How to Get a Credit Card: 5 Application Tips

Are you wondering how to get a credit card? It’s common for people who don’t have credit, or who have had financial problems in the past, to be unsure what to do to get a credit card and start building their credit.

At Addition Financial, we know that building credit is essential. That’s why we work with our members to help them get on the right track financially. Part of that is knowing how to apply for a credit card, and what to do to improve your chances of being approved.

We’ve put together this list of five application tips to help you get approved for a credit card.

#1: Know and Understand Your Credit Score

The first step you need to take is to know what your credit score is and what it means to potential lenders. Most lending institutions use the FICO score, but some are now using the VantageScore as well.

As a consumer, you’re entitled to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus once a year. Unfortunately, you have to pay to see your score, which might differ between them. Here are the links where you can obtain your report:

Once you have your report, you’ll need to review it. It’s not uncommon for the credit bureaus to have slightly different information. That’s because some creditors may report to only one of the three. You’ll want to start by understanding what your score means. It typically breaks down like this:

  • 549 & below means you have bad credit
  • 550 to 649 means you have poor credit
  • 650 to 699 means you have fair credit
  • 700 to 749 means you have good credit
  • 750 & above means you have excellent credit

If your score is less than 650, don’t despair. Some credit card companies will be willing to work with you by starting you out with a low limit or a secured credit card.

You should also review the individual items on your report. Make note of anything that doesn’t make sense or appears to be inaccurate.

#2: Resolve Items on Your Credit Report

When you review your credit reports, you may notice items that you don’t recognize or that are inaccurate. If that’s the case, you can dispute them with the credit reporting bureaus.

Likewise, you may see old debts and balances that you had forgotten about. If that’s the case, you should contact the creditors and pay them immediately. In fact, most creditors will make you a deal to pay back less than what's owed, as opposed to paying nothing at all.

The more you do ahead of time to manage your credit, the less likely it is that you’ll be rejected when you apply for a credit card.

The Ultimate Guide to Taking Charge of Your Credit Card

#3: Choose Where to Apply

One of the most common mistakes that people make when they apply for a credit card is not doing research ahead of time. Ideally, you want to apply for a card that suits your needs and doesn’t cost too much. You should compare:

  • The institution issuing the card. You can get a first credit card from a credit union, bank, a major credit card issuer like Visa® or Mastercard® or even from a retail store. There are advantages and disadvantages of each. For example, a card from a retailer can be used only on purchases made at the store, where a card from a financial institution can be used anywhere.
  • The annual fees and percentage rates. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to pay an annual fee if the card in question suits your needs. However, you should compare all fees and make sure to read the fine print before you fill out an application.
  • The perks and benefits of the card. Some cards offer airline miles, some offer cash back on purchases and still others may provide you with extended warranties and price protection on purchases.

Comparing these things can help you choose the right card. It’s also worth noting that each application you submit affects your credit report, so don’t apply for every card you see. Make informed decisions and you’ll be better off.

#4: Disclose All Income

The amount of credit you receive is linked to how much money you make. If you have a full-time job but also have income from another source, make sure to include that income on your credit card application.

That said, it’s important not to overstate your income. If you do, you could be charged with fraud. If your supplementary income isn’t stable, use a conservative estimate to protect yourself.

#5: Don’t Give Up

What happens if you apply and get rejected? The good news is that a rejection doesn’t have to be the end of the line. Most financial institutions have a policy that allows applicants to plead their case and be reconsidered.

Make sure that you have a clear argument before you call to appeal the decision. You’ll want to think about your talking points and be able to make a compelling and calm case for yourself.

If your appeal works, then you’ll get your card. And if it doesn’t, you still shouldn’t give up. Keep in mind that dealing with a local credit union like Addition Financial may be easier than dealing with a big, faceless company.

Applying for your first credit card is an important step. We can work with you, helping you to build credit and prepare for the future. Click here to get started.

The content provided here is not legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. Please consult with legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific needs or questions you may have. We do not make any guarantees as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not support any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability or legal obligations for your use of this information.


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