How to See If You’re Prequalified for a Credit Card

Seeing if you’re prequalified is a common first step to applying for a new credit card. It’s a way to evaluate potential credit card offers and see where you stand based on your credit profile before you take the risk of submitting to a credit check.

But a lot of people misunderstand what it means to be prequalified for a credit card, and credit card companies are all too happy to perpetuate that confusion.

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly what prequalifying actually means (and how it’s different from “pre-approval”), how to see if you’re prequalified for a credit card and what to do when you see a prequalified offer.

What Is Prequalifying for a Credit Card?

“Prequalifying” for a credit card is a way of seeing which credit cards you have a chance of receiving if you apply and at what interest rates and credit limits. Prequalified offers aren’t official offers of credit and you can’t start in with your online retail purchases right away. They’re just a way for credit card issuers to market their products and encourage likely creditworthy borrowers to apply.

Card issuers don’t know what’s in your bank accounts and they don’t look at your credit score or credit report from a credit bureau for prequalification. Instead, they do what’s called a soft credit inquiry, where they use your Social Security number to pull basic credit information about you, including employment status, total annual income, assets and monthly debt payments.

In some cases, you won’t even enter a Social Security number. You can just give a lender or comparison site information about your financial situation and see prequalified offers.

Seeing if you’re prequalified for a credit card can be a useful step before officially applying for credit, especially if you have a poor credit score, fair credit score or a lot of outstanding debt.

Being prequalified isn’t a guarantee of approval, and you’re not likely to receive the exact terms…

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