Receiving credit card pre-approval offers in the mail can be exciting, especially if the offer is for a credit card with low interest rates or an excellent rewards program. So, don’t get too thrilled.
If you’ve ever reacted to a pre-approval credit card offer, you already know the truth about pre-approved credit card offers: you’re not actually pre-approved. That’s correct. You can still be declined for a credit card for which you have been “pre-approved.”
What Does the Term “Pre-Approved” Mean?
Credit card companies use a screening process to determine which customers are a good fit for a specific credit card. During the screening process, the card issuer requests a list of consumers who meet particular criteria, such as having a certain credit score or having a certain number of accounts, from the credit bureau.
If you meet the requirements, your name is added to the list, and the credit card company sends you a pre-approval offer. Consider it more of an invitation to apply for the credit card than a solid offer for the credit card.
Because the credit card issuer did not perform a hard pull on your credit record, pre-approval has no effect on your credit score. If you opt to apply for the credit card, the credit card company will do a credit check, resulting in a hard inquiry. Depending on the other information in your credit report, the query from your application could harm your credit score.
Where Can I Get Pre-Approved Credit Cards?
If you haven’t received a pre-approved credit card offer in the mail, don’t assume you don’t qualify.
Several credit card companies make it simple to find out if you’ve been pre-approved for a credit card. You’ll normally submit only your basic information – your name and the last four digits of your social security number – to determine if you qualify for any credit cards.
These pre-approval checks normally only perform a soft draw on your credit report, which means they have no effect on your credit score unless you apply for a credit card.
- American Express
- Bank of America
- Capital One
- Merrick Bank
- U.S. Bank
Checking to discover if you’re pre-approved for a credit card ahead of time will save you the headache of applying for credit cards that are “out of your league,” as it were. This is significant since additional credit inquiries might lower your credit score and make future applications more difficult to approve.
Why Credit Card Pre-Approval Offers Aren’t Always What They Appear To Be
Even if you receive a pre-approved credit card offer, you must still apply, just as if you found the credit card on your own. Once you apply, the credit card company will review your credit history and the information on your application to determine whether you are eligible for the credit card.
In the best-case scenario, you’re authorized for the credit card on the same terms as the offer letter. A little less satisfying: you may get approved, but on less favorable terms than the offer. You might be accepted for a higher interest rate or a shorter promotional period, for example.
A worse-case scenario is that you will be denied the credit card entirely.
Free Credit Scores Following a Negative Choice
If you are denied for a pre-approved credit card (or any credit card), or if you are authorized but with less favorable terms than you were promised because your credit score did not match the criteria, the card issuer will provide you a complimentary copy of the credit score that was used in the decision.
If you are refused because of information in your credit report, you may be entitled to a free credit report. This free credit report will be available to you for 60 days.
You can use this opportunity to figure out what’s preventing you from being approved and work to improve your credit score in the future if you decide to apply for a credit card.
The pre-approved credit card offer you receive might not be the greatest deal available.
Before you respond, check the most recent credit card offers online. You might be able to locate anything better than the offer you received from the maill. You might be able to obtain a better credit card with another credit card company.
Compare credit cards based on their rewards, perks, interest rate, and fees.
Stop Accepting Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers
You can limit the offers you receive by mail if you no longer wish to receive pre-approved credit card offers, possibly because you receive too many of them. Simply go to optoutprescreen.com and unsubscribe. If you already opted out, you can opt back in at the same page.
Many pre-approved offers based on pre-screenings through the main credit bureaus will be stopped if you opt out of the line. However, you may still receive offers from firms with which you already do business or from organizations that obtained your information from sources other than the credit bureaus.
When you’re ready to apply for a new credit card, you can still use the major credit card issuers’ online pre-approval tools to shop around for credit cards. This way, while you’re looking for credit cards on your own, you’re in control.