8 Steps To Getting Approved for a Credit Card, According to Banking Experts

Johan Swanepoel / Shutterstock.com
Johan Swanepoel / Shutterstock.com

Banks are there to work for you and your money, providing an array of services and solutions to make sure your finances not only stay in order, but grow.

That includes offering credit cards to customers who are qualified. Even if you have an outstanding credit score, the approval process still has some hurdles to jump through before the plastic is in your hand. And it all starts when you walk into the local branch of your bank and speak with a teller.

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Sana Kheir, an investor and co-founder of Mayfair Properties whose journey to wealth began with a strong foundation in the banking sector, said, “Securing a credit card can be a crucial step towards financial independence and flexibility. … I’ve learned that the journey to credit card approval involves strategic planning and understanding what lenders look for.”

Here are some top recommendations to help you get approved for a credit card. Also see other things you should know about credit cards.

Monitor Your Credit Score

One of the utmost steps of importance is taking the time to understand your credit score.

“Check your credit score,” advised Jason Gaughan, credit cards executive at Bank of America. “Your credit score plays a significant role in the credit card approval process. Before you fill out any applications, know what your current credit score is and apply for credit cards that fall within your range.”

Kheir added, “Obtain a copy of your credit report from the major credit bureaus and ensure there are no errors. A score above 700 generally improves your chances of approval. If your score is low, you must improve by paying your debt and making timely payments.”

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Choose the Right Card for Your Credit Profile

Not all credit cards are the same. Some come with additional fees, others offer rewards, and more come with additional pluses and minuses. Matching your credit profile to a credit card is critical for approval, in a bank’s eyes.

“For those with limited credit history, a secured credit card or one designed for new credit users can be ideal,” Kheir explained. “If you have an established credit history, consider those cards that offer rewards or benefits tailored to your spending habits.”

Maintain a Low Credit Utilization Ratio

You need credit to get a credit card, but there is good credit and bad credit, namely a percentage of your offered line that you should stay below.

“Keep your credit utilization ratio below 30% of your total credit limit,” Kheir recommended, describing how maintaining this position “demonstrates to lenders that you use credit responsibly.”

“Regularly paying down your balances and not maxing out your cards can significantly enhance your credit score and approval chances.”

Be Strategic With Applications

According to Kheir, when it comes to applying for a credit card, each application comes with a hard inquiry. This look into your history is recorded on your credit report each time you apply for a credit card. Checking it all the time can actually lower your score.

To avoid this, Kheir suggested thoroughly doing your homework ahead of time, then applying for each credit card one at a time, with the aim to be looking to obtain a card that best suits your needs.

“Avoid multiple applications within a short period, as this can signal financial instability to lenders,” cautioned Kheir.

Ensure Complete and Accurate Applications

Did you cross all those T’s and dot all those I’s? It never hurts to go back and make sure everything you are submitting in your application is as correct and polished as possible.

“Double-check all the information on your application before submitting it,” Kheir said. “Incomplete or inaccurate information can lead to further delays or denials. Ensure your personal details, employment information, and financial data are correct and up to date.”

Show Proof of Stable Income

Bank lenders are on the lookout for credit card applicants who can show that they have stable incomes that can be used to pay the card balance each month.

Kheir’s advice is to make sure that you provide comprehensive documentation such as pay stubs, tax returns or bank statements, all of which you should have on hand when you apply.

“Demonstrating a consistent income reassures lenders of your ability to meet monthly payments, enhancing your chances of approval,” Kheir said.

Address Negative Items on Your Credit Report

No one enjoys going through the dirty details of their credit history, especially if there are some dips into lower scores, outstanding balances and other negative marks. But, at the same time, it is good to get ahead of the situation yourself rather than let the bank discover these blemishes.

“If your credit report shows negative marks, address them before applying for a new card,” Kheir suggested. “Dispute inaccuracies and work on settling any outstanding debts. Cleaning up your credit report can significantly improve your creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders.”

By following the above steps, Kheir noted that someone applying at a bank “can improve the chances of getting approval for your credit card that suits your financial needs.”

“Responsible credit management is not just about approval; it’s about building a strong financial foundation for the future.”

Patience

It might take time to get your final approval, so Gaughan advised customers to be patient while they wait for the final answer; the journey is more than just submitting your application.

“While it’s smart to aim for a credit score in the good to excellent range – as this not only boosts your chances of approval, but it may qualify you for better terms or rewards – it’s also important to understand that it can take time to build your credit,” Gaughan stated. “By giving yourself a little breathing room and working on your financial health, you’ll be in a much stronger position to snag the credit card you have had your eye on.

“If you’re denied, take some time to improve your credit score or financial situation before applying again. Once you feel ready to apply for your next credit card, make sure you’ve allowed some time to pass between applications,” Gaughan continued. “Applying for credit cards too frequently can hurt your credit score — and in turn your chances of approval.”

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