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What do lenders look for when choosing to approve your credit card application?

A lender considers more factors than just your credit score.

Updated

Fact checked

Lenders want to know if you’re able to repay your debt. That’s why they need your personal and financial information, including annual income, employment status, Social Security number and your credit score. Based on the information they receive, the lender will decide whether to approve your credit card application and what your interest rate will be.

Two main questions lenders ask

  1. Are you likely to repay the credit?
    You may have a great income and lots of money to repay the loan, but if your credit history suggests you renege on your debts or pay them late, then very few lenders will look favorably upon you unless they’re able to secure their loan against a security deposit.
  2. Are you able to repay the credit?
    Lenders need to see that you have a regular income so your repayments can be easily covered. If you don’t have a regular income, some lenders may deny your application, even if you have a good credit score.

Does credit repayment need to be guaranteed?

Not unless you’re applying for a business credit card. Personal credit cards usually don’t require a guarantee if you have a good credit score or higher. If your credit score is lower than that, a bank may require a secured deposit, which will act as your credit line.

How will a lender make sure I repay the debt?

Lenders believe that you will repay your debt. If you make a late payment, you’ll pay fees and interest. If you can’t repay your debt, your account will go to a collection agency. Lenders will always make sure they get what you owe.

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See Rates & Fees

Compare credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
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
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $300. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
20% at Amazon.com up to $200 back in the first 6 months, 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
This everyday cashback card is ideal for Black Friday and holiday shopping with 20% back at Amazon.com up to $200 back in the first 6 months. Rates & fees
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$0
An impressive 18 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
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Bottom line

Lenders look at many factors when you apply for a credit card, but all they want to know is whether or not can you repay a debt. To get approved for most credit cards, you need a good credit history and a steady annual income.

If you’re looking for the right card to fit your financial needs, compare your credit card options.

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