Some Advice About Applying for a Credit Card

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Updated: November 16th, 2011
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

If you are considering opening up a new credit cards account, there are a few things to think about beforehand. While you may notice many appealing offers circulating, some touting generous-sounding sign on bonuses, rewards programs or no interest on new purchases for a specified period of time, it’s best to analyze your particular spending habits and credit history before selecting which one to keep in your wallet.

How’s your score?

In order to qualify for a card with a the lowest available APR, the least amount of fees and the best rewards program you must have a good to excellent credit score and a credit history indicative of financial responsibility. If your credit score is poor or nonexistent, it is still possible to obtain a card but your options will be more limited. Have a sense of your credit card score before applying for a new card so that you will be able to realistically pick which one to choose.

Have you been prompt with payments?

Go over the credit card statements for any cards you currently carry. Have you made your payments on time every billing cycle? Have you ever been late paying your bill or missed out on making a payment altogether? If the answer is yes to either or both of those questions, realize that any perks, bonuses or rewards on the card you hope to acquire may be rendered null and void if you exhibit sloppy payment behavior. You may also be subject to penalty fees, so make sure you read the fine print to know what you are getting into and assess your payment habits honestly.

Do you use your credit cards often?

If your card is always warm to the touch because you use it so often, consider setting it aside and letting it cool down for a bit before applying to open up a new account. Lenders may perceive you as “over using” your credit cards, which will make it less likely that you will qualify for the new card that has all the features you want the most.

The flip side to that is if you have not been using credit recently – you have either been opting to pay for purchases in cash or with a debit card – that also make it more difficult for you to open up a new account. It’s important to use (not overuse!) your cards on a regular basis in order to establish and maintain a positive credit history. The saying “it takes credit to build credit” is absolutely true.

Review Your Report

Lastly, it is an excellent idea to take a peek at your credit report to better assess where your score stands. Look out for any unfamiliar activity or errors, and if you find any contact the credit bureau and corresponding card issuer immediately to have the mistakes rectified. Also see to it that your responsible payment behavior has been duly noted as well. Because your report is that first thing a potential lender looks at when considering you as a candidate for a new card, you want to make sure that is is an accurate representation of your best financial self.

All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.

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