We've all been there. You're filling out a credit card application online and you're about ready to hit the submit button. “But what if I'm not approved?," you may ask yourself with a bit of hesitancy.
Many credit card issuers offer something called prequalification. This means you may be able to check if you qualify for a credit card before applying, and without generating a hard inquiry into your credit report.
In this article, we'll share more about the following:
- What it means to be prequalified
- Some ways to find out if you are prequalified
- Whether or not this process may affect your credit score
What does it mean to be prequalified for a credit card?
Prequalification means that you've initiated a request to a credit card company to find out if you might be approved for a card, or that the issuer has reached out to you to let you know you may be approved for a particular card if you were to apply. The credit card issuer may then looks at your financial profile and shows you credit cards and offers that you might qualify for. It's not a guarantee that you'll ultimately get approved.
Though there is no minimum credit score needed to prequalify, some issuers may require basic financial information such your annual income and monthly housing payment. Others may also ask for your debt obligations and how much you have in savings. Requirements ultimately depend on the card you're considering and the issuing financial institution.
You'll want to note that this process is different than being preapproved. Prequalification and preapproval are different ways for you to review your credit card options.
Preapproved credit card offers differ from prequalified ones because a lender has already conducted a preliminary assessment of your creditworthiness and determined that you meet certain criteria. It signifies that you may have met the initial requirements to make you eligible for that specific credit card.
Where can I find out if I'm prequalified?
There are several places where you can check and see if you're prequalified for a credit card.
Prescreened offers sent to you in the mail or email
Almost every major credit card issuer sends prescreened offers to potential customers in the mail or through email. If you receive one of these offer letters, it does not mean that you have officially applied for that card or even that you have an account with that financial institution. It simply means they believe you may be interested in that particular card and may get approved if you moved forward with the application.
Typically, this prequalification offer will include an invitation to apply online or over the phone and provides instructions on how to do so. Before applying, be sure to read the terms and conditions of the offer.
If you no longer want to receive credit card offers in the mail, it can be easy to opt out. One way of doing so is to visit OptOutPrescreen.com and provide a few details about yourself. Once submitted, your name will not appear on these mailing lists for five years.
Check to see if you are prequalified online
Not all card issuers offer online prequalification, but many do. You may be able to fill out a simple form found on the card issuer's website. These forms will often ask you to provide basic personal information such as name, address and last four digits of your Social Security number.
Once the information is entered, you may be shown credit cards offers from the issuer.
Visit a local bank branch
If you'd like some in-person assistance, you can visit a local bank branch and inquire about prequalification. If you go to a bank you already have a relationship with, you may be able to increase your odds of approval, but it's not guaranteed.
Does getting prequalified help you get approved for a credit card?
Getting prequalified for a credit card can be a helpful indicator, but it doesn't guarantee approval for the card. Prequalification is simply an initial assessment based on limited information you provide to the card issuer. The final decision depends on the issuer's evaluation of your complete application and overall creditworthiness. Even if you were prequalified, there is still a chance you could be denied if you don't meet the approval criteria for that particular card.
While prequalification does not guarantee approval, it could give you an idea of which credit cards you may be eligible for, allowing you to focus on those options when applying.
Does getting prequalified for a credit card affect your credit score?
Getting prequalified for a credit card does not negatively affect your credit score. This is because card issuers typically use what's called a soft inquiry during the prequalification process. A soft inquiry is a limited view of someone's credit profile and does not impact your credit score.
If you choose to move forward with the credit card application, the card issuer will use a hard inquiry. This is a formal request to a credit bureau to review your credit report in detail. Hard inquiries may cause a temporary drop in your credit score.
Getting prequalified for a credit card is a way of gauging the chances that you'll get approved without having a hard inquiry hit your credit report.
There are a couple ways you can check if you're prequalified — on a card issuer's website or in person at a bank branch.
Before initiating the prequalification process, you may want to consider looking at your credit score. Chase gives you this option through Chase Credit Journey®, a free service that allows you to track your credit score and offers tools to help you learn how to build your credit. You'll receive your Experian™ credit report and a free credit score, plus credit monitoring alerts so you'll know of any changes.