Advertiser Disclosure

Take the Stress Out of Applying for a Credit Card

Credit Cards
With so many websites offering free financial tools, it can be hard to know whom to trust. At NerdWallet, we spend literally 1,000s of hours researching partner offers and following strict editorial integrity to match you with the perfect choice. We even share how we make money so you can enjoy our expert advice and researched recommendations with total clarity and confidence.
Woman sitting relaxed

Sometimes applying for a credit card can feel like being picked for teams in gym class, only with more-personal questions. And if you’re not approved? Have fun starting the whole process over again. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to make credit card applications as painless as possible.

Consider how you’ll use the card

Taking a personal inventory before you start the credit card search process will save you pain and regret later. Do you tend to carry a balance from month-to-month? Finding the lowest APR possible will be important. Can you tolerate an annual fee? What will you use the card to buy? If you’re often on the road, make sure your card has gas rewards. If you’re a frequent flier, an airline credit card, or one with robust travel insurance, may be your best bet.

Do your research

It’s important to do some research before you apply for the first credit card offer you receive in the mail. Read reviews of as many cards as possible with rewards you want and fees you can tolerate. And ensure each is appropriate for your credit score. If you have poor credit, but are searching for rewards cards, you may need to broaden your search.

Be honest

It may seem obvious, but don’t lie on a credit card application. It’s just as important — if not more important — for you to find a card that’s a good fit for you as it is for the issuer to make sure you’re suitable. Account for all of your income sources. Don’t exaggerate, though.

Keep your credit under control

Your chances of getting approved for a credit card are better if your credit is in tip-top shape when you apply. Paying down debt is one of the most effective ways to do this, though it’s not always the easiest. You might also check your credit report a few months before you plan to apply for a credit card. This will give you time to check for errors and resolve any disputes.

The bottom line

If you do it right, applying for credit cards is a relatively quick and easy process. And if you know the best credit card for you, you’ll avoid applying for multiple cards at once. The credit inquiries caused by card applications have a small, negative impact on your credit score. As long as you keep applications to a minimum, however, and don’t close your old cards, adding another to your arsenal should boost your credit.


Image via iStock.