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Best credit cards that offer preapproval for September 2021

These cards take the guesswork out of the application process.

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If you've ever received mail, there's a strong chance you've seen an offer for a "preapproved" credit card. Banks and credit card issuers send a lot of these offers to people they've identified as good potential customers, either by running a soft pull -- that is, accessing a limited portion of your credit history -- or buying a mailing list from one of the credit bureaus

If you get one of these offers, it's fair to assume that your credit score and financial standing are strong enough to be approved, though this may not be the case every time. But if you haven't been approached, issuers of these cards may let you check your eligibility first -- before actually going through the process of submitting an application. Here are our recommendations for the best preapproval credit cards. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Balance Transfer APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable
Foreign Transaction Fees 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Our Take

With a long list of opportunities to earn cash back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card may be the best of the preapproval credit cards when you use your card for everyday purchases and want to maximize cash-back rewards. There's no annual fee to eat into your cash-back earnings, the $200 welcome bonus has a low spending requirement of only $500 in the first three months, and 1.5% cash back is a competitive flat rate -- especially for a preapproved card.

Keep in mind that Chase may have a special 5/24 rule for applicants: It may not approve you if you've opened five new credit cards in the past 24 months, even if you're preapproved.

Discover it® Cash Back

See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro BonusIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
APR11.99% - 22.99% Variable
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% for 14 months
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Balance Transfer APR11.99% - 22.99% Variable
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $40.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Our Take

The Discover it® Cash Back* credit card has no annual fee and minimal additional fees, even if you accidentally forget to pay your statement balance when it's due (payment forgiveness is granted the first time you miss a payment and they charge up to a $40 late fee each time after). You can maximize your rewards by timing big purchases to line up with this card's 5% cash back rotating categories -- through September 2021 you can earn 5% cash back on restaurants and PayPal purchases when activated (on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, then 1%). And 1% cash back on all other purchases is a solid option, though not as good as our Chase Freedom Unlimited pick, especially if you can't risk getting denied for a higher flat-rate cash-back card.

Discover has a preapproval page that can determine if a Discover it® Cash Back is in your future.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Card Highlights
Intro BonusEnjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
APR15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
Annual Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A
Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR
Balance Transfer APR15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

Our Take

Travel rewards cards often come with perks like travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees and free trips when you exchange points or miles. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card* offers all of those -- and if you're approved, you could earn 60,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in your first three months of membership.

You'll earn miles with every purchase and also get a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, save on foreign transaction fees and have the ability to transfer the miles you earn to over 15 travel loyalty programs to redeem for hotel stays or flights.

Find out if you qualify before applying at Capital One's preapproval page

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

See Rates and Fees Terms Apply
Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
APR13.99%-23.99% Variable
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% on Purchases for 15 months
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee N/A
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.
Penalty APR 29.99% Variable
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases

Our Take

American Express is particular about eligibility requirements, and applicants should have good to excellent credit. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers higher cash-back tiers for US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), US gas stations and select US department stores. It offers a fairly standard 1% cash back on other purchases. This card gives you the flexibility to pay off your balance in full each month or opt for Plan It® to set up a payment plan with no interest charges on purchases of $100 or more. You'll pay a fixed monthly fee instead. Overall, it's a decent card for those looking for an Amex card with no annual fee, but it offers lackluster benefits and rewards compared to other American Express cards.

If you haven't received an offer in the mail, you can find out if you prequalify for the card first by visiting the credit card offers page and providing your identifying information, the last four digits of your Social Security number and your income.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

BankAmericard® credit card

Card Highlights
Intro BonusNew Offer! $100 statement credit online bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
APR12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Balance Transfer APR12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR none

Our Take

The BankAmericard® credit card* doesn't offer perks and rewards typically found with other cards, but its standout feature is the long break it offers from interest -- 0% introductory APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases and any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (12.99% to 22.99% variable APR thereafter). It also has no annual fee.

You can visit Bank of America's page to find out if you have any customized offers.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR26.99% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Limited, Bad
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A
Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR
Balance Transfer APR26.99% (Variable)
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR None

Our Take

Individuals with less-than-stellar credit can have a difficult time finding a credit card. A secured card -- a card requiring a security deposit -- may offer no frills, but it's a good option to rebuild credit. While most secured credit cards require you to put the equivalent of the credit limit down, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card* doesn't require a full deposit. 

Although you may prequalify for an initial $200 limit, you may only need to provide a refundable deposit of $49, $99 or $200. As you establish a positive credit relationship with Capital One, your deposit may be returned to you. As for the low credit limit, Capital One will review your account after six months to consider a credit-limit increase. 

While getting approved for a secured card is generally easier than a traditional credit card, if you can't risk a denial, you can check out the Capital One preapproval page.

FAQs

What's the difference between prequalified credit cards and preapproved credit cards?

Preapproval and prequalification are similar. They both suggest you have good odds to get the card you applied for but that there are no absolute guarantees. Prequalified cards can mean that the issuer has found you are the type of consumer that's a good fit. Preapproval means the card company has taken a deeper look at your credit history and income and feels confident you'll receive an approval if you apply.

How does the preapproval process work?

Getting preapproved is typically done online. You'll need to provide your annual income and identifying information, such as your name and address, as well as the last four digits of your Social Security number. You'll receive personalized offers based on the card issuer's initial findings. 

There is no commitment required during the preapproval process. Your credit score won't be affected either, since only a soft pull is performed on your credit. If you decide to move forward with an application, the card provider will do a hard credit check.

Am I guaranteed approval when preapproved for a credit card?

A credit card soft inquiry won't affect your credit, but doesn't do an in-depth search into your credit history. A preapproval isn't a guarantee that you'll be approved for a credit card when you apply. See it more as an invitation to apply with good odds of approval. 

Jim Pendergast, senior vice president of altLINE, a division of The Southern Bank Company, explains, "You can be denied approval if you are preapproved on the website because the information has changed since the last time the credit bureau sent information. Credit reports change daily, so it's possible that the information is simply old. You can also be denied if you've changed your name. Finally, you'll most likely be denied when you display increasing debt or late payments."

Which credit card providers offer preapproval?

Not all credit card providers offer a preapproval inquiry form. Some card companies have their own version of a prequalification and mail out selective special card offers. In other cases, logging into your bank or card account will display preapproved card offers the typical person won't have access to. The following card providers offer preapproval or prequalification for consumers who inquire:

Cards researched

  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card
  • Apple Card
  • BankAmericard® credit card
  • Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
  • Best Buy® Store Card
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
  • Capital One Platinum Credit Card
  • Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Discover it® Secured Credit Card
  • Chime Credit Builder Visa® Secured Credit Card
  • Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
  • Discover it® Cash Back
  • OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
  • Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card
  • Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, click here

*All information about the Discover it Cash Back, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, BankAmericard credit card, and Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.