Credit Cards That Offer Pre-Qual or Preapproval Without a Hard Pull

Many issuers can determine your odds of qualifying without a credit check. A few cards show an offer, with a credit limit and APR, before you accept.

Melissa LambarenaJuly 31, 2020
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Traditionally, when you apply for a credit card, the card issuer conducts what's known as a "hard pull" on your credit report to determine your creditworthiness. Such hard inquiries can ding your credit scores temporarily.

But several 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. Soft inquiries don't affect your scores.

Then, if you decide to formally apply for the card, the hard pull will still happen (almost always). But the prescreening process will have given you a good sense of where you stand — whether the hard pull is going to be worth it. A few credit cards will even show you your specific offer, including credit limit and APR, before you accept the hard pull.

These prescreened offers tend to come and go, but they're generally widely available among issuers. Here are some of our favorite cards that offer some version of the feature:

Nerd tip: Unlike with mortgages, the distinction between credit card "pre-qualification" and "preapproval" isn't as clear, and some card issuers even use the terms interchangeably. Generally, preapproved offers are a bit more official in terms of your odds, but in either case, issuers try to match you with cards that best fit your credit. The most reliable offers are preapprovals from a bank you have a relationship with. That bank already has the information it needs to make a decision.

Top credit cards that offer preapproval without a hard pull

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: No credit check at all

WHY WE LIKE IT

Capital Bank Open Sky Secured Credit Card
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The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is a rarity even among secured credit cards, in that it allows you to qualify without a bank account or any kind of credit check. It requires a minimum $200 security deposit, which sets the amount of your credit limit. With a good payment history, you'll get this money back once you move on to a different credit card and close the account. Payments are reported to all three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. These companies gather the information used to calculate your credit scores. The card has a $35 annual fee.

Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students

Our pick for: Student-friendly features

WHY WE LIKE IT

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students
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International and domestic students can build credit and earn rewards with the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students. The card offers a pre-qualification process, but because of Deserve’s alternative underwriting standards, it's possible to qualify for the card with no credit history. (International students may even qualify without a Social Security number.) The issuer reports payments to Experian and TransUnion. Cardholders also earn 1% cash back on all purchases. It has a $0 annual fee.

Petal 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: Beginner-friendly features

WHY WE LIKE IT

Petal 2 Credit Card
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The Petal 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card offers a preapproval process, but the card's issuer (WebBank) can look at more than just traditional FICO scores to determine creditworthiness, potentially making it easier for those new to credit to qualify based on income, savings and spending, for example. The card earns rewards and has a $0 annual fee.

Upgrade Card

Our pick for: Fixed monthly payments

WHY WE LIKE IT

Upgrade Card
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The Upgrade Card combines features of both a credit card and a personal loan, making budgeting easier with fixed monthly payments when you don’t pay off your monthly bill in full. The issuer charges a fixed interest rate on any balance remaining. Depending on your creditworthiness, you’ll have 24 to 60 months to pay off the amount in installments, though you can also prepay without penalty. You’ll see your potential credit limit when you go through the preapproval process, before you officially apply and accept the terms of the card — visibility that isn't generally offered in a standard application process. The card reports to the three major credit bureaus, and the annual fee is $0.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our pick for: Average credit and rewards

WHY WE LIKE IT

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is available to those with average credit (FICO scores of at least 630), and you can determine your odds of eligibility with the card's pre-qualification process. It earns a solid 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and cardholders may be considered for a potential credit limit increase in as little as six months. You won't get a shot at earning a sign-up bonus or a 0% intro APR period, though, and there's an annual fee.

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

Our pick for: Average credit and no annual fee

WHY WE LIKE IT

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is a low-maintenance option ideal for those with average credit. As with the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can pre-qualify quickly and know where you stand and, if approved, you might potentially qualify for a higher credit limit within six months. It doesn’t offer rewards like that other card does, but it doesn't charge the annual fee, either.

AvantCard Credit Card

Our pick for: Limited credit

WHY WE LIKE IT

AvantCard Credit Card
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The AvantCard Credit Card offers a chance to build credit without a security deposit. You can determine your odds of approval through the card's pre-qualification process. Over time, you may also qualify for a higher credit limit. The issuer periodically reviews accounts for potential credit limit increases. Payments are reported to all three major credit bureaus. It has a $39 annual fee.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Our pick for: Good credit

WHY WE LIKE IT

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Credit Card
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The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a pre-qualification process, though you'll need at least good credit to get this product (FICO scores of 690 and up). It earns 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent per year, then 1%); 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores; and 1% on all other purchases. It has a $0 annual fee. Terms apply.

Apple Card

Our pick for: Instant gratification

WHY WE LIKE IT

If it’s your priority to have the latest Apple gadget and you’re an avid Apple Pay user, you can get good value from the Apple Card. It earns 3% cash back on qualifying Apple Pay purchases made at Apple and at a handful of other select merchants. All other purchases with the card via Apple Pay earn 2% cash back. (You earn only 1% back when you use the physical card.) The Apple Card also offers instant gratification, both when it comes to the approval process and receiving rewards. You can use the card instantly upon approval and redeem rewards more or less immediately after earning them, no waiting period required. A pre-qualification process allows you to see your terms — including credit limit and APR — before accepting the offer and officially applying. It has a $0 annual fee.

HMBradley Credit Card

Our pick for: HMBradley customers

WHY WE LIKE IT

HMBradley bank account holders with good credit may receive an offer link in their account dashboards for the HMBradley credit card, which offers automatic rewards that you can customize in frequent spending categories. You’ll earn 3% cash back in your highest spending category per statement cycle, 2% back on the second-highest spending category and 1% on all other purchases. As with the Upgrade Card and the Apple Card, you'll be able to see some of the terms you qualify for before you accept the offer. The card costs $5 per month to carry ($60 per year), but that fee is waived in the first year.

What to expect from card issuers

Most major issuers offer pre-qualification tools, but each requires different information to process the request. The table below provides links to issuer prequalification pages, as well as what's required from you.

Issuer

Required Information

Full name, address, last 4 digits of your Social Security number, income (optional)

Full name, address, date of birth, last 4 digits of your Social Security number, what kind of card you want

Full name, address, date of birth, your full Social Security number, what kind of card you want

Full name, address, last 4 digits of your Social Security number

Full name, address, last 4 digits of your Social Security number, what kind of card you want. (NOTE: Citi is not currently offering pre-qualification online.)

Full name, address, birth date, full Social Security number, whether you’re a student, whether you have bank accounts, housing status, income, what kind of card you want

Full name and address, date of birth, full Social Security number, email address

* If you currently have an American Express card that you manage online, you may have to clear your browser cookies or use an "incognito" browser window to see the pre-qualification page.

Nerd tip: Issuers don't necessarily make all cards available for pre-qualification at all times. In June 2020, for example, Capital One was offering "pre-qual" only for its secured card and its cards for average credit, and Citi was offering it on no cards at that time.

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