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Preselection -- also called preapproval or prequalification -- is a way for you to check your chances of credit card approval without damaging your credit. Many card issuers offer some form of preselection, and Citi has its own preselection tool that lets you figure out your approval odds before officially applying for a card. While you may have come across a preselection solicitation from Citi by mail, you can use this tool to see if you match directly with any Citi credit cards.
What is credit card preapproval and how does it work?
Preapproval typically means a credit card issuer has matched some of your basic financial information -- such as your credit score and payment history -- with one of its credit card offerings. You’ll generally be preapproved after a soft credit check, or a surface-level check of your financial information, which won’t affect your credit score.
You can submit information yourself to see if you’re preapproved for a credit card, or credit card issuers can opt to run a soft credit pull without your permission. Either way, preapproval offers are meant to embolden you to apply.
A preapproval doesn’t guarantee approval, but it does indicate that you have a good chance. It can help you understand if it’s worth subjecting yourself (and your credit score) to a formal application.
To actually get approved for a credit card, you’ll need to submit a formal application with more detailed information including your Social Security number, income and monthly rent or mortgage payments. You’ll also undergo a hard credit check, which will temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.
What is the difference between preapproval and prequalification?
Some credit card issuers will use “prequalification” and “preapproval” interchangeably, but generally speaking preapproval means a higher chance of becoming a cardholder than prequalification.
Preapproval could indicate that the credit card issuer worked with one of the major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- to check if you’re a match for one of its cards, which could mean it has more information and thus you having a higher chance of approval.
Citi, however, prefers to refer to its process as preselection rather than preapproval or prequalification.
How to get preselected for a Citi credit card
Citi makes it pretty easy to see whether or not you’re preselected for one of its credit cards. You can head over to Citi’s preselection tool to see if you’re likely to qualify.
You’ll need to provide your name, email, address, the last four digits of your Social Security number and which type of credit card you’re interested in. Again, this will only result in a superficial soft credit inquiry, which won’t affect your credit score at all.
If you are preselected and want to submit an application, you’ll be subject to a hard credit inquiry that can typically lower your credit score by a few points.
Citi will likely get back to you instantly with its decision unless it requires clarification or additional information. Remember that if you are preselected, it doesn’t guarantee approval -- it just means you have a high probability of your application being accepted.
Why you should get preselected before applying for a Citi Card
Getting preapproved, prequalified or preselected for a card can help apply you for a new credit card with more confidence, while mitigating damage to your credit. Citi’s preselection tool gives you an idea of how likely you are to be approved before undergoing a hard credit check, which can lower your credit score temporarily.
The bottom line
Most credit card issuers -- including Citi -- offer preapproval for credit cards. You can either check online with the issuer or call directly. In some cases, you can find preapproval offers in your email or mailbox.
Just because you’re preapproved for a credit card doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. We recommend exploring cards across different issuers, like American Express, Capital One and Discover, then getting preapproved (if possible) for the card that best fits your lifestyle before applying.
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