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How to get a credit card

Follow these 3 steps to add a new credit card to your wallet

Applying online is one of the most popular options if you want to get a credit card thanks to its convenience, speed and security. But if you’ve never applied online, or if you have concerns about the process, follow this step-by-step guide to help you with your next credit card application, including options for applying in-person or over the phone.

How to get a credit card online

1. Compare credit cards

As the most important step to finding the best card for you, start by thinking about what you want a credit card for and then consider the different features, rates and fees that are available on different cards. In the process, consider a few additional factors that can help you slim down your selection.

Identify your credit score

Your credit score is a measure of your credit history and plays a large role in whether an issuer will decide to offer you a particular card. If the credit card you have an eye on requires an excellent credit score and your score rests in the fair range, you’ll want to look for another card that’s obtainable in your credit score range.

Review credit card types

There are a wide variety of credit cards to choose from, with each type offering certain advantages depending on your needs. For example, if you travel often and want to earn some value out of your spending, a hotel, airline or general travel card is a great fit. Others, such as a balance transfer card, can help you pay down existing debt on better terms.

Choose where to apply

If you’re concerned about your eligibility for a certain range of cards, take a look at credit cards that your existing bank or credit union offers. Presuming your banking history is good, it may give you an edge when it comes to your application.

2. Go straight to the credit card online application form

Once you’ve found the card you want, choose the Apply now button. This will take you to a secure online application, where you can review all the card details before filling out the application form.

Credit card application eligibility requirements

Before you get started with an online credit card application, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. These can vary between cards but usually include the following:

  • Minimum age. You’ll need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card.
  • Residency status. Most cards are only available to citizens and permanent residents of the US, while some cards may be available to temporary residents as well.
  • Credit score. You’ll generally need a good credit score to get approved for most credit cards. However, there are credit cards for those with poor credit or no credit history.

Preapproval

Some banks will let you check for preapproval when applying for cards. To check for preapproval, you’ll need to submit a few details such as your Social Security number.

Besides letting you know whether you’re likely to be approved for a card, preapproval doesn’t result in a hard pull on your credit score. These “soft pulls” can prevent the standard dips in your credit score caused by a standard credit card application.

3. Provide your details and submit the application

Once you’ve confirmed all the card details, you’re ready to fill out the online credit card application form by providing a range of personal and financial details. This process usually takes around 10 to 20 minutes.

After you’ve completed the different sections of the online credit card application form, you’ll get a summary of all the details you’ve provided. This gives you a chance to check that all the information is accurate before you complete the application. In some cases, reviewing these details could be the difference between getting approved or declined, so it’s an important step to take.

Once you’ve confirmed your information, simply select the Submit button and you should get a response in 60 seconds.

What details do I need to apply for a credit card?

You’ll need to have the following information in front of you when applying for credit cards online:

  • Personal details
  • Contact details and address
  • Current employment details
  • Employer’s contact details
  • Income
  • Monthly expenses
Customizing your card during the application process

During the application process, you’ll be asked about different credit card features you can customize or request, such as:

  • Balance transfer. If you want to take advantage of a balance transfer with your new card, you’ll likely need to request it when you apply for your new card. You’ll need to list the issuers of the current credit cards and the balances you’d like to transfer. Enter their respective card numbers and how much you want to balance transfer from each card.
  • Additional cardholders. If you want to share your credit card with a partner or family member, you’re usually given the option to include this request on your application. To add a secondary cardholder, you will need to share their details, including their full name, date of birth and any other requested information.

What if I get denied?

If you get denied after a credit card application, it doesn’t mean you’re not creditworthy. Consider why you might have been denied and factor that into your next credit card choice. In some cases, you can call the issuer directly to get more information about why you were denied.

Once you’ve picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, take a look at your other credit card options and consider a few tips to improve your chances. But remember that too many card applications too quickly can put a dent in your credit score.

Other ways to get a credit card

Applying online has many benefits — it’s fast, convenient and you can do it from the comfort of your home. But if you feel like applying online is a complicated process, you have other options:

  • Apply in person. Visit a bank or a credit union branch, or a store if you’re applying for a store card, and talk to the credit card representative. They will guide you through the process. This is also a fast way to apply if you have the necessary documents with you. The only drawback is that you have limited options to choose from.
  • Apply by phone. Another option is to call the bank or the credit union and apply by phone. The process is similar to applying in person, except you can do it from anywhere. Butt make sure to have the necessary information required to apply, such as your Social Security number, income, expenses and employer information.
  • Apply by mail. Another option is to gather all the information and mail it to your bank or credit union. This is the least preferable method because it takes longer for the mail to physically arrive to the bank. And then there’s the possibility of losing the documents in transit.

Compare rewards credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Up to $350: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $200 back, plus $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in the first 6 months
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn up to $350. In your first 6 months, you can earn a $150 statement credit when you spend $3,000, and earn 20% back on Amazon purchases made with your card, up to $200 total. Having 6 months to earn a welcome offer is a rare benefit as most cards give you only 3. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Up to $250: 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months for up to $150 back, plus $100 statement credit after spending $2,000 within the first 6 months
3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
$0
Earn up to $250. You'll get 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first six months for up to $150 back, and $100 after you spend $2,000 in the first six months. This is a higher-than-average welcome offer for a card with no annual fee. Terms apply, see rates & fees
TD Double Up℠ Credit Card
$75 cash back in the form of a statement credit when you spend $500 within the first 90 days after account opening
Up to 2% cash back. 1% cash back on purchases plus 1% when you redeem into an eligible TD Bank Deposit Account
$0
Earn up to 2% cash back. 1% cash back on purchases plus 1% when you redeem into an eligible TD Bank Deposit Account. Available in: CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VA, VT
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Bottom line

If you’re ready to get a new credit card, start by comparing a range of options. Once you find one you want to apply for, go directly to the application, follow these steps and wait for the response. If you have more questions about the application process or what to consider before getting a new credit card, get in touch with us using the comment section below.

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