How to Apply for a Credit Card

Blog Post08/31/2017
Credit Advice

Credit card companies are always looking for new customers, making the process of applying for a credit card relatively painless. In fact, you can often score some attractive perks by applying for a new card because the industry is so competitive. These perks can vary depending on whether you apply online, in person or via mail. Choosing the best method when you're deciding how to apply for a credit card just comes down to personal preference. Which is best for you?

Apply Online

Applying online is probably the easiest way to sign up for a new card — all major credit card companies have websites where you can apply for a wide range of options. You'll just need to supply two types of information: personal and financial. Required personal information includes your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. Financial information includes your employment status and annual income.

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Most applications also ask about your monthly housing payment, whether you rent or own your residence, and whether you have a checking or savings account. After you provide the requested information and agree to have your credit report checked, just click on "Apply Now" and your application will begin processing. You'll typically get a response in less than 60 seconds, letting you know whether your application was approved.

Apply in Person

Many banks have in-branch representatives who are more than happy to take your credit card application. Some banks even have mobile application centers at high-traffic areas, such as conventions or sporting events. In either case, you'll have to provide the same personal and financial information as you would if you applied online, but a bank representative will input the information into the system for you. You may receive different perks if you apply at a bank in person rather than online.

Apply Via Mail

Ever received an advertisement for a new credit card in your mailbox? That’s because companies often send unsolicited applications to potential customers rather than wait for them to apply on their own. If you're uncomfortable with applying online and don't want the hassle of going into a bank, you can simply fill out the application and return it to the credit card company via mail. Companies usually provide postage-paid return envelopes to expedite the process. Although the information required from you will be the same, your response time will be longer than if you apply online or in person, possibly a week or more.

Hybrid Applications

Some credit card companies send application forms in the mail and give customers the option of mailing the form back or applying online via a code in the mailer. This code, often called an invitation number, typically pre-fills an online application using publicly-available information tied to the code. For example, the form may pre-populate your application with information such as your name and home address when you type in an invitation number to an online application. This allows the bank to both track the success of its mailing campaign and to make the application process quicker for the consumer.

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