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Credit card application tips

Find out how you can apply for a new credit card and follow these application tips to increase your chances of getting approved.

Applying for a credit card can be quick and pain-free, even if you have bad credit or no credit at all. Find out how you can apply for a credit card in Canada, and follow these credit card application tips to increase your chances of getting approved and finding the right credit card for your personal needs.

How to apply for a credit card

You can follow these basic steps for how to apply for a credit card and how to fill out a credit card application:

  1. Compare providers and cards. Compare multiple credit cards and providers to find the best fit for your unique set of needs, budget and lifestyle.
  2. Fill out an application. Visit the website of your provider or visit your bank in person to apply for a credit card in Canada.
  3. Input your personal information. Sign up with personal information such as your name, address, Social Insurance Number and other pertinent details.
  4. Wait for a decision. Click submit and wait for your credit card provider to approve your credit card application.
  5. Get your credit card in the mail. If you get approved, your credit card should arrive in the mail within a couple of weeks and then you just need to activate it to start spending.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
RBC Cash Back Mastercard
N/A
Up to 2% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get 2% cash back on grocery store purchases, and up to 1% cash back on all other qualifying purchases and pre-authorized payments.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
5% cash back
Up to 3% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to max. spend of $2,500). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Tangerine World Mastercard
10% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 10% cash back (up to $100) on up to $1,000 of purchases in the first 2 months Until July 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
RBC Avion Visa Infinite
55,000 points
Up to 1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get up to 55,000 Welcome Points. Get 35,000 points on approval and 20,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 in your first 6 months. Apply by September 16, 2022.
OFFER
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
10% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Earn 10% cash back (up to $100) on up to $1,000 of purchases in the first 2 months Until July 31, 2022. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening, 1% transfer fee applies).
EXCLUSIVE
Neo Financial Mastercard
Get $25.00
Average 5% cash back
19.99% - 24.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 600
Get $25 when you sign up for the Neo Financial Mastercard. Plus, earn bonuses like 15% cashback on your first purchase at most partners, and earn an average of 5% cashback at thousands of partners and at least 1% cashback guaranteed.
RBC Rewards+ Visa
3,500
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Earn up to 3,500 RBC Rewards points by going digital in the first 60 days.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
0.99% rate on balance transfers for 9 months
N/A
12.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($20 thereafter)
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a rate of 0.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 2% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Walmart Rewards Mastercard
Up to $25 in Reward Dollars
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.89%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 650
Get up to $25 in bonus Walmart Reward Dollars.
American Express Cobalt Card
30,000 points
Up to 5x points per $1 spent
20.99%
$155.88
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 30,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn 2,500 Membership Rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $500 in net purchases on your card (up to 30,000 points).
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Compare up to 4 providers

What do you need to apply for a credit card?

Consider supplying this information when determining what you need to apply for a credit card:

Personal details




Employment details


Financial information


Card preferences

What do credit card providers consider when qualifying cardholders?

Your potential credit card provider may consider the following criteria when determining what you need to apply for a credit card in Canada:

CriteriaReason for assessingSample requirements
Credit scoreYour credit score tells your credit card provider how likely you are to pay your bills on time.Basic card: 550 or higher
Premium card: 650 or more
Annual incomeYour annual income helps your provider make sure you can afford your annual fee and a high credit limit.Basic card: $12,000 or more
Premium card: $60,000 or more
Debt loadYour debt load gives your provider a snapshot of how much money you already owe.Less than 36%
Credit utilization ratioYour credit utilization ratio lets your provider know how likely you are to max out your credit cards.Less than 30%

Why was my credit card application denied?
credit-card-application738x185

Credit card application tips: Getting approved

Follow these steps to increase your chance of getting approved when you apply for a credit card in Canada:

1. Apply for a basic credit card

You can choose to apply for a secured credit card or a no-fee credit card to get approved:

  • Secured credit card. You’re guaranteed approval for a secured credit card but you’ll have to secure your credit limit with a deposit. This type of card can help you build up your credit score if you have bad credit or no credit.
  • Fee-free credit card. Fee-free credit cards tend to come with less strict eligibility criteria and lower credit limits. You’ll earn fewer benefits and rewards with these cards, but you won’t have to pay an annual fee.
  • Student credit card. You may be eligible to apply for a student credit card if you’re attending college or university. These cards come with lower income requirements, decent rewards and no annual fee.

