The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, September 24, 2020

18 Credit Card Pre-Approval Links

Credit Card Pre Approval Links

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Updated: June 17, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

Shopping for a credit card isn’t quite as exciting as going shopping with a credit card — but you can’t do one without the other. And both require a bit of research and rational thinking if you want to avoid making a bad financial decision that could haunt you for years.

Thankfully, many major credit card issuers offer pre-qualifying applications that make it easier to narrow your choices and limit the hard inquiries placed on your credit report. And what’s even better, pre-applying for a credit card using one of these applications won’t hurt your credit rating. So, let’s take a look at a wide range of credit card pre-approval links from some of the most well-known issuers in the U.S. Our list also includes credit cards with consumers in mind who have less-than-stellar credit.

Chase | Discover | Capital One | Bank of America | Citi | Bad Credit OK | FAQs

Credit Card Pre-Approval for Chase

U.S. consumers charged more than $739 billion to Chase credit cards in 2018 — the second-highest purchase volume of any issuer in America.

Many use Chase cards because of the ultra-attractive Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which gives cardholders a wide array of rewards options that range from travel to cash back and merchandise. Here are the issuer’s three most popular rewards cards, along with links to each card’s easy online application:

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
N/A
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99%-23.99% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

+ See More Chase Cards

But Chase has notoriously high standards for approval, which make pre-qualifying a smart decision. Like most issuers, Chase offers a simple pre-qualifying form to help you in your research.

After supplying a few basic pieces of personal information, Chase will show you if you pre-qualify for any of its cards, and which cards may work best for you.

Not only will you need good-to-excellent credit for Chase to consider your application, but you’ll also have to pass the issuer’s 5/24 rule. This states that if you have opened five or more new bank card accounts (credit or charge cards) within the last 24 months, you’ll most likely receive a rejection when applying for a new Chase credit card — even if you otherwise qualify.

But if you pass through all of these checkpoints, you may find yourself one step closer to adding one of our top-rated cards, listed below, to your wallet.

Credit Card Pre-Approval for Discover

Discover is one of the fastest-growing credit card issuers in America, thanks to its top-notch customer service ratings. Offering rich rewards is nothing new to Discover, as it was the first true rewards credit card when Sears launched the brand in 1986.

The issuer’s pre-qualifying application is a little longer than the average form. Discover asks about your current income, living situation, and bank account status, but the information helps the company decide which cards to match you with.

If the bank does approve you for one of its credit cards, you could end up reaping some huge rewards — like the ones offered by our top-rated cards below.

+ See More Discover Cards

Credit Card Pre-Approval for Capital One

Capital One is among the most prolific credit card issuers in America, with more than 62 million cards in circulation. But just because everyone seems to have a Capital One card doesn’t mean the credit card company approves every applicant.

Instead of blindly applying for any Capital One card, you’re better served if you pre-qualify for one of the issuer’s offerings. The brief application requires basic information to identify the applicant — name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number.

You can also choose which type of card most interests you — be it a travel rewards, cash back, or low-interest rate card. You don’t have to answer this question if you have no preference. Just remember that Capital One limits consumers to only two cards from the issuer, so if you already have a pair of the company’s cards, you’ll likely receive a rejection for any application you submit.

Capital One will let you know if you pre-qualify for any of its cards a few moments after submitting your application. You’ll see which card(s) match your credit profile and the benefits related to each offering.

By doing this, you’ll limit your applications — and research — to only the cards you’re likely to be approved for. You may receive approval for one of our top-rated Capital One credit cards — which offer competitive interest rates and rich rewards. Check them out below.

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Redeem on travel—from vacation rentals to car rentals and more. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.24% - 24.49% (Variable)
$95
Excellent, Good

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49% - 25.49% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+ See More Capital One Cards

Credit Card Pre-Approval for Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the country’s largest financial institutions, which means the company has a pretty massive credit card customer base. The bank has more than 83 million cards in circulation as of 2018.

Bank of America doesn’t require a credit card applicant to have a checking or savings account at the institution — but the bank doesn’t discourage it either. The pre-qualifying application on the bank’s website allows you to sign in to your account to get automatic credit card offers.

If you don’t have an account with the bank, you can still fill out the form to see potential offers. These could include rewards cards and low-interest cards that offer all of the bells and whistles you’d expect in a credit card.

