How to check your odds of getting approved for a credit card without hurting your credit score (2024)

Looking to open a new credit card but not sure if you'll get approved? There's a simple feature that many card issuers offer for free: pre-qualification. You can submit a prequalification form online to see whether you may qualify for a card.

In fact, you can submit multiple pre-qualification requests without any damage to your credit score, since it involves a soft inquiry of your credit. A soft inquiry (also called a "soft pull") isn't connected to a specific application for new credit (a mortgage or a credit card, for example) and doesn't require your permission, so it doesn't show up on your credit report.

Once you submit an actual application though, you give the card issuer permission to check your credit, which is called a hard inquiry (or "hard pull"). This can sometimes result in a slight ding to your credit score, which is why it's recommended you only apply for a credit card every six months. Applying for many cards at once is a red flag to issuers and can have a bigger impact on your credit score.

How to pre-qualify for a credit card

Using a pre-screened offer

You may receive targeted offers in the mail or via email saying you've been "pre-screened" or "pre-selected to apply" for a credit card. These offers typically provide an invitation code that you enter on the card issuer's site and a date when the offer expires.

These offers can help you kick-start the credit card search process, but you should still compare other cards to find the best fit for your needs. A pre-screened offer may seem tempting because it's personalized, highlights the main perks of the card and is time-sensitive. That doesn't necessarily make it the best credit card for your lifestyle, however.

As with any financial product, you should do your research and make sure the card is a good fit for you before applying.

Find the best credit card for you by reviewing offers in ourcredit card marketplaceor get personalized offers viaCardMatch™.

Using the card issuer's website

Many card issuers provide pre-qualification links where you can check if you may qualify for a credit card. When you click on the link, there's often a statement that says checking your qualification chances does not affect your credit score.

These online forms typically ask for your name, address, contact information and social security number (or at least the last four digits).

At the end of the form, there is also a disclaimer you need to acknowledge that expresses this is not an official application and if you apply, your credit will be pulled.

Here are some card issuers that provide pre-qualification forms:

Easiest credit cards to get approved for

The easiest type of credit card to get approved for is generally a secured credit card. You can qualify for a secured credit card with bad credit or no credit history.

Secured credit cards are an excellent option for building your credit history or improving your credit score. The way they work is, instead of receiving an unsecured credit limit you'll need to make a (refundable) deposit, and your spending limit is based on the deposit.

A typical minimum deposit for a secured credit card is $200 and it goes up from there. While credit card rewards aren't the focus of secured cards, a number of the best secured credit cards also offer cash back on purchases.

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card, for example, earns 2% back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1% back, and it only requires a $200 minimum deposit.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

On Discover's secure site

  • Rewards

    Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year

  • Annual fee


  • Intro APR

    N/A on purchases

  • Regular APR

    28.24% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee


  • Credit needed

    New / Rebuilding

  • *See rates and fees,terms apply.

Read our Discover it® Secured Credit Card review.

If you need a secured card with a higher spending limit, the Platinum Secured Mastercard® fromFirst Tech Federal Credit Union might be a good fit. It has a maximum credit limit of $25,000 and offers 1X points on all purchases.

Platinum Secured Mastercard®

Information about the Platinum Secured Mastercard® has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

Terms apply.


  • Does pre-qualification mean approval?
  • What to do if you pre-qualify
  • What to do if you don't pre-qualify
  • Which credit score do banks use for credit cards?
  • How many credit cards can you apply for without hurting your credit?

Does pre-qualification mean approval?

Pre-qualification is not a guarantee of approval. There's a chance you'll pre-qualify for a card and still be denied during the official application process.

A pre-qualification form only provides the lender with partial information. If you decide to submit an actual application, lenders will receive a more holistic picture of your finances. Multiple factors, such as your monthly housing payment, credit score and income, are taken into consideration.

What to do if you pre-qualify

When you submit a pre-qualification form, you'll typically receive several credit card offers that you have good approval odds for. Once you choose an offer, you still need to submit an official application.

