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How to Get Preapproved for a Credit Card | Credit Cards

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When you shop for credit cards, you can typically check your likelihood of approval through a process called preapproval or prequalification. This involves a soft credit pull, which doesn’t hurt your credit score, to see if the odds are in your favor before you apply.

Preapproval or prequalification isn’t a guarantee of approval for a credit card, but you can get an idea of where you stand to improve your confidence when you apply.

Here’s what to know about preapproval or prequalification if you’re in the market for a credit card.

How to Get Preapproved for a Credit Card | Credit Cards

What Is the Difference Between Preapproved and Prequalified?

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The terms preapproved and prequalified are often used interchangeably when it comes to credit cards, but they are not exactly the same. Preapproval and prequalification both aim to match you to a credit card offer, but they differ in who does the matching.

Generally, issuers extend preapproved offers to prescreened consumers because they meet credit requirements. Consumers will initiate prequalified offers, however, to check whether they are eligible for particular credit cards.

Neither prequalification nor preapproval is an application for credit, which means you won’t know for certain about approval until you formally apply.

“It’s essentially a way for card sites to get a bit of your personal information for marketing purposes, and it’s not a reliable measure of your creditworthiness,” says Barry Paperno, former FICO consumer affairs manager.

How to Get Preapproved for a Credit Card

If you want credit card companies to send you preapproved credit card offers, you can opt in at OptOutPrescreen.com. This will allow you to receive prescreened credit offers with good approval odds and, in some cases, to access products exclusively available as prescreened offers.

If you prefer to seek preapproved or prequalified credit card offers individually, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the card issuer’s website and locate the prequalification or preapproval page. You may be able to browse offers based on your information on file with the issuer.
  2. Answer the issuer’s screening questions. Typically, you’ll be asked for personal and financial information, such as your Social Security number and monthly income. If you receive a preapproved offer by mail, it may include an invitation code you must enter when you apply.
  3. Review and compare offers from other issuers.
  4. Complete the application for your chosen card. If your card application is denied, the issuer must explain why in what’s called an adverse action notice.

Which Top Card Issuers Offer Preapproval?

Most major issuers offer preapproval as a way to shop for cards without the risk of hurting your credit score from hard inquiries. Some of these card issuers include:

Note that issuers may not always make preapproval or prequalification available for every credit card. Contact the issuer directly to confirm whether a card you’re interested in is eligible for preapproval or prequalification.

Does a Preapproved Offer Guarantee a Card?

A preapproved or prequalified offer is a good sign of card approval, but it isn’t a sure thing. Your offer simply means you’ve met the initial eligibility criteria for a card, but you still need to apply and get approved.

Getting prequalified or preapproved can give you a sense of whether to move forward with an application. Between the two, a preapproved offer is typically a stronger indicator of approval than a prequalified offer. That’s because the credit card company may work with a credit bureau to target certain people and apply a more rigorous process.

Will Preapproval Hurt Your Credit?

A credit card preapproval or prequalification uses a soft credit inquiry that won’t hurt your credit score. However, if you decide to apply for a preapproved offer, the issuer may request a hard inquiry – and that can affect your credit in the short term.

Make sure you’re submitting a preapproval request and not a full application, says Jeff Richardson, VantageScore’s senior vice president of marketing and communications.

“Always read the fine print, because you might actually be applying for credit and not know it,” Richardson says. “But, in most cases, a preapproval is a soft pull.”

How to Increase Your Chances of Getting a Preapproved Credit Card Offer

Being a creditworthy consumer can increase your chances of getting the best preapproved credit card offers. In general, credit card issuers prefer customers with good to excellent credit. A credit score above 740 means you’re likely to be approved for most cards, Richardson says.

Although the importance of creditworthiness can’t be understated when it comes to credit card offers, you might not have to look far for credit card preapprovals, Richardson says. The most accessible credit card offers may come from an issuer you have a relationship with because the company already has a lot of information about you.

“A lending institution you’ve worked with in the past helps your chances,” Richardson says.

Sarah Goldberg
Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a seasoned financial market expert with a decade of experience. She's known for her analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to communicate complex financial concepts. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance, is a licensed financial advisor, and enjoys reading and traveling in her free time.

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