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How to Find Out if You’re Prequalified for a Credit Card

Some credit card issuers let you gauge your approval odds before you apply. Here's why you should.

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Getting prequalified for a credit card doesn’t mean you’ll be automatically approved if you decide to apply. Instead, prequalification gives you an idea of how likely you are to be approved for the card without damaging your credit. Prequalification counts as a soft credit check, which won’t impact your credit score.

Not only can prequalification give you a general idea about whether you meet the basic requirements to get a credit card, but it can also help you learn the interest rates and other terms you may qualify for if you apply. Here’s what you need to know.

How to see if you’re prequalified for a credit card

Many credit card issuers, including American Express, Capital One and Wells Fargo, offer a way to see if you’re prequalified or preapproved. Here are some options for checking if you prequalify for a credit card:

  • Online: Some credit card issuers let applicants check for prequalification directly online, usually on the web page that advertises a specific card product.
  • Email: If you have a relationship with a credit card issuer already, you may receive an invitation to apply for a credit card electronically as well. 
  • Postal mail: You may also receive targeted offers through the mail, which are sent to consumers who meet the basic eligibility requirements for certain card products.

To apply for prequalification with a credit card issuer online, you’ll typically need to provide your name, address and the last four digits of your Social Security number. Once you’re prequalified, follow the card issuer’s offer to apply.

Again, just because you’re prequalified doesn’t mean you’ll be approved. You’ll still need to undergo a hard credit inquiry before the issuer makes its decision.

Issuers that offer prequalification

Some credit card issuers offer the chance to get preapproved for at least some of their card products. The chart below shows you where and how to take this step with the major credit card companies.

Credit card issuersHow to get prequalifiedRequired information
Bank of AmericaBank of America card preapproval formName
Date of birth
Last four digits of Social Security number (SSN)
Annual gross income
Preferred card type
American ExpressAmerican Express card prequalification formName
Date of birth
Last four digits of Social Security number (SSN)
Annual gross income
Capital OneCapital One card preapproval formName
Date of birth
Email address
Phone number
Highest level of education
Social Security number (SSN)
Housing/rent payment
Annual gross income
Preferred card type
DiscoverDiscover card preapproval formName
Date of birth
Social Security number (SSN)
Housing/rent payment
Annual gross income
Preferred card type
Wells FargoWells Fargo card prequalification formName
Date of birth
Last four digits of Social Security number (SSN)
Annual gross income

What’s the difference between preapproval and prequalification?

Some credit card issuers may use the two terms interchangeably, but there’s a distinction between preapproval and prequalification. There’s also a third term, preselection, that you could run across.

Of the three, preapproval typically indicates the highest chances of approval. It usually means the credit card company received information from one of the three major credit card bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- which helped it make a better-informed decision about your odds of approval.

Prequalification offers the next best likelihood of approval. It typically indicates a credit card issuer gathered some information about your credit profile and financial information independently, but the prequalification process is usually less extensive than the preapproval process. Instead, the card issuer uses preliminary facts to match you to one of its products.

Preselection means you’ve met some basic criteria and may qualify for a card. However, it’s not as strong an indicator of approval as prequalification or preapproval.

Will credit card prequalification hurt my credit score?

No. The main point of checking your prequalification status is to avoid any unnecessary damage to your credit. Whereas applying for any credit product involves a hard credit check, checking for prequalification requires a soft credit check. That means credit card issuers won’t be able to see your full credit report, but they can see certain pieces of information. Issuers can then use that information to match you with one of their products.

Note that if you’re prequalified for a card, you still need to undergo a hard credit check to formally apply for the card. This credit check can cause your credit score to dip slightly, but the damage should be only temporary and could be worth it if you can reap the benefits of a new credit card.

How to boost your chances of being prequalified

You can improve your chances for prequalification by raising your credit score. Here are a few ways to do that.

Make on-time payments

Since your payment history is the most important factor used to determine your credit score, making on-time payments on all your bills is crucial. The longer your history of positive payments, the better your credit score – and your shot at prequalification – will be.

Maintain a low credit utilization

Your credit utilization ratio is the second most important factor that determines your FICO score. You’ll want to maintain a ratio below 30% of your available credit for the best results. Some experts even recommend owing less than 10% of your available credit limits, if you can.

Eliminate existing debt

You can also lower your credit utilization and potentially improve your credit by getting rid of some of your existing credit card debt. Outside of applying for a new credit card, you can use debt repayment strategies like the debt snowball or avalanche method while stopping all activity on your credit cards.

What information do you have to provide to apply for a credit card?

Once you’re prequalified, you’ll need to fill out a full credit application to officially apply for the card. That typically requires:

  • Your full name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • Income
  • Rent or mortgage payments

You’ll then submit to a hard credit check and should hear back promptly regarding the credit card issuer’s decision. In some cases, the issuer may need more time to evaluate your application and will contact you within a few days to a few weeks.

The bottom line

Checking to see if you’re prequalified for a credit card can help you avoid unnecessary negative hits to your credit score. While it doesn’t completely ensure you’ll be approved for the card, it will give you a good idea of your chances. To officially apply for the card, you’ll still need to fill out an application and undergo a hard credit check.


You might receive prequalification offers in the mail or your email, but you can also check for prequalification yourself. Many credit card issuers have an online tool for finding out if you’re prequalified for one of their products.

You can be denied preapproval for a credit card due to your credit score, credit history, income or other factors. And even if you are preapproved, there’s a chance you won’t be approved for the credit card after you fill out a full application.

Yes, credit card companies will still run a hard credit check if you apply for the card after being prequalified. The initial credit check for prequalification is a soft credit check, which means it won’t affect your scores.

Correction: An earlier version of this article was assisted by an AI engine and it used some phrases that were not entirely original. Those phrases were replaced. This version has been substantially updated by a staff writer.

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Evan Zimmer has been writing about finance for years. After graduating with a journalism degree from SUNY Oswego, he wrote credit card content for Credit Card Insider (now Money Tips) before moving to ZDNET Finance to cover credit card, banking and blockchain news. He currently works with CNET Money to bring readers the most accurate and up-to-date financial information. Otherwise, you can find him reading, rock climbing, snowboarding and enjoying the outdoors.
Holly Johnson is a credit card expert and writer who covers rewards and loyalty programs, budgeting, and all things personal finance. In addition to writing for publications like Bankrate,, Forbes Advisor and Investopedia, Johnson owns Club Thrifty and is the co-author of "Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love."
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