How to Get Preapproved for a Credit Card

Preapproval is a quick process that checks your eligibility for card offers. It does not harm your score.

Prequalification or preapproval is a common process used when you are shopping for credit cards. It allows you to check the likelihood of your application being approved. It involves a soft pull of your credit report, which does not affect your score. This is done to determine if you have a good chance before applying.

It's not a guarantee that you will be approved for a card. But you can use it to boost your confidence before you apply.

If you are in the market to buy a credit card, here's what you need to know about prequalification or preapproval.

What is the difference between prequalified and preapproved?

Prequalification and preapproval are used interchangeably in relation to credit cards. However, they are not the same. Both preapproval and a prequalification are aimed at matching you with a credit offer. However, they differ on who matches the two.

In general, issuers extend offers preapproved to prescreened consumers if they meet the credit requirements. Prequalified offers are initiated by consumers to determine if they qualify for a particular credit card.

Prequalification or preapproval does not constitute an application for credit. You will only know the outcome of your approval if you apply formally.

Barry Paperno is a former FICO consumer affairs director. He says that the card sites are able to use your personal data for marketing and this does not represent a true measure of creditworthiness.

How to get pre-approved for a credit card allows you to opt-in if you wish for credit card companies send you offers of preapproved credit cards. You will be able to receive credit card offers that are prescreened with high approval rates and in some cases access exclusive products.

Follow these steps if you want to search for preapproved or prequalified offers of credit cards individually.

Find the prequalification page on the website of the card issuer. Answer the screening questions. You'll typically be asked to provide personal and financial details, including your Social Security Number and monthly income. Fill out the card application. The issuer will explain the reason for denying your application in an adverse action notification.

Which top card issuers offer preapproval?

Preapproval is offered by most major card issuers as a way for you to shop without risking damaging your credit score through hard inquiries. These card issuers are:

Wells Fargo

Prequalification or preapproval may not be available on all credit cards. To confirm if a credit card is eligible for either prequalification or preapproval, contact the issuer directly.

Is a preapproved offer a guarantee of a card?

Prequalification or preapproval is a good indication of approval for a card, but is not a guarantee. You've simply met the eligibility criteria to get a credit card. However, you must still apply and be approved.

Prequalification or preapproval can help you decide whether to proceed with a job application. Preapproved offers are more likely to be approved than prequalified ones. This is because the credit card provider may target specific people with a more stringent process.

Does Preapproval hurt your credit?

Prequalification or preapproval of a credit card uses a soft inquiry, which won't affect your credit score. If you apply for a credit card preapproved offer, however, the issuer will request a hard credit inquiry, which can negatively impact your score in the short-term.

Jeff Richardson is the senior vice president for marketing and communications at VantageScore.

Richardson advises: "Always check the fine print because you may be applying for credit without realizing it." In most cases, preapprovals are a soft pull.

How to increase your chances of getting a preapproved credit card offer

Creditworthiness can help you get the best offers on preapproved credit cards. Credit card companies prefer to work with customers who have good or excellent credit. Richardson states that if your credit score is above 740, you are likely to get approved for many cards.

These actions can help you improve your credit score and attract better offers for credit cards.

You can have a variety of accounts, including credit cards and loans.

Richardson says that although creditworthiness is important, it's not the only factor to consider when looking for credit card offers. You might find preapprovals of your credit cards in a short time. You may find that the most convenient credit card offers come from an issuer with whom you already have a good relationship because they know a lot about you.

Richardson advises that a lending institution with which you have worked in the past can help your chances.