Check out our top-rated cards below to get an idea of what you may qualify for.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Enjoy a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Introductory 0% APR for your first 12 billing cycles for purchases and balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening (balance transfer fee applies)
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
13.99% - 23.99%
$0
Good/Excellent
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Enjoy the flexibility to choose how you redeem your points – redeem for cash back as a deposit into Bank of America® checking or savings accounts, for credit to eligible Merrill Edge® and Merrill Lynch® accounts including 529 accounts, as a statement credit to your credit card, or for gift cards and purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Earn 50,000 online bonus points (a $500 value) after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Get up to a $100 Airline Incidental Statement Credit annually for qualifying purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services, and airline lounge fees - automatically applied to your card statement
  • $95 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 22.99%
$95
Good/Excellent
Business Advantage Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn 3% cash back on your choice of one of the following six categories: gas stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services, or business consulting services
  • Earn 2% cash back on dining, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Get a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening
  • Get 75% more cash back on every purchase when you're a Preferred Rewards for Business Platinum Honors tier member. That means you'll earn 5.25% on your selected choice category, 3.5% on dining, and unlimited 1.75% cash back on all other purchases.
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
N/A
12.24% to 22.24%
$0
Good

+ See More Bank of America Cards

Credit Card Pre-Approval for Citi

While most credit card issuers arm wrestle with each other to see who offers the richest rewards, Citi has quietly built a reputation for offering cards that help consumers eliminate debt fast while reducing interest fees and other charges.

This is most evident in the Citi Simplicity® card, which offers an unheard-of 21-month 0% interest rate on new purchases and balance transfers made within the first four months of opening the card. If you have an existing credit card balance that’s only growing because of interest charges, Citibank may have the solution to help you knock the debt out faster and more cheaply.

And Citi also has one of the easiest pre-qualifying applications to complete. Simply provide your name, address, and the last four digits of your Social Security number, and the bank will show you all of its cards that you may qualify for.

Those cards could include the popular Simplicity offering, or maybe another of our top-rated choices listed below.

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 18 months
13.99% - 23.99% (variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Citi Premier® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • Earn 3X Points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and on air travel and hotel purchases — all other purchases earn 1X Points
  • Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after making $4,000 in purchases with your card within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through thankyou.com, once per calendar year
  • Transfer ThankYou® Points to participating airline loyalty programs including TrueBlue®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, to get flights faster. There is no fee, and the minimum transfer is only 1,000 points.
  • $95 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.99% - 23.99%
$95
Good/Excellent
Citi Prestige® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 5X Points at restaurants and on air travel
  • Earn 3X Points on hotels and cruise lines, all other purchases earn 1X Points
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points ($500 value) after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening
  • Complimentary 4thfourth Night at a hotel of your choice after a minimum 4 consecutive night booking through ThankYou.com (benefit can be used 2X per calendar year)
  • Up to a $250 travel credit every calendar year, no need to enroll
  • Enjoy complimentary access to hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority Pass™ Select
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99% - 23.99%
$495
Excellent

+ See More Citibank Cards

Credit Card Pre-Approval for Bad Credit

If you have bad or no credit, pre-qualifying for a credit card may be the most important part of your research process. That’s because every official credit card application you submit places a hard inquiry on your credit report. These inquiries signal to lenders that you’re looking for a loan or line of credit.

That may seem harmless enough, but if you accrue several of these marks on your credit file, lenders may see you as a higher credit risk.  Each inquiry can bring your credit score down — and a lower credit score makes it even harder to qualify for a credit card.

Most credit scoring models will absorb two or three hard inquiries on your credit report over a two-year period. But more than that will affect your score.

Hard Credit Inquiry vs. Soft Credit Inquiry

On the other hand, a prequalifying application only uses a soft inquiry, which doesn’t affect your credit score and will give you a better idea of the cards you may qualify for.

Several credit card issuers work with consumers who want to improve or establish their credit score. Thankfully, many also offer pre-qualifying applications to make the approval process faster and less painful.

Capital One, for instance, includes its entry-level cards in its pre-qualifying application. The family of Milestone credit cards also offers a similar application that can link your credit score with any of its five cards that might suit your needs.

Indigo also offers an assortment of credit cards that consider applicants with damaged credit. Its pre-qualifying application makes it easier to find the best card for your spending needs.

Check out our top options below for more cards that make it easier to rebuild — or establish — your credit profile.

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee
  • Unlike a prepaid card, there is regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Bank of America® Cash Back Secured Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
  • Earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • A minimum refundable security deposit of $300 (maximum of $4,900) is required to open this account
  • Access your FICO® Score updated monthly for free, within your Mobile Banking app or in Online Banking
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.99%
$0
Bad/Limited
Surge Mastercard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.1/5.0
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
N/A
25.90% - 29.99%
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit

+ See More Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Which Credit Cards Offer Pre-Approval?

When shopping for a credit card, you’re best served by looking at issuers that offer pre-approval applications instead of specific cards that do the same. That’s because an issuer’s application could link you with several cards that you may qualify for.

And like most things in life, there’s strength in numbers.

