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.
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:
- 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, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
- No annual fee
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
0% 15 Months
- 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
- Earn 60,000 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®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
- There's no annual fee and your cash rewards don't expire. Each month, as you plan for future purchases, you can change your 3% choice category online or through our mobile app.
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points
- Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees while earning points to use for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees
- Introductory 0%† APR for your first 12 billing cycles for purchases. After that, a Variable APR that's currently 14.99% to 22.99% will apply.
- 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening – which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
- That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 you spend, everywhere, every time.
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
14.99% - 22.99% (Variable)
- 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then 12.99% to 22.99% 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
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
12.99% to 22.99% (Variable)
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.
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.
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.
at Celtic Bank'ssecure website
- 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
See website for Details
25.90% - 29.99%
See website for Details
Bad, Poor Credit
at the issuer'ssecure website
- Pre-qualifying today will not affect your credit score
- Less than perfect credit histories can qualify, even with prior bankruptcy!
- Mobile friendly online access from anywhere
- Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
- Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
$0 - $99
at Netspend'ssecure website
- With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
- No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
- No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
- Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
- Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click "Get My Card " for full details.
- See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.
Up-to $9.95 monthly
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.
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.
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.
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.