Here are two steps to take after you pre-qualify for a card:

  • Compare credit cards. Pre-qualification is a great way to shop around for the best credit card offers without hurting your credit score. We recommend submitting multiple pre-qualification requests so you can compare the fees, rewards and added perks to find the card that provides the most value for your needs.
  • Submit an official application. Once you decide which card is the best fit, submit an official application. You'll typically receive a decision immediately, though it can take longer in some cases. If you're approved, great! If you're denied, you can apply for one of the other cards you were pre-qualified for.

What to do if you don't pre-qualify

If you were denied a pre-qualification, it's not the end of the world — you still have options. After all, pre-qualification only looks at part of your finances. An official credit card application provides the lender with more information on your financial situation.

Here are some actions you can take if you didn't pre-qualify for a card:

  • Apply for the card anyway. While this is an option, you most likely have slim chances of approval. Still, an official application considers more factors, such as income and employment status, which may improve your odds. Just beware that each application you submit results in a hard credit inquiry and may lower your credit score by a few points.
  • Try to pre-qualify for different cards. If you were denied pre-qualification by one card issuer, try another and you may have better luck. Since it doesn't hurt your credit score, you can submit multiple pre-qualification forms to increase the chances you'll pre-qualify.
  • Improve your credit. Take some time to work on raising your credit score. Practice responsible credit behavior, such as making on-time payments and using a small amount of your credit. If you don't have a credit card yet, ask a family member with good credit if they'll add you as an authorized user. This allows you to piggyback off their positive credit. After you've seen improvements in your credit score, try to pre-qualify again.
  • Consider applying for a secured card. If you don't have much credit history and are struggling to get approved for a credit card, another option is signing up for a secured card. With a secured card, you put down a deposit (typically starting at $200) and have access to a credit limit up to that amount. Many secured credit cards allow you to upgrade to an unsecured card after making on-time payments for a certain amount of time.

Which credit score do banks use for credit cards?

The most commonly used credit scoring model is the FICO® score. The FICO scoring model is frequently updated but is based on five main factors:

  • Payment history (35%)
  • Amounts owed (30%)
  • Length of credit history (15%)
  • New credit (10%)
  • Credit mix (10%)

There are a many ways to check your credit score for free and you can access your full credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies for free at least once a year. Credit scores fall into ranges that are classified from poor to excellent.

FICO Score categories:

  • Poor: 300 to 579
  • Fair: 580 to 669
  • Good: 670 to 739
  • Very good: 740 to 799
  • Excellent: 800 to 850

How many credit cards can you apply for without hurting your credit?

There's no limit to how many credit cards you can apply for, but applying for a lot of credit cards in a short period could be a red flag to card issuers. And each application results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which temporarily lowers your credit score.

When deciding how many credit cards you should have it's important to consider how you'll manage multiple credit cards. Paying late fees for missing due dates and getting stuck with annual fees for cards you didn't want to keep can quickly add up.

It's generally a good idea to wait six months between credit card applications. Depending on your other financial goals, you may want to be even more conservative with card applications. If you're planning on refinancing your mortgage or purchasing a home, then you may want to hold off on card applications for a while. Too many inquiries can reduce your credit score, which can affect the mortgage rate you can qualify for.

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Bottom line

Checking to see if you're pre-qualified for a credit card offer doesn't hurt your credit score. But, being pre-qualified for a card also doesn't guarantee you'll be approved once you submit an official application.

Card issuers consider your income, employment status, credit score and other factors to determine whether they will issue you a specific card. If you're struggling to get approved for the best credit cards, you may be able to build your credit with a secured credit card, which is typically easier to be approved for.

Catch up on CNBC Select's in-depth coverage ofcredit cards,bankingandmoney, and follow us onTikTok,Facebook,InstagramandTwitterto stay up to date.

