You’ve decided to apply for a credit card. Only problem is: You have no idea what you need to apply for the credit card you want- and get approved.

Know What You Need

Decide just what you need your new card for. Is it to establish credit? Improve your credit score? Earn rewards? Travel? Pay regular monthly expenses? Knowing what you need helps you to decide which cards meet those needs.

Also know what information you need to provide on your application. Standard personal information covers the majority of this, name, address, etc. But you will also need to know your income. Once you’ve chosen your card, check their specific requirements and gather everything so you can go through the process quickly and without strain.

Know Your Score

Check your credit score before going any farther. This is one of the biggest determining factors for approval. Be prepared to match your card selection to your credit rating. Some cards will only be approved for applicants with excellent credit. Others are designed for people with low credit scores but have higher rates and offer less rewards.


Improve your score.

If you aren’t trying to get a card immediately, you can take action to improve your credit score. Paying your bills on time, reducing your credit utilization (how big a percentage of your credit limit you owe), and adjusting your credit mix (how much of your credit is revolving, like credit cards, and how much is fixed loans). If you have several cards, increasing your length of credit history by closing newer accounts is a strategy to consider.

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Increase Your Income

Another factor in credit card approval, and credit limits, is your income. It may not be possible to get a raise or change jobs, but part-time income can boost your income slightly. Be sure to consider all your income when you apply, but do not overstate it. Providing false information to get credit is fraud and carries significant criminal penalties.

Choose the Right Card

This could be the most important decision in the entire process. Picking a card that suits your needs, is likely to approve your application, and offers the best numbers, low interest, low annual fee, minimal other fees, and a good rewards program, will make it all feel worth it. While picking the wrong card can result in you stuck with a card that doesn’t suit you, is more expensive than it needs to be, or even damage your credit. Do a thorough comparison, there are site which can help with this, before choosing which company to apply to.

Choose Where To Apply

Different lenders are associated with different cards. Choose one that suits you best and offers the best chance of getting approved. Consider applying with your bank. They already have your information and may offer benefits for existing customers. If you are building credit, look into cards for retail outlets, department stores, for example. These may have less restrictions on applicants, but they tend to have high rates and are usually limited to purchases through that retailer.

Choose How to Apply

Many lenders offer quick and easy online applications. Some sites, like Bank Bazaar, have online applications for multiple lenders, as well as information for comparison between lenders and cards. Online applications offer very quick turnaround times compared to most mailed paper applications or even applying by phone.

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Now that you are prepared, make your move! Fill out that application and send it in. But don’t expect an instant answer. Some approvals, and denials, are immediate, but others can take some time. You may get a message telling you how long to expect to wait, or not. Be patient. Multiple applications in a short period can damage your credit score. Especially if they are not approved.

If you are denied, don’t despair! Denials come with an explanation of why you were denied. If you understand, and agree, you can work to improve that part of your application. If you don’t understand, or don’t agree, you will get information about contacting the lender to be reconsidered. Review your denial and prepare to explain why you are still a good credit risk. Be ready and be polite! If you talk politely with the customer representative, ask questions to get them to help you, you have a better chance of getting approved or at least getting a detailed explanation of why they denied you, and maybe what is recommended to help you get approved next time.

With excellent credit, high income, and low utilization, getting a credit card is easy. For the rest of us, make sure you know where you stand, and make the best choices for you. This will be your credit card. Make sure you get the one that is best for you.

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