qualified credit card application if the first one was declined. The second bank’s credit score model may approve you even if the first bank didn’t. When all else fails, you can always use the shopping cart trick to get approved for a new credit card.
  • Review your credit report – Federal Law requires that the credit bureaus provide you a copy of your credit report if your application is declined. You can submit this request online to all 3 credit bureaus. When you review your report, is there anything that sticks out that could cause the bank to decline your application?
  • Get your credit score – your credit report does not include your credit score unless you pay extra for it. There are many websites online that provide your credit score for free. Read this comprehensive guide to find out how to get your free credit score online from all 3 credit bureaus. Many of the websites mentioned will also provide tips to improve your score. Pay attention to them and create your plan of action.
  • Clean up your credit report – are there negative items on your credit report? Tax liens, judgments, and collections can really hurt your score. Are there items on your report that are not yours? Or have you paid off a loan that is still showing as owing money? Mistakes do happen. Contact the credit bureaus and ask them to fix any errors on your credit report.
  • Consider a secured credit card – a secured credit card may not have all the bells and whistles of the credit card you wanted, but you can be approved for a secured credit card much easier. Some secured card increase your limit with a good payment history and some automatically convert to a traditional credit card as your credit profile improve. Here are the best secured credit cards.

How is your Credit Score Affected?

One of the reasons why I love pre-qualified credit card offers and pre-approved credit card offers is that neither of them affects your credit. When you do either of these, the banks perform a soft inquiry to your credit report. If you decide to move forward with any of these offers, provide all of your information, and click apply, then a hard inquiry will occur.

Types of Inquiries: Soft vs. Hard. How they Impact your Credit Score

There are two different types of inquiries to your credit report. A soft inquiry doesn’t affect your credit score, while a hard inquiry will lower your score by 3 to 5 points.

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A soft inquiry only provides minimal information from your credit report to the banks. Think of it as a high-level overview. Soft inquiries do not affect your credit score. They do not appear on your credit report to anyone but you.

A hard inquiry is when the bank receives your full credit report for their review. This would include details on every credit card, loan, and line of credit you have open and those that have closed within the last decade. Additionally, details on collections, liens, judgments, and bankruptcies would also show on your report.

Hard credit inquiries post to your credit report. Your score will usually go down 3 to 5 points when a hard inquiry is made. Hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years, but the impact to your score is gone within 6 to 12 months. A bank cannot perform hard inquiry without your permission.

Pre-Approved vs. Pre-Qualified: What’s the Difference?

To most people, the terms pre-approved and pre-qualified seem like they mean the same thing. But there are a few distinct differences.

difference

Think of these two scenarios as if you were applying for a job.

  • Pre-qualified means that you get the interview.
  • Pre-approved is when the company wants to hire you, but needs to check your references and perform a background check.

What does Pre-Qualified Mean?

Pre-qualified credit card offers happen when you agree to provide your personal information for a lender to determine what credit cards or loans you qualify for. Since major credit card companies often have many credit cards, this helps narrow down the field so you can focus on credit cards where you have the best chance of approval.

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Key facts to know about pre-qualification:

  • A pre-qualification happens when you request it. You contact the bank by phone or on their website and provide basic information. The bank will then match you with credit cards that fit your profile.
  •  Do pre-qualified credit card offers affect my credit score? Because you are only providing basic personal information, a pre-qualification does not impact your credit score. Almost every bank website will clearly state that the pre-qualified credit card offers you are about to see will not affect your credit score. If you decide to apply for any of the offers, then your credit score will be affected in two ways. The hard credit inquiry will lower your score 3 to 5 points. When the new account opens, it will affect your available credit and average age of accounts.
  • Am I guaranteed to be approved if I apply for a pre-qualified credit card offer? No. The bank has matched you with credit cards that match your profile based on the limited information you’ve provided. When you formally apply, the bank will see your full credit report and gather more information from you (like annual income, time at current job, and housing payment) to make a decision based on their credit score model. At this point they can either approve or decline you.

What does Pre-Approved Mean?

