The Best Preapproved Credit Cards of 2023

Credit card shopping can be a daunting task for many individuals, given the numerous options available. Fortunately, credit card experts can assist in sifting through the choices, analyzing the various pros and cons, and ultimately identifying the most suitable credit card.

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Applying for multiple credit cards simultaneously can have its downsides, as it requires accurately determining which cards are within reach and worth applying for. To ease this process, several credit card companies offer options for borrowers to get “preapproved” or “pre-qualified” for specific cards. While this doesn’t guarantee approval, it helps streamline the selection process.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the concepts of preapproval and pre-qualification, highlighting their differences, and providing insights into the credit cards that offer these options. By understanding these aspects, prospective cardholders can make more informed decisions while navigating the world of credit cards.

What does preapproval mean?

Preapproval is a useful process for credit card companies to assess the likelihood of a customer’s approval for a specific credit card. Although being preapproved doesn’t guarantee full approval, it indicates a good chance of success, provided the individual formally applies. The preapproval process involves a “soft inquiry” into the person’s credit, which doesn’t impact their credit score, unlike the “hard inquiry” associated with a formal application. This prescreening approach allows credit card companies to quickly verify the applicant’s identity and basic financial information.

In the online realm, preapproval serves multiple purposes. It helps customers narrow down their options by providing a list of preapproved cards, preventing them from wasting time on unrealistic choices. Moreover, credit card company websites often prompt visitors to fill out a preapproval form, which creates a sense of progress and brings customers closer to potential success. Offline, preapprovals are also employed to attract customers by sending preapproval notices and offers through the mail, encouraging them to consider specific cards.

It’s important to note that preapproval is not a guarantee of full approval. While it indicates a good chance of success, formal application and further assessment are still required to determine the final decision. The preapproval process involves a “soft inquiry” into the individual’s credit, which doesn’t harm their credit score, even if performed multiple times. This efficient prescreening approach allows credit card companies to quickly verify identity and basic financial information, expediting the process for potential applicants.

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Online, preapproval serves as a valuable tool for both customers and credit card companies. Customers benefit from a narrowed down list of preapproved options, saving them time and helping them focus on realistic choices. For credit card companies, it’s a marketing strategy that makes customers feel one step closer to success with the available options. By encouraging customers to fill out preapproval forms, credit card companies engage potential applicants and create a sense of progress in their credit card search. Additionally, offline preapprovals are still utilized through mailed notices and offers, enticing customers to consider specific cards.

Preapproval vs. pre-qualification

Pre-qualifying for a credit card involves assessing a borrower’s basic creditworthiness to determine which cards they have a good chance of getting approved for. This process is simpler and typically requires only a name, address, and social security number. It helps individuals avoid the hassle of a formal application, hard inquiry, and potential waiting period.

On the other hand, preapproval often goes a step further and may include an actual soft credit check. It requires more detailed information such as income, expenses, and existing debts, making it potentially more accurate and likely to result in specific credit card offers with a defined APR figure.

It’s important to note that while some people and credit card companies use pre-qualification and preapproval interchangeably, they are not exactly the same. The key distinction lies in the level of scrutiny and information required during the evaluation process. Both, however, serve as valuable tools for prospective credit card applicants to gauge their likelihood of approval without committing to a formal application.

How to get a preapproval or pre-qualification for a card

Receiving preapproval or pre-qualification for a credit card is a straightforward process. Many individuals begin by visiting the websites of major banks and credit card issuers. These websites often have a dedicated link or form for preapproval or pre-qualification, making it convenient for users to apply. Upon completing the form, the website promptly informs the applicant about their preapproval status.

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Aside from bank websites, credit card preapproval offers can be found through various channels. Online advertisements, emails, and mailed promotions are common ways to discover such offers. These methods allow prospective cardholders to explore different preapproval options and choose the one that suits their needs best.

Issuers/cards that offer preapproval or pre-qualification

American Express

American Express’s website offers visitors a preapproval check when they click on most credit card offerings. This process is known as “Apply With Confidence” or simply “Apply.” To complete the preapproval check, individuals need to provide their full Social Security Number (or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for those without an SSN), total annual income, non-taxable annual income, main income source, and other basic personal identifying information. Some of the American Express cards that offer a preapproval step include:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Gold Card
  • American Express® Green Card
  • Blue Cash Cards
  • Amex Everyday Cards
  • Delta SkyMiles Cards
  • Hilton Honors Cards
  • Marriott Bonvoy Cards

Bank of America

Bank of America provides personalized offers to all prospective cardholders. Their prequalification process requires applicants to provide their name, birth date, the last four digits of their social security number, address, and card preference. While this process may make it easier to receive approval for recommended cards, it may not be as accurate as the more thorough checks offered by other companies.

Capital One

Capital One offers a preapproval process for some of its credit cards, prominently advertising it on their website. However, not all of their popular cards allow preapproval. The generic preapproval page asks for basic identifying information, annual income, monthly rent or mortgage payments, type of bank account, and Social Security number. Capital One credit cards that offer preapproval include:

  • Capital One Platinum Credit Card
  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
  • Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
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Citi

Citi® doesn’t explicitly advertise preapproval or pre-qualification steps on its website, but it offers a “prescreen” page that works similarly to pre-qualification. However, it doesn’t specify if this feature applies to specific cards.

Discover

Discover advertises credit card preapproval on its website, but it doesn’t mention the specific cards available for preapproval. The preapproval page requires basic personal identifying information, total income, and housing expenses.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo provides pre-qualification opportunities, referred to as “pre-selected credit card offers,” with one of the most straightforward forms to complete. The pre-qualification page on their website asks for basic personal identification info and the last four digits of the SSN. Some of Wells Fargo’s credit card offerings include:

  • Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
  • Bilt World Elite Mastercard®
  • Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
  • Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

Bottom line

Opportunities for credit card preapproval, pre-qualification, preselection, or prescreening are worth exploring during the search for the right credit card. However, it’s essential to differentiate them from a formal credit card application, which is typically still necessary regardless of the prior steps. It’s important to note that receiving preapproval doesn’t guarantee approval after the official application, though seeking preapproval or pre-qualification beforehand won’t negatively impact your credit prospects.

When considering credit cards, exploring preapproval, pre-qualification, or other similar options can be beneficial. These steps can help you assess your eligibility without committing to a formal application. Keep in mind that while preapproval can provide valuable information, it doesn’t guarantee approval when you apply officially. However, engaging in pre-qualification or preselection won’t harm your credit score, so it’s worth looking into these options.

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