How to get accepted for a credit card

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It's easy to apply for a credit card. But how can you increase your chances of getting your credit card application approved?

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How to get accepted for a credit card
Putting in some work before applying for a credit card is a good idea, as it will improve your chances of being accepted.

There is a wide range of credit cards available in the UK today. These include cards for people on low incomes and with bad credit, as well as students and first-time borrowers who want to build a credit history.

Regardless of the type of credit card you wish to apply for, lenders will require you to meet certain lending criteria. Here’s what you need to know.

Who can get a credit card?

To be approved for a credit card, you typically need to be:

  • At least 18 (and sometimes 21)

  • A UK resident with a permanent UK address

  • Solvent, which means you have not been declared bankrupt or have any recent individual voluntary agreements (IVAs) or county court judgments (CCJs) on file

  • Employed, retired or a student

To be accepted for some credit cards, you must also have an income above a certain level, say, £10,000 a year. And to qualify for the best deals, you need a good credit score, too. 

Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards

How to apply for a credit card

Applying for a credit card is straightforward. Once you have chosen the card you want, all you need to do is follow the lender’s application process, which can often be done online, in a branch or by post.

The information you need to provide for this includes:

  • Your full name and address (plus any further addresses you’ve lived at in the last three years)

  • Your income and employment status

  • Your bank account details

  • Your email address and phone number

The card provider will then check your credit file and let you know whether it has approved your application.

However, putting in some work before applying is a good idea, as it will improve your chances of being accepted.

How to prepare when applying for a credit card

The following steps could determine whether your credit card application is accepted or denied.

1. Check your credit score

Lenders run a credit check when deciding whether to take you on as a customer. The aim is to determine how likely you are to be able to repay any money you borrow on your card. So, the higher your credit score, the better. However, each time a lender checks your credit history, it leaves a mark that other banks and credit providers you apply to in the future can see, and lots of rejected applications will show up as a red flag on your file. Other easily corrected mistakes, such as being registered at an old address, can also ring alarm bells. That’s why checking your credit rating before applying for a credit card is a good idea.

2. Use a credit card eligibility checker

When you apply for a credit card, the provider runs a hard credit check that leaves a mark on your credit file and can impact your chances of being accepted for loans and credit cards in the future. However, several credit card eligibility checkers are now available online that use details such as your income and employment status to run a soft credit check (that doesn’t show up on your file) to show you which credit cards you’re likely to be offered. So, if you have doubts about your credit score or level of indebtedness, this is also worth doing before applying for a particular credit card.

Why can’t I get a credit card?

If you have been refused a credit card, it’s probably for one of the following reasons:

  • You made a mistake on the application form – that’s why you should double-check the information you provide before hitting send

  • You do not have a high enough income to qualify for the card in question – or in some cases, you have not been in your job long enough

  • You have too much existing debt – lenders will often reject your application if your debts are above a certain percentage of your income

  • You have failed to manage your former debts responsibly – lenders get nervous if they can see you have missed payments or defaulted on credit agreements in the past

  • You have too much scope to borrow via unused credit limits – for example, if you maxed out your bank account overdrafts and credit cards

  • You have made too many credit applications in a short time – this is why it’s sensible to only apply for cards you have a good chance of getting

  • You have no record of past borrowing – this means you have no credit history to demonstrate you are capable of managing debt

  • You have a joint account or credit agreement with someone with bad credit – you will be penalised if the other person has debt problems, for example

Even if your credit card application is accepted, it may not be on the terms you expect. Credit card providers advertise deals based on an APR (Annual Percentage Rate). But they only have to offer this rate to 51% of the people they accept as customers. So, they may propose a card but with a much higher interest rate, for example. That’s why it’s important to check the details of the offer before going ahead.

How can I get accepted for a credit card?

You can take steps to make your credit card application more attractive to lenders, even if you don’t have a perfect credit score. Here are four easy ways to boost your chances of being accepted for a credit card.

  • Check that you are on the Electoral Roll. Not being on it will negatively impact your credit score

  • Ensure the information on your credit file, such as your address and marital status, is up to date

  • Pay down any outstanding debt, such as overdrafts or credit card balances

  • Close any credit cards you no longer use to avoid having too much credit available

Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards

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