What do I need to apply for a credit card? 4 requirements | finder.com
laptop-2589420_1280

What you need to apply for a credit card

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

Find out exactly what information is required for your credit card application here.

Getting a new credit card is always subject to application approval from the bank or card issuer. The exact requirements you’ll need to meet vary between credit card providers, but there are a few common eligibility requirements you’ll have to meet and information that you will have to provide that will be consistent from bank to bank.

This guide outlines the basic requirements and information you need to ensure your credit card application process goes as smoothly as possible.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Filter values Annual Fee APR for Purchases (Purchase Rate) Intro APR for Balance Transfer
$0
17.24% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
$0
15.24% to 26.24% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
17.24% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
18.24% to 25.24% variable

N/A

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
$95
15.24% to 26.24% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
15.24% to 26.24% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$450
19.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
$550
None (Charge Card)

N/A

Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & Fees
$0
14.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 14.24% variable)
A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable
0% for the first 12 billing cycles (then 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable)
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

60,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$195
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 75,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you make $3,000 in purchases on your new card within your first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$450
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 75,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$95
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$0
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$0
16.24% to 25.74% variable
0% for the first 12 billing cycles (then 16.24% to 25.74% variable)
When you spend $500 on your card within the first 90 days, you’ll receive a $150 cash back bonus.
$0
12.99% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 12.99% to 17.99% variable)
Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 in the first 90 days from account opening.
$0
11.99% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases made with your card.
$0
11.99% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
Earn 5x points on gas at the pump and 3x points on groceries. Earn 1x points on all other purchases.
$0
15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
$0
13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable
0% for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable)
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
$0
16.24% to 22.24% variable
1.99% for the first 6 monthly billing cycles (then 16.24% to 22.24% variable)
1% cash back to the nonprofits, K-12 schools, colleges and religious organizations of your choice.
$495
17.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 17.24% variable)
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
$195
17.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 17.24% variable)
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
$995
17.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 17.24% variable)
Earn 2% point value when redeemed for airfare or cash back through the Luxury rewards program.
$0
15.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Build your credit with no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score over 620.
See terms
See terms

N/A

The First Access Card is a true Visa® credit card that does not require perfect credit for approval.
$0
9.24% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 9.24% to 17.99% variable)
Low APR on all purchases including cash advances.
$0
11.99% to 17.99% variable
4.99% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
Earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.
$0 to $99
20.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases.
$0 to $99
20.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV.
$0 to $99
20.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases and double cash back rewards at the NASCAR.com Superstore.
$0 to $99
23.9% fixed

N/A

The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card is specifically designed for those with less than perfect credit.
$48
9.99% fixed

N/A

This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
$35
19.64% variable

N/A

A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
$39
14.74% variable

N/A

No minimum credit score and no credit history required.
$49
10.74% variable

N/A

Build or rebuild your credit with this secured card.

Compare up to 4 providers

What are the eligibility requirements?

The basic credit card eligibility criteria vary based on the type of credit card and the provider, but generally include the following:

  • Age. You must be 21 years old to apply for a credit card in the United States. You can apply if you are at least 18 if you have a parent’s permission or a verifiable source of income.
  • Residency status. Most credit card providers require you to be a permanent resident or citizen of the U.S. But there are a limited number of cards available for temporary residents with valid visas.
  • Income. Before the CARD Act of 2009, credit card companies would give cards to anyone, even those with no income. But more standards are in place, and income can sometimes be a factor in the credit card you apply for.
  • Credit history. You must have good credit history to apply for most credit cards. If you’re struggling with no or low credit, you can rebuild your credit score with a secured credit card.

What information will I need to provide on my application?

The order of this information could vary depending on the credit card you’re applying for, but you will need to include details in the following categories.

Personal information

Most credit card applications begin by requesting details about your personal information. Ensure that all of the following information you provide is correct:

  • Personal information. This includes your full name and date of birth.
  • Citizenship. Are you a citizen of the U.S.?
  • Social Security number. Most banks require a Social Security number, but there are ways around it. You might be able to supply your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), if you have one, instead. Anyone can obtain an ITIN regardless of immigration status. You can apply for one through the IRS.
  • Residential address. These details relate to your current home address and the length of time you have been there. In certain cases, you could also be asked to provide information on previous residential addresses.
  • Contact details. Most lenders now require a valid email address as well as a phone number.

Note that if you are applying for a joint credit card account, all of the same information will be required for the additional applicant.

Employment and income information

The financial institution that you are applying with may want to verify that you are receiving a steady income. To do this they will ask for:

  • Your occupation. For example, you’ll need to provide your title and the field you work in, and whether you work full or part time.
  • Employer information. You’ll need to specify the amount of time you’ve been with your current employer and provide your employer’s name and contact information. In some cases, you may also be asked to list previous employment details as well.
  • Income. Include details of your annual income before taxes, as well as any secondary income you may receive, such as benefits or child support.
  • Self-employed. If you are self-employed when applying for a credit card, you may need to provide your previous year’s income tax returns to verify your income.

Financial information

The financial information portion of a credit card application helps to determine if you qualify for the card. It also helps in determining your credit limit. Information you’ll need to provide here includes:

  • Account details. This includes details for savings and checking accounts, along with the current balances.
  • Assets. Assets could include savings, investments and property.
  • Monthly housing payments. You will be asked to provide the amount of your monthly mortgage or rent payment.
  • Credit and other bets. You’ll need to provide details of any existing credit accounts or debts, such as credit cards, personal loans or car payments.

Card preferences

At this point in your application, you will be asked for your card preferences and often given the option for a balance transfer. Information in this section will include:

  • Additional cardholders and their details. If you have an eligible partner or dependent who you’d like to add as an additional cardholder, make sure to have their personal details on hand for this part of the application. You will need to provide their full name, age and contact information.
  • Balance transfer. If you are applying for a balance transfer from an existing card to the new card, you will need to include details of your current credit card account, the financial institution and the amount of debt that you wish to transfer. Also note that you may not be able to transfer the balance from a card that is issued by the same provider. For example, you can’t transfer a balance from one Citibank card to another Citibank card.

After you have completed these steps, you will be asked to review your details before hitting the “submit” button. Thoroughly check your form for accuracy, and remember that the application cannot be recalled once it’s submitted. It will also trigger an inquiry on your credit file, so make sure it’s worthwhile.

What else do I need to remember when applying?

Depending on the type of credit card you’re applying for, you may be required to provide proof of your income and other supporting financial documentation for approval.

  • Supporting documentation. After you have submitted the initial application (or during the application), you may be required to provide documentation that supports the information provided. This typically includes identifying documents with a photo, several recent paystubs and/or tax documents.
  • Document submission. Check out how the process works for verifying your documents. In some cases, you may be able upload copies online via a secure service, while in others you might have to bring them into a branch.
  • “Instant” approval. Most credit card applications you submit online will provide you with a response within 60 seconds. Remember that if you are approved at this stage, you may still have to provide the supporting documents in order to receive and activate your card.

If you do the research first and gather together all of the information required, filling out a credit card application online will only take a few minutes. And thanks to the convenience of 60-second approval times, you could know within 15 minutes of clicking “Apply now” whether you will be getting a brand new credit card.

Frequently asked questions

Back to top

Adrienne Fuller

Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team at finder.com. With a decade of experience creating educational guides, she has one goal: deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site