Read more

The best credit cards for fair and average credit

What is a good credit score and how to get one

Prequalified vs preapproved: What you need to know about your approval chances for a credit card

Looking to apply for a credit card? Know if you're eligible and have this information ready

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

How to check your odds of getting approved for a credit card without hurting your credit score (2024)


How to check your odds of getting approved for a credit card without hurting your credit score? ›

However, many of the biggest credit card issuers offer a pre-qualification or preapproval process that lets you avoid that hit to your scores, at least initially. These screening processes look at your basic credit information and run a "soft" credit check to determine your likelihood of approval.

How to check credit card approval without affecting credit score? ›

Many credit card issuers offer something called prequalification. This means you may be able to check if you qualify for a credit card before applying, and without generating a hard inquiry into your credit report.

How to apply for credit cards without hurting your credit score? ›

Before applying for a credit card, it's a good idea to get pre-approved. Pre-approval typically results in only a soft inquiry into your credit—which means it won't impact your credit scores.

Is there a way to check your credit score without hurting it? ›

Checking your own credit report or score won't affect your credit scores. It's an example of a soft inquiry—a request for credit info that does not affect credit scores. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax now offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through

What is the 5/24 rule? ›

What is the 5/24 rule? Many card issuers have criteria for who can qualify for new accounts, but Chase is perhaps the most strict. Chase's 5/24 rule means that you can't be approved for most Chase cards if you've opened five or more personal credit cards (from any card issuer) within the past 24 months.

What credit card has a $2000 limit for bad credit? ›

First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

Choose your own fully-refundable credit line – $200 to $2000 – based on your security deposit. No minimum credit score required for approval!

Can I see if I qualify for a credit card without hurting my credit? ›

Terms like pre-approve, prequalify and prescreen typically refer to a process that allows potential cardholders to check credit card offers, often without harming their credit scores. But there's no legal standard. So different issuers might use different terms.

Why did my credit score drop 100 points after opening a credit card? ›

When you open a new credit account, it lowers the overall age of your credit. In addition to the age of credit, opening up any new credit account generally requires a hard inquiry, which could ding your credit score a few points temporarily. After about two years, the inquiry should drop off.

Which bank approves a credit card easily? ›

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is our top pick for easiest credit card to get because it's geared toward those with limited/poor credit. It offers great rewards and charges a $0 annual fee. Plus, Discover will conduct monthly account reviews after seven months to see if you qualify to get your deposit refunded.

What are poor approval odds? ›

Excellent: 750 to 850. Good: 700 to 749. Fair: 650 to 699. Poor: 550 to 649. Very Poor: 300 to 549.

Does checking FICO score hurt credit? ›

Checking your credit reports or credit scores will not impact credit scores. Regularly checking your credit reports and credit scores is a good way to ensure information is accurate. Hard inquiries in response to a credit application do impact credit scores.

Can I run a credit check on myself? ›

You can request annual credit reports for free from each of the 3 major reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax® and TransUnion®—online via or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

Why does my credit score go down if I check it? ›

Checking your credit score on your own, which is a soft credit check or inquiry, doesn't hurt your credit score. But when a creditor or lender runs a credit check, that's often a hard credit check, which could affect your credit score.

Can you get pre approved for a credit card without hurting your credit? ›

No—they may involve a soft inquiry, which won't affect your credit score. If you are pre-approved for a specific card you will receive an offer. The offer itself doesn't generate a hard inquiry, so don't worry—just because you have the offer doesn't mean you've hurt your score.

What credit checker does not affect credit score? ›

Checking your free credit scores on Credit Karma doesn't hurt your credit. These credit score checks are known as soft inquiries, which don't affect your credit at all. Hard inquiries (also known as “hard pulls”) generally happen when a lender checks your credit while reviewing your application for a financial product.

Does checking credit card eligibility affect credit score? ›

A credit card eligibility checker will also involve a soft search, and so it won't affect your credit report. A prospective employer might also run a soft search before hiring you.

Does accepting a pre-approved credit card affect credit score? ›

No, because prescreened offers and pre-approval involve a soft inquiry. Also known as a soft pull or soft credit check, a soft inquiry doesn't affect your credit scores. The soft inquiry is simply a way for lenders to determine whether you may qualify for their credit card offer.

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