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How to get your credit card application accepted

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
May 17, 2017

Ever had one of those letters in the post or in an email inviting you to apply for a credit card?

They almost always imply that you’re pretty much home and dry and that acceptance is just a formality.

If you look more closely, though, you’ll find that’s far from the case.

And if you actually apply you’ll find the card company wants to know all about you, as though for the first time.

The truth is acceptance is never a formality and you can never know whether you’ll be accepted before you’ve handed over all your details and the card company has run your details through their computers.

But there is a huge amount you can do to ensure you WILL be accepted.

The number one thing to appreciate, though, is that doing stuff so the card company will say “yes”, starts log before you fill out that application form.

Every car provider has a slightly different view on who they want to give their cards to. But you can be pretty sure if you’ve been leaving unpaid debts all over the place then you have some work to do in order to get past a credit check.

Here are the things that may well get you rejected and how you can avoid them.

Read more: Credit card repayments - what you need to know


Being refused can be bad for your record

If you do apply and you’re rejected, that may be a negative mark on your credit record.

So, it’s best to make sure you’re not turned down.

That means only applying for cards that are likely to accept you

The first thing to check are the basic criteria for acceptance, things like minimum age, perhaps a minimum income is also specified, being a UK resident, and you’ll almost certainly need to be employed and be on the electoral roll.

If any of these mean you are unlikely to be accepted, move on to another provider.


What about debts?

The provider will look at your credit report as one of the first checks.

If you have a pile of outstanding bills or bad debts in your wake, you won’t get far.

You’re going to have to clear these and establish over months that you can manage money without getting into debt.

If your debts are only small relative to your income, you may be OK.

Need more advice? Read, credit card repayments - what you need to know


Too much credit already

Having big credit limits on other cards, or perhaps a big overdraft facility might make a card provider wonder why you want more.

Anything seemingly odd like this may put them off.

It raises the possibility you could run up big debts very quickly and perhaps not be able to pay them off – or you might disappear!

If you have lines of credit you don’t use, get rid of them.


Applying for online loans

If you make applications for loans, especially those online from non-mainstream providers, then it may look like you’re a bit desperate.

Credit card providers won’t like that.

So, avoid payday loan providers or any applications for smallish personal loans.


No credit history

Just as having too much debt in the past can negatively affect your credit record, not having one at all can have a similar effect.

If you’re young and haven’t had a bank account long and never had a loan or borrowed money in any capacity, your credit history will look thin.

It’s best to establish how responsible with money you are before applying for a card.

And you don’t have to have had a loan previously. Making sure you never miss a payment on your phone contract, for example, can be a big bonus.

And making sure there is always enough money in your account to cover any standing orders or direct debits creates an excellent impression.

Read more: Choosing your first credit card - a beginner's guide


Making mistakes

Believe it or not, a simple error on you credit file, such as a spelling mistake in your address that can’t be linked to other data, or your name has been recorded slightly wrongly, can mean a big fat, “no”.

The only trouble is, you’re not going to know the reason.

Good idea then to check your credit history details, which you can do for free online these days, and ensure you don’t make any mistakes on your credit card application form.

Your credit history is held by companies such as EquifaxExperian and Callcredit and you’re entitled to see what information they hold on you.


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Many people have partners’ names on bank accounts and other financial instruments.

If that other party gets into money problems, if can often be linked to you and may be seen negatively by a lender.

This might seem unfair, but the lender is effectively interested in risk and if you hang out with people that run up debts, then, statistically speaking, you’re probably more likely to do so yourself.

So, decouple your finances if your partner has money trouble and you don’t want it to affect your rating.


Identity theft

More of us than ever are falling victim to identity theft.

Unfortunately, if some thief steals your bank details and goes on a spending spree it will show up on your credit rating.

So, even if you spot this has happened and resolve the problem with your bank, do make sure you raise it with credit rating agencies to ensure your score is not negatively affected.