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Does pre-approval guarantee a credit card?

Does pre-approval guarantee a credit card?
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Have you ever received a letter from a credit card provider offering you pre-approval on a new card? Are you wondering if this is a guarantee? Read this article to find out.

What is a credit card pre-approval?

It’s a special invitation that is sent by a credit card provider to encourage you to apply for a credit card.

Card providers prescreen mailing lists or their own customer databases using criteria such as credit scores. This is a ‘soft inquiry’ so it has no effect on the credit scores of those people that are prescreened.

Once they have selected appropriate potential customers, they send out invitation letters. These letters come with an application form and very often include special deals such as a low interest rate for a limited period.

Why are they used?

The main reason credit card providers send these letters is to promote their products. It’s an effective marketing tool used to attract new customers with special deals.

In the past, you may have received letters from card providers inviting you to apply for their products. This is because your name appears on a mailing list or because you already have a credit card.

Does it guarantee a credit card?

No, it does not. The term ‘pre-approval’ gives the misleading impression that you will automatically receive a card, but that is not the case.

The soft inquiry undertaken by the card providers will not identify any problems in your full credit history. So it is not enough to guarantee approval for a credit card.

So what is the point?

It’s understandable to think that this type of offer is just a clever marketing ploy. However, there are some advantages to using pre-approved offers.

  • You can avoid the time-consuming search for the best card since the card providers are coming to you.
  • The offer does not affect your credit score.
  • While it is not guaranteed, you may have a better chance of getting a pre-approved card then you would if you approached a provider without pre-approval.
  • You may get a better interest rate than you would if you approached a provider without an invite.

Remember that it’s a marketing exercise, so pre-approval tends to come with special offers. Such offers include intro bonuses, air miles or 0% introductory APR on balance transfers or purchases.

What happens when you apply?

Following pre-approval, you will need to submit an application form. The card provider will then be able to examine your full credit history. This is a ‘hard inquiry’ that can have an impact on your credit score.

The card provider will use the information from this hard inquiry to determine whether or not you will receive a card.

Bear in mind that the provider will also use this information to decide on an appropriate interest rate. This may not be the rate advertised in the letter they sent to you.

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How can you get pre-approval?

If you have not received this type of offer, it could be because your credit score is too low.

It is worth taking steps to improve your credit score. This will increase your chances of receiving offers from card providers.

Can you get a credit card without one?

Yes, you can. Your chances of getting a credit card will be dependent on your credit history and credit score. It is possible to get a credit card without pre-approval. You can apply directly to a card provider and you don’t need an invitation.

Final thoughts

If you receive this type of letter from a card provider, it’s a good idea to read all the information and make sure you understand the terms and conditions.

If you are looking for a credit card, check out our 2021 credit card reviews.

Looking for a new credit card?

Great credit card offers are out there — you just need to know where to look! If you’re after some of the top offers on the market, a great place to start is our list of the top credit cards.


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