How to get approved for a credit card
September 19, 2023 3 min video
While there’s no way to know for sure whether your credit card application will get the green light, these five tips may help increase your chances before you apply for a credit card.
- Practicing good credit habits, like staying below your credit limit, is one way to improve your chances of getting approved for a credit card.
- Card issuers might look at how your debt compares to your income, so lowering your ratio could help before applying for a credit card.
- Checking to see whether you’re pre-approved for credit cards can help you find out which ones you may be eligible for. And it doesn’t hurt your credit score.
- Even if you’re still building your credit, there may be a credit card for you. A secured card is one option, and you may be able to eventually graduate to an unsecured card.
5 ways to improve your chances of approval for a credit card
Before you submit your credit card application, consider these five tips that can help you get approved.
1. Use credit responsibly
From car loans to rent to credit cards, staying current on the money you owe and always paying on time can help you build good credit—no matter where you are on your credit journey. And credit card issuers may look at your payment history when they consider your application.
Avoiding late credit card payments isn’t the only good credit habit worth following. Consider these tips too:
- Aim to pay off the balance. Paying more than the minimum amount due—whenever possible—might help you lower your balances faster. This could mean paying less in credit card interest.
- Stay below your credit limit. Experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30% across all your revolving credit accounts.
- Apply only for the credit you need. If you apply for multiple credit cards or loans over a short period of time, lenders may incorrectly think your financial situation has changed for the worse. Plus, those hard inquiries could affect your credit score temporarily.
2. Monitor your credit scores and credit reports
Credit scores rate your creditworthiness based on many factors—like the number of recently opened accounts and your payment history. Card issuers typically look at scores and your credit history when you apply for a credit card. The better your scores, the more likely you may be to get approved.
Your credit scores are based on the information in your credit reports. And that means errors can potentially hurt your credit scores. Learn how to get free copies of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. And if you spot an error, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has information about how to dispute credit report errors.
You could also use CreditWise from Capital One. With CreditWise, you can access your free TransUnion® credit report and VantageScore® 3.0 credit score anytime, without negatively impacting your score. CreditWise is free and available to everyone—not just Capital One cardholders.
3. Be aware of your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio
4. See whether you’re pre-approved
With the Capital One pre-approval tool, you can see what card offers you may be eligible for before you apply. It’s simple and straightforward—and you could receive a response in as little as 60 seconds. It requires some basic information and won’t hurt your credit score since it uses a soft inquiry.
5. Understand that building credit takes time
There are no shortcuts to building credit. It takes time and responsible financial behavior. Even if now isn’t the right time for the credit card you hoped for, there are other ways to build credit. You could consider options like applying for a secured credit card, becoming an authorized user, setting up a joint account or applying for a credit-builder loan.
So-called alternative scoring methods are also sometimes used to help determine creditworthiness. So keeping up with bills for rent and cellphones could help you build credit if the activity is reported to credit bureaus.
Credit card approval FAQ
Check out these frequently asked questions about getting approved for a credit card:
Why can’t I get approved for a credit card?
If your application is declined, lenders are required to tell you why. Some common reasons for not getting approved for a credit card include:
- Having a low credit score
- Acquiring too much debt
- Having too many hard inquiries on your credit reports
- Having a limited or no credit history
- Not being old enough
- Not completely filling out the application
Keep in mind that Capital One pre-approval can help you find which credit cards you may be eligible for. And while it doesn’t guarantee approval, it can help you apply with greater certainty.
Can I get approved for a credit card with bad credit?
Which card is easiest to get approved for?
Whether you get approved for a particular credit card depends on a variety of factors. Credit card issuers typically look at creditworthiness when they’re reviewing applications. If you’re working to build or rebuild your credit, a secured credit card could be a good option. And if you’re a college student, you might want to apply for a student credit card.
What is the best credit card to get approved for?
Getting approved for a credit card in a nutshell
It can be exciting to get a new credit card. But before you submit your application, there are some things you could do that might help you get approved.
Building credit takes time. But you can practice good credit habits with existing accounts to get started. That means doing things like paying on time and keeping your credit utilization ratio low.
Before you apply, see whether you’re pre-approved with Capital One. It’s a way to check for credit card offers with no impact on your credit score.