Pre-approved credit card offers is when a lender sends out an offer to people that match specific criteria of borrowers that they want to approve. When you receive these offers, you decide whether or not you choose to apply for the offer. In my experience, better credit card offers can often be found online at sites like RewardExpert.com.

In plain English, pre-qualified offers mean that you fit the profile that the bank is looking and they want more information. Once the credit card company has additional details they will make a final decision. Pre-approved offers are for people that the bank wants to approve and, as long as nothing bad is found when the bank pulls their credit, they will get approved for the credit card.

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Key facts to know about pre-approvals:

  • Lenders are the ones who initiate pre-approvals. They have requested information from the credit bureaus and contact people who fit the profile of selected credit cards.
  • Just like pre-qualified credit card offers, pre-approved credit card offers do not impact your credit score. Only if you choose to formally apply will a pre-approved credit card offer affect your credit score.
  • Is this a firm offer of credit? Yes. The bank likes what they see and only needs to confirm your information to formally approve you for this pre-approved credit card offer. The bank will decline you only if there is a dramatic change in your credit report (e.g. delinquencies, charge-offs, bankruptcy) or job situation (e.g. lost job or reduced income) from the date they pulled your information and ran it through their credit score model.

Additionally, when you submit for pre-qualified credit card offers, most banks will reply with multiple credit card choices for you to pick from. A pre-approved credit card offer from the bank will generally only be one, specific credit card that they’ve targeted to your credit profile.

Getting a pre-approval is better than getting pre-qualified since it is an actual formal offer of credit.

Why do I Receive Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers in the Mail?

Credit card companies are always looking for new customers or to expand the relationship with existing customers. The bottom line is that banks are always looking for the next sale. They can just hope that you’ll pick them. Or they can be proactive and offer you credit cards that you have a good chance of being approved for.

in the mail

Two of the most common ways you’ll receive pre-approved credit card offers in the mail is if you’re an existing customer or if you match the criteria the bank is looking for.

If you’re an existing customer, the bank already knows a lot about you, such as income and credit card usage, which leads them to decide that this offer is well-suited for you.

Can I Opt Out of Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers?

There are many reasons why you wouldn’t want to receive pre-qualified or pre-approved credit card offers in the mail. One of the biggest is the threat of someone stealing your mail.

You can opt out of pre-qualified credit cards and pre-approved credit cards by filling out a form. There are two options. The first is to opt-out for 5 years. The second is to opt out forever.

OptOutPrescreen.com
Image via OptOutPrescreen.com

No matter which option you choose, you can reverse the process by going back to OptOutPreScreen.com.

Pre-Qualified Opt-Out for 5 Years

To opt out of pre-qualified credit card offers for 5 years, go to OptOutPreScreen.com. Fill out the form and you’ll opt out of pre-qualified credit card offers and loan offers for the next 5 years. Set a calendar reminder for 5 years from now to repeat the process again.

Permanent Opt-Out of Pre-Qualified Credit Card Offers

If you’d like to permanently opt-out of pre-qualified credit card offers, visit OptOutPreScreen.com. You’ll complete a form online, but then it has to be mailed in.

This website is a joint venture of the credit bureaus. They make their money by collecting and selling your information to banks. They don’t want to make it easy on you to permanently opt out of pre-qualified credit card offers.

The process isn’t hard, but it is an extra step that many people won’t follow through on.

Are Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers Right for You?

If you’re going to apply for a credit card, don’t apply blindly. You could be declined and hurt your credit score. The first move is to visit the bank’s website and search for pre-qualified credit card offers. You might be pre-approved for the credit card you really want. Or you may find out that you qualify for a credit card with even better benefits!

Remember, that these pre-qualified offers will not show you every credit card that is available from each bank. To see what is available, review our list of the best credit cards for travel, cash back, and 0% balance transfer credit cards to find the one that is right for you.

What is your experience with pre-approved credit cards and pre-qualified credit card offers? Do you use them or do you search for credit cards on your own?

Share your experiences in the comment section below.