Will I be accepted for a credit card?
In most cases you won’t know if you will be accepted for a credit card until you apply – but each application leaves a footprint on your credit file, so applying for various cards at once is not the best option.
It’s always a good idea to give yourself the best chance of being accepted before making the application, to reduce the risk of any damage being done to your credit score.
Data collected by Mintel, correct as of May 2018
How do lenders decide who to give credit cards to?
While a credit card provider’s requirements can vary, they often consider the following criteria before making a decision:
- Age – you’ll have to be over 18 to qualify for a credit card in almost all cases.
- Earnings – for some credit cards or providers you might need to be earning a certain amount to be accepted, while others might at least require you to be in employment.
- Financial history – if you have been bankrupt in the past or have a County Court Judgment (CCJ) these might prevent you from getting a credit card.
- Credit score – one of, if not the, most important factor is your credit history and credit score, which will tell the lender how much of a credit risk you are.
What is my credit score?
Your credit score is a figure determined by lenders who run checks on your credit report – they use this score to determine whether they’ll accept your credit application. There are a number of factors that can influence your score, and the higher it is the more likely you’ll be successful – read our guide to what affects your credit score to learn more.
How can I improve my chances of being accepted?
To improve your chances of being accepted for a credit card, you can do the following:
- Check your credit report
It’s important to know where you stand in terms of your credit rating and score before making any applications. This is because if you make an application and your credit score doesn’t meet the lender’s requirements, you’ll probably be rejected – and each rejection could make it less likely you'll be accepted in the future.
It’s best to check what your situation is and whether there are any mistakes on your report that you can correct, then see what credit cards you can apply for before taking any further steps.
- Cut your debt down
The ratio of your outstanding debt to the amount of credit you have available is known as your credit utilisation ratio, and the larger your debt the larger the ratio will be.
Lenders may often see a high credit utilisation ratio as a sign that you aren’t responsible with credit, but if you’re able to reduce your debt and lower your ratio this can help prove you’re responsible borrower and lenders may be more willing to give you credit.
- Close unused accounts
On the flipside, if you have a lot of available credit that you’re not using, it can be sensible to close down those unused accounts.
- Build a credit history
Simple steps such as paying your bills on time or borrowing and instantly repaying small manageable amounts of money, while staying in the same job, at the same address, or with the same bank can also help prove financial stability. Signing up for the electoral register can also help improve your credit rating.
- Get your application right
When you come to apply for a credit card, remember to complete your application carefully and pay attention to details. If you make mistakes or withhold the truth on your application form this could result in a rejection, which could damage your credit score.
You should also try to apply for cards you’re more likely to be accepted for by using our Eligibility Checker. Learn more about the process with our guide to applying for a credit card.
- Take out a credit builder credit card
Some lenders even offer credit builder credit cards specifically for those who would otherwise struggle to get credit. These cards often come with higher interest rates, but you can use them to rebuild your credit score by always making your repayments on time and in full.
Data collected by MoneySuperMarket between August 2016 and August 2018, correct as of September 2018
How does Eligibility Checker work?
To get an understanding of your eligibility for the credit cards available, you need to provide personal information including your name, your annual income and the name of your bank.
You’ll also be asked to declare your residential status, marital status and address.
If you know which type of card you want to compare, you can select this in the Eligibility Checker process – or you can view all cards and see which ones you’re most likely to be accepted for.
While our Eligibility Checker is a helpful, free tool for comparing credit cards, it doesn’t guarantee acceptance and should only be used as an indication.
Credit card providers such as Capital One, Virgin Money and Barclaycard have signed up for our Eligibility Checker and we are continually working on adding more providers. This means the list returned to you won't feature all credit cards that are available on the market – keep that in mind when doing a comparison.
Most people who have been rejected for a credit card either have one, or a combination, of the following issues on their credit rating: little or no history of borrowing, missed payments, loan defaults, County Court Judgments and/or multiple applications.
Where to next?
Comparing credit cards
Finding the right credit card is easier when you shop around, and by comparing deals on MoneySuperMarket you can browse through credit card offers from a number of different providers. All you have to do is provide a few details about yourself and your financial situation and you’ll be given a list of credit cards tailored to your needs.
You’ll then be able to see cards that are best suited to you, and you can compare them by details such as interest rates, rewards, and how likely you are to be accepted. Once you’ve picked the one you want, you can click through to the provider’s site and apply – once this is done, they will make the decision on whether or not they’ll lend to you based on your credit report and history.
If they accept your application, the provider will set your credit limit and interest rate – this won’t always be the same as the advertised rate – and once your card arrives you’ll just need to activate it, then you’ll be ready to go.
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Moneysupermarket is a credit broker – this means we’ll show you products offered by lenders. We never take a fee from customers for this broking service. Instead we are usually paid a fee by the lenders – though the size of that payment doesn’t affect how we show products to customers.