How to get your credit card application approved

Improve your chances of getting a new credit card with these handy tips.

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Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time applying for a credit card, the application process can be unpredictable and overwhelming. If you’re considering getting a new card, it’s useful to receive guidance on how to apply and the information you need to provide. If it’s been a long time since you submitted an application, or if your last request was declined, revisiting the foundations can help improve your chance of success.

Whatever your situation, this guide provides you with steps to help get your application approved. We also run through some common reasons a bank may decline your application, and what to do after, so you have a higher chance of success the next time you apply.

Steps to help get your credit card application approved

While there is no guarantee the bank will approve your credit card application, these steps aim to help you achieve a positive outcome:

  1. Compare cards. Before applying, always research, analyse and compare available cards on the market, as this enables you to find a card that’s compatible with your circumstances. Credit card comparisons can also reduce the risk of making too many credit card applications, which hurt your credit score.
  2. Check the eligibility criteria. While researching your options, it’s important to consider the eligibility requirements for each credit card. These criteria vary but typically include a minimum age of 18, residency requirements and minimum income or employment. Make sure you meet all the requirements for a card before applying since failing to do so will naturally result in rejection.
  3. Gather supporting documentation. Doing this before your application helps speed up the process, as you are then ready to submit all the necessary documents along with your application. Such documentation can include payslips, bank statements, tax receipts and proof of assets.
  4. Provide as much detail as possible in the application. When filling out your application, try not to leave any blank fields. Instead, provide as much relevant information as you can, including contact information and exact figures where applicable.
  5. Choose a responsible credit limit. In general, your chances of approval are higher if you request a modest credit limit. Asking for a high credit limit, that’s beyond your financial ability isn’t looked upon favourably by credit card issuers. Alternatively, you can opt to have the issuer assign a limit to you, which they do based on the details you provide. You can increase your credit limit later, after using the card for a time and establishing a responsible repayment history.
  6. Review your application. Double-check your application before submitting it and avoid making errors, as it delays the application and verification process.
  7. Upload or submit requested documents. You will find the document upload function particularly simple with online applications. In any case, most card providers ask that you send the relevant documents after your initial application. The sooner you provide these documents, the sooner they can approve your application.

If you apply for a credit card online, most issuers provide you with an “instant response”. This notification comes moments after you complete and submit the application form, so you should know then if you’ve been approved. In some cases, the issuer requires more information (such as supporting documentation) before the application process is complete and they grant full approval. By following these steps, you can ensure all aspects of your application are complete, which improves your chance of approval.

Why might my credit card application be rejected?

If you’re worried your application may be declined, here are some of the most common situations that lead to rejection and the possible ways to address them:

  • Lack of income. Some credit cards stipulate a minimum income requirement, with even low-income credit cards requiring that you earn at least $15,000 annually. If you’re currently unemployed, it might be wise to delay applying for a new card until you settle into a stable job, to avoid possible rejection. Otherwise, you can also consider loans for the unemployed.
  • A new job or job instability. If you’re transitioning between jobs or entering a new career, it can be hard to provide the payslips that credit card providers may require as supporting documentation for your application. In this case, you can call the provider to discuss your personal circumstances, or wait a few months until you have the necessary documentation to prove a stable income.
  • Default accounts. Having default listings on your credit file can be damaging to your credit card application. Unfortunately, there is no quick way around this. You may wish to start working on removing the black marks and defaults from your credit file or consider other credit options if necessary.
    • Too many credit enquiries. Every time you apply for a credit card (or any other form of credit), a credit enquiry is recorded on your credit file and remains there for five years. Too many of these enquiries in a short amount of time can have a negative impact on your credit rating. While there’s no way to remove credit enquiries from your file, they tend to hold less weight the longer they are there. For example, credit issuers are more likely to be forgiving about credit enquiries made a few years ago than one made a month ago.
    • Limited credit history. This is a problem if you’re starting work, or if you just moved countries. Fortunately, you can do something about this by actively building good credit. Begin by establishing small credit accounts, such as phone or utility accounts. Make sure you pay these in full and on time to prove yourself as a reliable borrower.
    • Residency status. Unfortunately, some credit cards require that card applicants be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents. There is a limited number of cards that cater to visa-holders. You should seek out the right credit card for your residential status before applying.
      Compare credit cards for temporary residents

    When it comes to applying for a new credit card, the most important work lies in research and comparison. Make sure you choose the most suitable card for your personal needs and that you meet the relevant eligibility requirements. Prepare all necessary documentation to submit alongside your detailed application, as this ensures approval as quickly as possible.

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