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How to apply for a credit card

If you’re wanting to make a large purchase and spread the cost, a credit card may be useful. It can also help to know you have extra funds available if you need them.

If you’re looking to apply for a credit card, use our guide below to help.

1. Find the right credit card

Before applying for a credit card, take some time to consider which one may be right for your needs. Different credit cards can be useful for different things.

For example, a balance transfer credit card with an interest-free period may be useful if you’re looking to pay down existing credit card debt. Or, a 0% interest on purchases credit card may come in handy if you’re wanting to make a bigger purchase and spread the cost over a longer period without paying interest. 

When comparing credit cards, make sure to take into account the APR as well as any other fees and charges. Keep in mind, the APR advertised may not be the rate you’re offered. This can be due to a number of reasons, such as your credit score.  

If you’re shopping around to find the right credit card, make sure to only submit an application when you’ve found the right one. Submitting lots of applications for finance in a short amount of time may affect your credit score. Comparison sites can be useful as they perform soft credit checks and may show what credit cards you’re likely to be accepted for without negatively impacting your credit score. 

Explore more: Hard vs soft credit checks: what's the difference?

2. Check your credit score

When lenders are considering your application, they’ll check your credit score. This helps them determine how reliable you are at repaying anything you borrow. 

If you’re applying for a credit card, it can be useful to check your credit report first. You’ll be able to look for any mistakes and make sure all the information the credit reference agencies have is accurate. 

If your credit score isn’t quite where you want it to be, there may be steps you can take to improve it

3. Check your eligibility

Some credit cards may have eligibility requirements you need to meet in order to be able to apply. For example, you may need to earn over a certain amount per year, or be over a certain age. 

4. Fill in the application

You’ll need to fill in an application to apply for a credit card. You may be able to do this online, over the phone or in branch.

Make sure to be as honest as possible with your application and review it before submitting to make sure there are no mistakes. A declined credit card application may affect your credit score, so it’s important to check it thoroughly.

Keep in mind, you should always check the terms and conditions of the credit card you’re applying for before you start applying. 

5. Review your offer

If your application for a credit card is successful, make sure to review the offer from the lender. Check the:

  • APR
  • fees
  • payment due dates
  • percentage you’ll need to repay to make the minimum monthly repayment (although you should always try to repay in full to avoid being charged interest) 

If your application is declined, it can be useful to check your credit report to see if there are any reasons why this may have happened. 

What next?

Make sure you understand how a credit card works before applying.

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