2. Make sure you meet eligibility requirements

Check the eligibility requirements before you apply for a credit card in Canada. While requirements can differ between cards, they usually include:

  • Age. You must be at least 18 years of age, or the age of majority in your province or territory.
  • Residency status. You will need to be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident with a valid Canadian address. You can usually also apply if you’re a landed immigrant who is employed with a steady income.
  • Income. You will need to have a steady income. Some providers require that you meet a minimum income requirement.
  • Credit history. You must have good to excellent credit history to apply for a credit card in most cases. If you’re struggling with no or low credit, you can rebuild your credit score with a secured credit card.

3. Improve your credit score

You can apply for your credit score from Canada’s major credit bureaus (Equifax or TransUnion). If your score is below 650, you may want to follow these tips to build your credit so that you can apply for a credit card you want in the future.

  • Use a secured credit card. Build your credit score when you apply for a credit card that you secure with a deposit.
  • Correct errors on your credit report. Double check your credit report to make sure there are no errors on it that could be pulling down your credit score.
  • Mix up your credit types. Apply for a credit card along with a loan or line of credit to mix up your credit types and improve your score.
  • Avoid applying for more than one card at a time. Try to apply for one card at a time to avoid getting multiple hard pulls on your credit file (which brings your score down).
  • Avoid closing old credit cards. Keep your old credit cards open even if you don’t intend to use them as this will give you a longer credit history (and a higher score).
  • Lower your credit utilization ratio. Find out what portion of your available credit you’re using to determine your credit utilization ratio, and lower this ratio if possible.

How to calculate your credit utilization ratio

Add up your outstanding credit limits and balances for all credit cards you have open. Divide your total credit limit by your total balance to get your credit utilization ratio. For example, if you have a credit limit of $15,000 across 3 cards, and owe $12,000, your credit utilization ratio will be 0.8 (or 80% from 12,000/15,000). You should aim to make your ratio 30% or less to increase your chance of getting approved for credit.

4. Be thorough with your application

Come prepared and make sure you’ve filled out your application accurately and honestly by following these credit card application tips:

  • Double check your details. Double check all your personal data since mistakes can slow down the sign-up process or result in a rejected application.
  • Organize your documents. Prepare yourself to apply for a credit card online by compiling proof of ID and residency status, income statements and other documents.
  • Avoid making fraudulent statements. Avoid lying to meet eligibility requirements when you apply for a credit card as your provider may find out and you could get in trouble.

Credit card application tips: Choosing the right credit card

1. Compare your options

Your first step to apply for a credit card that is best for your personal needs is to compare your options with multiple providers and multiple credit cards.

FeatureWhat to look for
Return on points or cashbackLook at the rewards you’ll earn for every dollar you spend, especially for frequent purchases like gas and groceries. Apply for a credit card with the highest return for the lowest annual fee.
Welcome bonusesCompare the bonus offers for multiple credit cards as these can sometimes give you a year’s worth of rewards or more.
Perks and benefitsDecide if you want to apply for a credit card with tons of benefits or if you’re looking for a minimalist card with no annual fee.
Interest ratesFigure out what you’ll have to pay in interest on outstanding balances to make sure you don’t get stuck with a bigger bill than you can handle. Look for a low-interest card if you intend to carry a large balance.
Annual feeDo a bit of math to figure out if paying an annual fee is worth the higher return you’ll get on points/cashback and benefits.
Other feesRead the fine print to see what other fees you’ll pay, and apply for a credit card that won’t charge you more for certain types of transactions or services.

2. Choose the right rewards program

You’ll usually be able to choose from different types of credit cards depending on what type of rewards you want to earn, and how you intend to use your card:

  • Rewards credit card. Consider a rewards card if you’d like to exchange your points for travel, merchandise or gift cards.
  • Cash back credit card. Choose a cash back card if you’d rather earn money to pay down your credit card balance.
  • Low interest credit card. Apply for a credit card with low interest if you plan to carry a large balance and don’t care about earning rewards.
  • Balance transfer credit card. Get a balance transfer card if you want to transfer money from other credit cards to pay your overall balance down at a lower interest rate.

3. Choose the best mix of benefits

You’ll want to make sure that you apply for a credit card that offers the best mix of benefits that you’ll actually use. You may get the following types of benefits with basic and premium cards:

Basic credit cardPremium credit card
Typical benefits
  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection
  • Zero liability coverage
  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection
  • Zero liability coverage
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption
  • Baggage insurance
  • Hotel/motel burglary insurance
  • Car rental insurance
  • Mobile device protection
  • Roadside assistance
Sample perks
  • Usually no additional perks
  • Lounge access
  • Free checked baggage
  • Companion flights
  • Travel discounts
Annual fee$0 to $99$100 to $150

Bottom line

You can apply for a credit card in Canada by filling out an application and following our standard credit card application tips. Find out how to apply for a credit card in Canada, and learn what you can do to pick the best card for you and improve your chances of getting approved.

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