How to Boost Your Approval Odds

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Boosting Approval Odds

Applying for credit cards helps people build credit and qualify for loans. Credit cards offer a secure way to make purchases, and many offer rewards programs. Opening a credit card and using it responsibly makes it easier to upgrade to a better card and buy a home in the future.

This guide explores how to boost your approval odds for a credit card. We explain the process of checking your credit report, shopping for the best offer, applying for credit cards, and securing a credit card approval.

Check Your Credit Report

A credit report includes personal details and information on all credit accounts and debts. Your credit report determines your credit score and your ability to take out loans and qualify for new credit cards. Credit card companies review your credit report to determine whether to approve your application.

You can also check your credit report. Under federal law, everyone can request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months. Because three agencies offer free credit reports, you can request one from each agency every year.

Review your credit report carefully for any errors. Incorrect personal information can mean someone else’s debts or bankruptcies appear on your report. Also look for any errors in your credit accounts. For example, an incorrect missed payment can hurt your credit score. Similarly, credit reports alert people to fraud. If someone stole your identity and opened credit accounts in your name, the credit report will show that. If you find an error, you can file a dispute with the reporting agency.

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Shop Around

Not all credit cards are created equal. Some offer benefits like a 0% interest rate or rewards points. Others charge annual fees or set strict late fee penalties. How should you pick a credit card? Before submitting applications, shop around to find the best credit card for your needs and circumstances.

Credit cards offer different benefits depending on the applicant. For example, first-time applicants with no credit history typically do not qualify for credit cards with high perks. Applicants under age 21 may struggle to receive a credit card without a high enough income source.

Fortunately, applying for credit cards is not a one-time process. If you receive a rejection letter, you can consider other options to build your credit history.

Consider More Accessible Options

If you struggle with deciding how to get a credit card, remember that first-time credit card applicants benefit from a variety of options. Secured cards, for example, require a deposit, which then functions as the credit limit. This lets applicants build their credit history. However, secured cards often charge annual fees and do not typically offer rewards.

Similarly, student credit cards let college students establish a credit history. These cards typically require proof of eligibility, and students under age 21 may need an independent income source or a cosigner.

Authorized user status offers another option for applicants with no credit history or a bad credit score. Someone with established credit, often a parent or spouse, adds the authorized user to their credit card. These options all help applicants improve their credit scores and qualify for better credit cards.

Remember to Include All Income Streams

Credit card companies evaluate applicants based on their income, credit scores, and credit history. Income also determines your credit limit when companies approve your application. For low-income applicants, leaving out an income source can make or break an application.

When completing credit card applications, make sure to include all income sources, including full-time and part-time jobs. In addition to work where you receive a W-2 or 1099, also list income from side jobs or tips. Applicants over age 21 can also include their spouse’s income or the total household income.

Build Up Your Score and Wait It Out

Sometimes, waiting is the best way to score a credit card approval. Instead of completing credit card applications, focus on building your credit score. Every extra year of credit history improves credit scores, so simply waiting will often increase your approval chances.

Waiting it out does not mean ignoring your credit completely though. Instead, applicants should take active steps to address issues in their credit history.

Credit card companies provide a rejection notice informing applicants of the reasons they did not receive a credit card. For example, applicants with a high student loan balance, a low income, or a recent payment delinquency may not receive approval. By addressing the reasons for the rejection, applicants improve their chances next time. Paying down debt, developing new income streams, and paying bills on time help applicants raise their credit score.

Consider waiting 12 months, which is long enough to qualify for a free credit report, and then submitting new applications. Once you get a credit card, use it wisely.

Portrait of Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

See articles by Genevieve

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