On my 18th birthday, my mailbox became flooded with “pre-qualified” credit card offers from various issuers trying to get me to sign up for one of their cards. I didn’t necessarily know what pre-qualified meant at the time, but I sure knew what a credit card was, and that I wanted one.
Pre-qualified simply meant the issuer (Capital One, Chase, Discover, etc.) had identified that I met a set of qualifying criteria for approval. Issuers find this information by working with credit bureaus to look at your credit reports, or by setting a requirement, such as a minimum credit score, and requesting a list of consumers who meet the requirement.
Maybe you’ve received an offer in the mail from Capital One, or maybe you’re interested in their popular rewards cards and would like see if you’re already approved. Let’s take a look at the four secrets you should know about pre-qualifying with Capital One:
1. Know Immediately by Applying for the Card You Want
If you prefer a solid “yes” or “no” answer from the issuer straight away, you should choose the card you want and apply for it directly. Below are the top-rated Capital One offers as reviewed by our expert staff. Simply click the “Apply Now” button to go to a card’s official online application.
Best Capital One Cards for “Good Credit” (700+ Credit Score)
Having a good credit score means that you qualify for the very best rewards and interest rates — that’s how banks choose to reward borrowers who’ve exemplified they know how to manage credit well. Here are the top cards Capital One offers to applicants with good credit:
Best Capital One Cards for “Fair or Limited Credit” (Credit Score < 700)
Even with a lack of a solid credit history, you can earn rewards similar to those offered by cards for good credit applicants, but you’ll pay more for them in the form of interest. This means, when possible, you should pay your balance in full each month to avoid paying interest altogether. Of course that holds true for all cards, and doing so will help build your credit score up faster than if you keep a balance and only make the minimum payment each month.
Here are the top cards for those who lack a lengthy, positive credit history:
Best Capital One Cards for “Small Business”
Besides offering a wide variety of consumer cards, Capital One also serves the financing needs of small businesses with its selection of business-only cash back and air miles cards. Below are our top choices from the issuer’s small business credit card offers
2. Capital One Has a 60-Second Pre-Qualify Form
Capital One makes finding out if you’re pre-approved super easy. By entering your name, address, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security number, and selecting your credit level and the card benefit most important to you, Capital One will let you know if you’re pre-qualified in as soon as 60 seconds via the Capital One pre-qualification form.
There’s no harm in seeing if you’re pre-qualified because it will not affect your credit score. You’ll then be presented with a list of offers you’re pre-approved for based on the information you entered.
However, being pre-qualified does not guarantee approval. The only way you’ll know if you’re approved for sure is by applying for a specific card above. Other factors, such as your income and how much debt you have, can still make or break a credit issuer’s lending decision.
3. Getting Denied Doesn’t Mean You’re Denied (Huh?)
Just as pre-qualifying doesn’t guarantee approval, not pre-qualifying doesn’t guarantee denial. Approval comes down to a few key factors, such as credit score, income, debt, and of course your history with credit cards. The pre-qualification process does not, nor can it, look at all of these factors without your consent, which is why all credit card applications require you to agree to a credit check, which will appear as an inquiry on your credit report.
But if you know your poor credit history and perhaps previous misuse of a credit card (maxing it out, missing payments, defaulting altogether) is what’s holding you back from being approved for a Capital One card, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be approved for any credit card at all — there are still plenty of highly-rated credit cards for bad credit available, some even with cash back rewards.
When you use the card responsibly (making on-time payments and keeping a low credit utilization ratio), you can eventually work your way to a better credit score and perhaps even your favorite Capital One card.
4. Opt Out of Pre-Qualification Offers
Once you select the card you want, apply, and are approved, that doesn’t mean the pre-qualification offers will end — oh no, my friend, it’s never that easy. I used to receive so many offers in both my inbox and mailbox each week from so-and-so bank to the point where I eventually Googled a way to figure out how to make it stop. Granted, it’s not exactly the worst problem to have, clearly there was something within my credit profile that lenders liked.
But if you’re like me and considered these offers “junk mail” and threw them in the trash, or just clicked the “Delete” button, you can opt out online here. Or, you can call:
Just think of all the trees you might be saving, let alone your own peace of mind.
So, What’s in Your Wallet?
While the 18-year-old me initially loved the idea of getting credit card offers in the mail, it didn’t take long before I decided to take my credit card search online. And believe me, I’m better off for it.
If you’ve made a similar decision, hopefully this guide will help you better navigate the road to pre-approval with Capital One and the issuer’s many great credit card offers. Unlike most other issuers, Capital One offers a fairly straightforward pre-qualification process, making it that much easier to apply for — and receive — the rewarding credit card you’ve been looking for.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.