Wells Fargo offers balance transfer credit cards, rewards credit cards and travel credit cards, but applying for too many will temporarily lower your credit score. Preapproval, prequalification, or -- as Wells Fargo refers to it -- preselection all check to see your chances of getting approved for a credit card without undergoing a hard credit check. You may be solicited with a preapproval offer in the mail, or you may check on a credit card issuer’s website.
What is credit card preapproval and how does it work?
To be preapproved or preselected for a credit card means a credit card issuer has matched your basic financial information (for example, your credit score and payment history) with one of the cards it provides. Preapproval offerings are meant to build your confidence in order to get you to apply for a credit card.
To determine your preapproval (or in this case, preselection) status, the issuer will request a soft credit check, or a superficial check of your financial information that doesn’t lower your credit score.
You can opt to submit the information yourself via a credit card issuer’s website to find out if you’re preselected for any of its cards, or an issuer may request a soft credit pull without your knowledge.
However, it’s important to note that just because you’re preapproved or preselected for a credit card doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to become a cardholder.
In order to actually become a cardholder, you’ll have to fill out an application which includes more in depth financial information including your income, rent or mortgage payments and Social Security number. Applying for a credit card will result in a hard credit inquiry which will typically lower your credit score -- albeit temporarily -- by a few points.
What is the difference between preapproval, prequalification and preselection?
Most credit card companies use the terms interchangeably. However, Citi and Wells Fargo, for example, opt for a third term -- preselection. Preselection essentially means the same thing.
Preapproval is usually based on your financial information that was collected by a third-party, mostly one of the three credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. It could indicate that you have a higher chance of getting approved for a credit card than if you were prequalified. Prequalification usually refers to financial information that was gathered by an issuer without using a credit bureau.
Preselection seems to indicate you’ve met some initial criteria for a credit card, but you may not have as high of a chance of approval when compared to prequalification or preapproval.
Whether you’re preapproved, prequalified or preselected, there will be no impact to your credit. Again, in order to actually become a cardholder, you’ll need to submit a formal credit card application with specific financial information.
When you’re ready to apply, Wells Fargo will conduct a hard credit check to determine your creditworthiness and decide which terms you’ll get if you’re approved for the card.
How to get preselected for a Wells Fargo credit card
You can check if you’re eligible for preselection on Wells Fargo’s website. You’ll need to submit your name, address and the last four digits of your SSN. Again, this won’t impact your credit in any way.
If you are preselected for a Wells Fargo credit card, it means you have a good chance of being approved -- though it’s not a guarantee. You can fill out an application with all the required information and Wells Fargo should get back to you promptly with its decision.
The bottom line
Preapproval, prequalification or preselection all indicate that a credit card issuer matched some of your preliminary financial information with one of its credit cards and found you have a good shot at being approved. It’s designed to give you a confidence boost and avoid a hard credit inquiry.
Most credit card issuers like American Express, Citi, Chase and Discover offer ways to check for preapproval, prequalification or preselection as well -- generally by going to the respective websites or by contacting the issuers directly.
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