What information do you need to provide?

You will need to provide your name, address and personal details like gender, date of birth and nationality.

You will also need to confirm your employment status, details of your bank account and anything else they ask.

How to choose your credit card

There are several types of credit card, and the one that will suit you best depends on:

  1. What you need to use it for

  2. Your financial circumstances

The best way to make sure you find the right deal is to use a credit card comparison. If you have never had a credit card before, here is how to choose your first card.

How to apply

There are several ways to apply for a card, and the one you choose will affect how long your application takes and how easily you can shop around for the best card:

Apply online

The best way to get a credit card for most people is online because it takes about ten minutes and you can apply anywhere and at any time of day:

Providers can usually confirm if they have accepted your application in less than 60 seconds. In some cases they may need longer and will then contact you by email, phone or post.

Apply by phone

Your provider will talk you through the application and take all the details they need from you.

You can find the credit card company's phone number on their website or any promotional material they may have sent you.

You will usually be sent an application form to sign in the post because the provider will need you to agree to the credit agreement in writing.

Apply by post

To apply by post you will need a paper application form, which you can ask for by phone, email, through the provider's website or in person.

Complete the form and send it back to the credit card company (the address will be on the form). They will contact you once they have processed your application.

Apply in person

If you want to take out a credit card with a high street bank, you can apply in their branches. Some providers sell their cards in places like shopping centres.

You may also need to bring identification like a passport, driving licence and proof of your address like a bank statement or utility bill.

Although someone can help you complete the application form, you will not easily be able to compare the card being offered to other deals.

What happens after you apply?

Wait for their decision

You will need to wait to find out if your application has been accepted. You will usually find out immediately (unless you apply by post), but if the provider needs to run extra checks it could take up to ten days.

Will you be accepted?

Credit card companies will usually only accept your application if:

  • You are 18 or over

  • You live in the UK

  • Your annual income is above a certain amount

They will also run a credit check to decide if they are willing to offer you a credit card.

This explains how credit card companies decide and what you can do to give your application the best chance of being accepted.

What happens after you are approved?

Once your application has been accepted you will find out your interest rate (APR) and credit limit.

You may not get the rate or credit limit advertised when you found your card because these are only provided as an example. The APR and credit limit you get will depend on your financial situation and credit report.

You will not be able to use the card until it arrives in the post, which can take a week or two.

What if you get declined?

Do not just apply again because this can damage your credit report, and most providers will not consider another application from the same person within six months.

Here is how to choose a card that is more likely to accept you. You could avoid a declined application by using our credit card eligibility checker. It can show you the cards that are most likely to accept you, and give you your chances of acceptance.

How to use your new card

It is important to understand how to use your credit card before you start to spend.

You will also need to know what charges and fees can be applied so you can avoid having to pay them.

This guide explains everything you need to know about using your card, including how to pay your bill, how much you should repay and what to do if you lose your card.