Take, for example, Capital One. By filling out the bank’s pre-approval application, you could receive several offers and then decide which one best matches your needs. If you go into your research with your heart set on one specific card, you increase the chance of being disappointed if you don’t qualify for that card.

Screenshot of the Capital One Pre-Qualification Application

Filling out Capital One’s pre-qualification form can show you which of the issuer’s cards you may qualify for.

Your best first step is to decide what matters most to you in a credit card. From there, you can decide which issuer offers the best options to fit your desires and attempt to pre-qualify with that bank.

If you’re looking for rewards, you may decide to pre-apply with Chase or Discover. If you need a good balance transfer card, or a card with a longer 0% introductory period, then you may want to consider Citi.

If you need an all-around card that offers good rewards with low rates and a strong network, then Bank of America may be for you. Whichever you choose, keep your options open.

What’s the Difference Between Pre-Approved and Pre-Qualified?

Both terms sound very different but have very similar meanings.

Once upon a time, pre-approved meant the credit card issuer reviewed a soft pull of your credit report and would offer you a credit card if you decided to apply. That’s no longer the case.

Credit card issuers purchase large batches of consumer data from credit reporting bureaus. They use their filters to decide which consumers might meet their minimum standards for approval. They may give specific criteria to the bureau and receive several thousand credit files that meet that criteria. That’s how they choose who receives those pre-approval letters in the mail.

Screenshot of Chase Pre-qualifcation Page

Pre-qualifying for a credit card can give you an idea of your approval chances without impacting your credit.

But they don’t actually guarantee approval — pre-approval is more of an invitation to apply for a credit card. It’s the issuer’s way of saying “You look like you might be a good match for our card. Feel free to apply, and we’ll see if we’re right.”

An issuer can’t guarantee approval, though, until they get to examine your full credit file. And that can’t happen until you apply.

So, even though you may think you’re pre-approved, the issuer could see something when it pulls your credit report that wasn’t visible before. And that could lead to a rejection or less attractive terms than what your pre-approval letter offered.

Still, many experts say that getting a pre-approval offer means you have around a 90% chance of receiving the card if you apply.

A pre-qualifying offer is very similar, but just as uncertain when it comes to approval. Credit card issuers send out millions of such letters each year, but only a percentage of the consumers who receive them will actually qualify for the card that’s offered.

That’s because the credit profile data used to determine pre-qualifications is far broader than the information used for pre-approvals. An issuer may purchase a batch of credit profiles, for example, with credit scores between 650 and 800 and send offers to everyone on the list.

Or, the issuer may apply a filter for consumers who haven’t had a late payment in the last three months. All of this information is useful, but not definitive.

Can You Be Denied a Pre-Approved Credit Card?

As stated above, pre-approval is far from a guarantee. Any offer you receive comes from the version of your credit file the lender viewed — which often happens a month or two before you receive the offer.

A lot can happen in two months. If you’ve experienced any major changes to your credit score during that time, it could greatly impact your chances of final approval.

Even if your credit report doesn’t change in that time frame, you could still find yourself with a rejection, despite the pre-approval. That’s because the issuer doesn’t always examine every part of the soft credit pull before sending you an invitation to apply.

FICO Credit Score Factors

These are the five factors that impact your credit score. If changes to any of these have occurred since the issuer last evaluated your file, you could face denial despite prior pre-approval.

For example, the issuer may look for consumers who haven’t missed a payment in six months. That could trigger tens of thousands of letters sent to consumers across the country. But when one applies, and the issuer sees that he or she has three maxed-out credit cards, it likely won’t end in an offer.

That’s why pre-qualifying applications are helpful — when used with caution. On one hand, it could help you avoid rejection when it comes time to officially apply for a card. On the other, it could give you a false sense of confidence that you’ll receive a specific card that you may not otherwise qualify for.

The best way to truly gain confidence in your credit report is to view it yourself. The government allows every consumer one free credit report each year from each credit reporting bureau. While these reports won’t show you your actual credit score, it will show you all of the vital information that credit card issuers see when reviewing your application.

Make certain that your reports are up-to-date and only display accurate information before applying for a new credit card. Think of your application as a blind date. The credit card issuer doesn’t know who you are or what you look like — but you can spruce yourself up a bit and look better by knowing where your credit report stands and doing what you can to improve it before presenting yourself to the bank.

Reduce Your Chances of Rejection Through Pre-Approval

Credit cards are like cookies. Cookies are yummy and easy to eat, but hard to put down. Credit card applications have a similar effect. If you’ve been rejected, you may feel tempted to apply for another card.

But, like cookies, the more applications you submit, the less satisfying the results. You can avoid collecting hard inquiries on your credit report by filling out a pre-qualifying application to the issuer of your choice. Not only will it give you a clearer picture of your finances, but it’ll keep those pesky inquiries at bay.

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