Most applications for credit cards are fairly straightforward, however, you must meet certain financial requirements in order to get approved. So, if you’re worried you aren’t creditworthy, or you don’t know how to qualify for a credit card, we’ll walk you through the process and discuss what you can do to boost your credit rating and how to find the right credit card for you.
To qualify for a new credit card, most companies will require an SSN, steady employment, and a good credit history. Top credit card companies may even require a minimum of five years of good credit history in order to qualify. However, secured cards will offer more lenient requirements which can make it possible for even people with poor credit to qualify.
Basic Credit Card Requirements
If used responsibly, credit cards can actually make it much easier to track your expenses and manage your finances from month to month. If you pay back your charges in full each month, using a card can also be completely free. Many cards these days also offer rewards, points, and bonuses each time you use your card, which is definitely an incentive to get one.
If you have a steady income and usually pay your bills on time, then qualifying for a credit card shouldn’t be a problem. But if you have bad credit, often pay your monthly bills late, and frequently go from job to job, then finding a credit card company that will approve you can get tricky.
Most credit card companies have the following requirements:
- You must be at least twenty-one years of age. If you’re under twenty-one you can still qualify, however, you may need to provide proof of income.
- You must have a social security number. Non-citizens without an SSN will not qualify.
- You must have a steady source of income. Most companies will ask you about your estimated monthly income. A bank will not lend money if you’re unemployed and have no way to pay off your debt. Only report your available income, taking into consideration what income you have earmarked for other things. A person’s reported income is just one of the many factors they will use to determine whether or not you qualify for a credit card. In most cases, reporting your income is on an honor system, although some banks can ask for proof of income.
- Full-time students may still qualify for a credit card even if they only have part-time employment
- Credit history will also affect your credit card application. An unsecured card will require an applicant to have an established credit history. Most credit card companies will require a credit score over seven hundred.
Is It Possible to Get Approved for a Credit Card with Poor Credit?
Generally speaking, a credit card company with more lenient requirements will have higher interest rates and higher fees.
If you have bad credit or you don’t have a credit history, then you’ll need to apply for a secure credit card. Companies that offer this type of credit card will require you to deposit cash into a bank account before you can begin using your new card. Usually, the deposited amount can range from one to two hundred dollars.
To learn how you can easily repair your credit in six months, take a look at our credit repair guide.
Applying for a New Card
If you’ve decided to apply for a credit card, your first step is to find the right card based on your needs. Check out a card’s reward system, approval requirements, late payment fees, and look for any potential hidden fees.
Once you’ve found a card you like you can complete their basic application.
You can apply for a credit card online or on the phone. All online applications ask the same information and will provide you with a decision in less than five minutes.
Online credit card applications will usually ask for the following basic information:
- Gross annual income
- Date of birth and name
- Mother’s maiden name
- Housing situation
- How long you’ve lived at your current residence
Since a credit card application is considered a legal document, if a company ever tries to collect a debt from you they must provide evidence that you opened an account. This can be accomplished by showing proof that you filled out an application and used an electronic signature to seal the deal.
Adding an Authorized User
If you want to add authorized users to your account the bank will ask for their information including name, date of birth, and social security number. An authorized user will also receive a credit card in their name and can make purchases or pay bills online using the card. An authorized user isn’t the same thing as a cosigner. This means you alone will be responsible for paying off the charged debt.
If the card you’ve chosen allows balance transfers, then you can request to have the balances of other credit cards transferred to the new card. In order to do a balance transfer, you must provide the creditor’s name, transfer amount, payment address, and your account number.
Remember, most cards will not allow you to transfer balances from other accounts that use the same bank, or the bank may only allow you to transfer a portion of the balance.
If your balance transfer request is approved a bank may or may not notify you immediately.
When You Qualify
If you qualify for a new card, you’ll know within minutes. The card should arrive in the mail in two to three weeks. Once you receive your card you’ll need to activate it online or via phone.
If you don’t qualify, the bank will send a letter in the mail listing the reasons why your application was denied, along with information regarding how to obtain a copy of your credit report.