If you’re applying for a new credit card, you should know that you’re merely one of a vast number of applicants. Every day, credit card issuers receive hundreds of thousands of applications, according to the December 2015 Consumer Credit Card Market report by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
With so much competition, you’ll need to do what you can to increase the likelihood of getting your credit card application approved, especially if your credit history isn’t stellar. Here are five tips to improve your chances of approval when you apply for credit cards.
1. Apply on Your Desktop Computer, Not Your Phone
You probably know how to apply for a credit card: You can mail your application or apply online or over the phone. Smartphone applications and web browsers can make applying for a credit card more convenient; however, desktop credit applications are 77 percent more likely to be approved than mobile applications, according to the Adobe Digital Index’s State of Banking Report from May 2016.
Rather than hastily applying for a credit card from your mobile device, complete your online credit card application from a desktop computer so you’ll potentially have a significantly better chance of being approved.
2. Don’t Apply During the Holiday Season
As the number of submitted credit card applications increases, the approval rates decrease, according to the State of Banking Report. A credit card company flooded with applications might be less likely to approve requests, particularly by people without excellent credit.
Many people apply for credit cards during the holiday season in order to secure a way to pay for gifts and other seasonal expenses. The number of applications for private label credit cards — such as those issued by retail stores — can be as much as 60 percent greater in the last quarter of a year than in the first three months, according to the Consumer Credit Card Market report.
Consider applying for credit cards only between January and September to improve your chances of credit card approval; applying between January and March might be best for optimizing your chances of getting approved.
3. Don’t Be Desperate for a Credit Card
You might think your chances of getting a credit card approved are better if you apply for many different credit cards; however, the opposite could be true. According to myFICO, the consumer division of FICO that provides FICO scores to the majority of lenders, it can hurt your credit score if you apply for too many cards in a short period of time.
Shop around for credit cards that cater to applicants with credit scores in the same range as yours. Be selective about which cards you apply for. If you have bad credit, don’t apply for a credit card that’s intended for people with high credit scores, such as the credit cards with generous travel rewards.
4. Get a Secured Credit Card
One option to establish or improve your credit is to first get a secured credit card. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the nation’s largest and longest serving nonprofit financial counseling organization, recommends taking this step. When you have a secured credit card, you pay the full amount of your credit limit to the card issuer as a security deposit. You’re responsible for paying your monthly charges. If you don’t make your payments, you might lose part of the deposit.
Although it’s not required, the credit card issuer might report your monthly payment activity for the secured credit card to the credit bureaus. Consistently paying your secured credit card bills on time can help boost your credit score over time.
Anything you can do to improve your credit score should increase your chances of getting your credit card application for a regular, unsecured credit card approved — possibly by the same bank that issued your secured credit card.
5. Pay by Automatic Debit
Your credit card application has a better chance of being accepted if you have good or excellent credit. Your payment history — which shows whether you have habitually paid all your bills on time — is one of the most important factors in determining your credit score, according to the Federal Reserve.
Even people who are organized can forget to pay a bill. You might want to set up your credit card account to automatically debit from your savings or checking account the amount of the minimum payment due — or even the whole balance — before the due date.
Make sure you have enough funds in your checking or savings account to cover the amount of your credit card payment each month, especially if you set up automatic payments, so that you don’t overdraft. You should always check your credit card bill because the amount of the minimum payment due and statement balance might vary each month.
Many Applications Are Rejected
If your credit card application is rejected, you’re certainly not alone. More than 24 percent of people surveyed were denied credit at least once in the prior 12 months, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2014 Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households.
You don’t have to be part of that 24 percent, however. If you take action to improve your credit score and apply for credit strategically, you can increase your odds of getting approved for a card.