The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, December 14, 2019

18 Credit Card Pre-Approval Links

18 Credit Card Pre-Approval Links

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Posted: September 18, 2019

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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.

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

Credit Card Pre-Approval for Capital One

Capital One is among the most prolific credit card issuers in America, with nearly 90 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
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 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; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
  • 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
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

+ See More Capital One Cards

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 used their 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. The flexible program even allows you to transfer your rewards points to several existing loyalty programs that can increase their value.

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.

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 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!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.49% - 25.24% 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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.49% - 25.49% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

+ See More Chase Cards

Credit Card Pre-Approval for Discover

Discover is one of the fastest-growing credit card issuers in America — partly due to its popular rewards matching program. The issuer will match the amount of rewards — miles or cash back — you accrue in your first year on many of its cards.

There’s no limit to your matched earnings, and Discover pays out all of the rewards on your first anniversary with the card. 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 match rewards — like the ones offered by our top-rated cards below.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+ See More Discover 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 nearly 60 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

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings
  • Plus, earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on everything else
  • Bonus rewards capped at $2,500 is combined bonus category purchases each quarter
  • No annual fee
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles
0% Intro APR for 12 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
  • 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days — that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want — you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
N/A
17.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
BankAmericard® Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then 15.24% to 25.24% Variable APR
  • $0 Intro Balance transfer fee during first 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10).
  • No annual fee
  • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
  • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
15.24% to 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/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

0.0/5.0
  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases.
  • Receive 0% for 18 months on balance transfers made within 4 months of account opening
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back; transfer fee applies
  • 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
  • No categories to track and no caps on cash back
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 18 months
15.74% - 25.74% (variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • No late fees, No penalty rate, and No annual fee... EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for the first 21 months (transfers must be made in the first 4 months)
  • 0% Intro APR on new purchases for the first 12 months
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day - just say "representative"
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 21 months
16.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on  net new purchases with your card in the first 3 months of account opening
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; balance transfers must be made within 4 months of account opening
  • Points are redeemable for gift cards to popular retailers, restaurants, and department and home stores. 2,500 ThankYou® Points can be redeemed for a $25 gift card at thankyou.com
  • Earn 2X Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations
  • Earn 1X Points on all other purchases
  • Round-up to the nearest 10X points on every purchase
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
$0
Good/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

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • 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
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad
Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit
Total Visa® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

3.5/5.0
  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine Visa credit card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • If approved, simply pay a Program Fee to open your account and access your available credit
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Terms
See Terms
Fair, Bad 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.