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All of us know how important it is to have the highest credit score possible when applying for new credit cards. You also don’t want to apply for too many at once to avoid being rejected for excessive activity. Instead, you can try to get credit card pre-approval. But what is credit card pre-approval and how do you get it?

what is credit card pre-approval
What is credit card pre-approval? Is it hard to get?

Seeing if you qualify for a card before you apply lets you know exactly what different type credit cards you can get. It also spares you a hard inquiry that stays on your credit report for two years. And let’s not forget that temporary credit score dip that comes with every hard inquiry as well.

What is Credit Card Pre-Approval?

Pre-approval means the issuing bank performs a soft inquiry on your personal credit report from at least one of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). This type of credit pull doesn’t impact your personal credit score. Chances are, banks and lenders request soft credit pulls on a regular basis to send you personalized offers for credit cards and loans.

Once you apply for a credit card, the bank will perform a hard inquiry to make an official decision. This step impacts your credit score and leaves a record of the inquiry on your report for the next 24 months.

To be clear, pre-approval never means you are guaranteed to qualify for every application. But, your approval odds for these cards are very high.

How to Request Credit Card Pre-Approval

Here are several ways you can get credit card pre-approval. It only takes a few minutes. Plus, it helps you quickly research and learn about the best credit cards for travel miles.

Use CardMatch

You can contact each bank separately to see which of their cards you qualify for. However, this strategy is time-consuming and you might overlook some options.

A quicker option is using CardMatch. It’s free to use and lets you quickly compare curated offers from multiple banks. You enter your home address and last 4 Social Security Number digits. In a few seconds, you can browse offers from banks including American Express, Chase and Bank of America.

If you find a card you like, CardMatch directs you to the bank website to apply.

Right now, CardMatch is offering a targeted, highest-ever signup bonus for the Platinum Card from American Express. You can earn 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points worth $1,000 in award travel. The best part is that you only spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, the same minimum spend for the standard bonus on the American Express website.

Applying for the Amex Platinum using CardMatch means your signup bonus is worth $400 more than the average applicant. Learn more link: CardMatch™

Check Your Mailbox

Do credit card companies mail you pre-qualified offers on a regular basis? If so, there’s a good chance you are pre-approved for these credit cards. In many cases, the offer is the same as what you find online.

Sometimes, you receive a targeted offer that can be higher than the best limited-time credit card offers.

These offers also give you an idea of similar cards you might qualify for. For example, you might get a mailed offer for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. While this is an excellent travel rewards credit card, you may like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Citi Premier+ more for its flexible travel redemption options.

Tip: Compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Capital One Venture Rewards to see which of these two top travel cards best works for you.

Check the Bank Website

Most national banks offer a free tool to see which cards you pre-qualify for. In some cases, you may need to be a current customer to view your personal offers.

American Express

You can enter your home address, last 4 Social Security numbers, and annual salary to get personal American Express offers. It’s possible you can get offers larger than the offer on the regular credit card webpage.

Some of the best Amex credit card offers include the following (note that these are targeted offers and may not be available to everyone. Use the CardMatch™ tool to see if you also qualify for the offers below):

Platinum Card from American Express

Targeted applicants can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards ($1,000 value) after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of account opening (usually 60,000 bonus points). Learn more about The Platinum Card® from American Express: Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Amex EveryDay Card

25,000 Membership Rewards points by spending $2,000 in the first 3 months (Usually 15,000 bonus points). Learn more: Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Cash Magnet Card

$200 bonus cash after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months (usually $175 cashback). Learn more: Cash Magnet® Card

Bank of America

Bank of America lets you see personal offers for travel, cash, and balance transfer credit cards. Like the other banks, see if the personal offer is higher than the standard offer.

Capital One

Capital One requires you to enter your full Social Security number plus your residential information. Their questionnaire also asks if you’re most interested in travel rewards, cash rewards, or a low APR. Like the other banks, this is a soft credit pull.

This is an effortless way to see if you qualify for cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Quicksilver.

Tip: See our recommendations for the best Capital One credit cards.

Chase

The Chase prequalified tool will show you the best available offers and options for your credit history. For example, you might use this tool to see if you qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Chase Sapphire Preferred. Both of these cards require an above-average credit score and positive experience with handling credit cards.

In less than 30 seconds, you get an idea for if you finally qualify for one of the best Chase credit cards of your choice.

As Chase has the most restrictive application guidelines, it’s still a good idea to know how many new credit card accounts you have opened in the last 24 months. Being the primary or authorized user on at least 5 credit cards in the most recent 24 months means Chase will most likely decline your application.

This restriction applies to all Chase credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points and most branded airline and hotel cards.

Citi

Quickly see if Citi preapproves you for leading credit cards like the Citi Premier+ or Citi DoubleCash.

Discover

The award for the most detailed credit card pre-approval form goes to Discover. You will need to enter the usual personal information plus your annual income, monthly housing costs, highest education level, and if you currently have a bank and investment account. Most banks save this information for the official application.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo doesn’t provide a prequalification tool to non-members. If you already have a Wells Fargo account, you can call their support team or visit your local branch to see if you can get pre-approval for any of their cards.

Summary

It’s quick and free to get credit card pre-approval for most banks. Being an existing customer may give you the best chance of seeing the best personalized offers. But the easiest pre-approval tool can still be using a comparison site like CardMatch that partners with multiple banks. By doing this, you can compare different offers with one search.

Learn more: CardMatch™

Josh Patoka

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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