What documents do you need to apply for a credit card?

Find out what credit card providers require to verify your information.

Documents needed to verify your identity and address

When you apply for a credit card online most providers now electronically verify your ID and address through a credit reference agency (CRA) like Experian or Equifax. In this case, you may need to answer some questions that only you would know the answer to, but you won’t have the hassle of having to dig out any ID. This identity search will not affect your credit rating.

Sometimes the CRA will not have enough information about you on file (or in the databases that it has access to) to be able to verify your ID with a satisfactory level of certainty.

When this happens you may be asked to provide a photo of yourself, plus a photo of the identification page of your passport. Again, the provider will use technology provided by a CRA to verify your ID using the photos you’ve provided. If the provider doesn’t offer this facility then you may be asked to take ID to a branch or to post a certified copy (a copy that is certified as authentic by a member of the bank’s staff or by a solicitor, accountant, GP etc.).

You should be wary of sending off originals of particularly important forms of ID, such as your passport or driver’s licence.

When you apply for a credit card in a branch, the old fashioned rules apply – you’ll normally need to bring two forms of identification – one to prove your ID and one to prove your address (you can’t use the same document to prove both). Normally it’ll be your passport or driver’s licence, plus a utility bill or bank statement.

To prove your ID

Each provider will list the specific documents it will accept, but you’ll normally be able to use one of the following:

  • Driver’s licence
  • Passport
  • Blue disabled driver’s pass
  • UK armed forces ID card
  • Biometric residence permit

To prove your address

Each provider will list the specific documents it will accept, but you’ll normally be able to use one of the following:

  • Driver’s licence
  • Benefits entitlement letter
  • HMRC tax notification
  • Local authority tax bill for the current year
  • A recent utility bill
  • A recent bank, building society or UK credit union statement
  • A recent tenancy agreement issued by a solicitor, housing association or local council

How banks or providers can verify your income

Again, those all-seeing credit reference agencies can now verify your income, through something called your current account turnover. However, in rare cases you may still be asked to supply:

  • Pay slips
  • Bank statements
  • If you’re self-employed, tax returns from the previous two years or other documents proving income

Many providers will ask for your employer’s name and contact details in the full application. Your employer won’t necessarily be contacted by the lender though. Your pay slips coupled with your current account turnover are usually enough to satisfy a lender’s employment verification.

If needed, the provider can get in touch with your employer to verify details.

Credit card application tips

What you’ll need for an online credit card application

  • Your current UK address. If you have moved in the past three years, the provider will also require your previous address.
  • Your phone number and your email address.
  • Your annual income (before tax).
  • The account number and sort code of your main bank account.
  • Optional. Details of any existing store or credit card if you want to make a balance transfer as part of your application

What other financial information will be required?

A provider may occasionally require further information regarding your income and outgoings, such as:

  • Any documents that can prove additional sources of income
  • An estimate of your current expenses

In most cases you’ll get an instant decision, at which point you can look carefully at what deal the card issuer has offered you (it’ll be tailored to your individual circumstances).

If you’re applying to a bank or provider that you don’t currently have an account with, you may need to jump through a few more hoops than if you were an existing customer. This is primarily due to anti-money laundering requirements.

Four quick tips to speed up the application process

  • Use the soft search facility. Most providers offer you the chance to give a few details (your name, age and address details for the last three years) in order to find out if you would be likely to be offered a credit card and to see what rate you might get (not everybody gets the advertised “representative APR”). It’s often called an “eligibility checker”. This is a great idea, and it won’t affect your credit rating.
  • Know what’s needed before you start. To get everything organised, check the full list of required documents before you start your online application. When you click through to the bank or provider’s site it will usually be listed before you begin.
  • File your documents. It probably sounds obvious, but if you file your utility bills, pay slips, bank statements etc. somewhere sensible, then you’ll know where to find them. It’s sometimes a good idea to have an electronic copy of your important documents for other purposes as well. It provides easy access whenever you need to complete an online application and could serve as a backup in case you lose the original.
  • Start now, finish later. Take advantage of the “save and complete later” function offered on most online application forms if you don’t have everything on hand. You will be given login details to come back later.

By knowing exactly what documents you’ll need, completing your credit card application can be fast and stress-free. Now you know what to expect, you can confidently compare a range of personal credit cards and apply today.

Frequently asked questions

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Written by

Emily Herring

Emily Herring is a Publisher at Finder specialising in credit-based products including credit cards and business and personal loans. Emily has recently joined the Investments team. She has a Masters in Creative Writing & Publishing and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication & Media. See full profile

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