Couple holding their new card after learning how to get a credit card.

How to Get a Credit Card (And Avoid Rejection!)

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18% of credit card applications were rejected in 2022.

If you’re part of this 18%, you must be frustrated. 

Fortunately, I have some good news.  

You don’t need excellent credit to get a credit card. 

Yes, it’s actually possible to qualify for a credit card with bad or zero credit. 

Even if your credit score is 341, there’s a credit card out there for you.

To end the struggle, I’ve come up with a plan. Below, I’ll explain how to get a credit card and share some helpful tips!

How to Get a Credit Card in 5 Steps

Person holding up credit card they got after learning how to get a credit card.
Getting a credit card doesn’t have to be difficult!

Are you wondering how to get a credit card? 

Don’t worry! 

You’re in good hands. 

Follow my five-step guide, and you’ll be on your way to qualifying for a credit card.

1 – Determine Your Goals 

There are hundreds of credit cards available, tailored for various uses or financial situations. 

To start, I suggest determining what your financial goals are and applying for a card that’ll help you meet these goals.

To make this easier, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to build credit from scratch or increase my credit score? If you’re thinking about how to get a credit card with bad credit, a secured credit card may be a good choice since there aren’t minimum credit score requirements.
  • What do I plan on buying with the credit card? For instance, if you need a credit card to buy big-ticket, one-off items, opt for a card with a zero-interest introductory period. Introductory periods usually last around 12 months, so you’ll have plenty of time to spread out payments interest-free!
  • What kind of rewards would I benefit most from? If you’re a frequent traveler, you might look at a travel credit card because they earn more points for things like flights, hotels, and car rentals. If you’re more of a homebody, consider checking out cards with higher cashback percentages for everyday purchases like groceries or gas. 

2 – Check Your Credit Score

Check your credit score to see what you qualify for. 

Although your credit score isn’t the only thing card issuers look at when determining approval, they do use it as a minimum requirement

This makes it a quick way to tell if you should even consider applying for a card or not. 

3 – Shop Around for Card Offers and Pre-Approval

Man holding several cards after learning how to get a credit card.
Be sure to shop around to find the best credit card offers for your lifestyle. 

Getting pre-approved can be exciting, but consider shopping around and comparing various factors such as:

  • Interest rates: Look for credit cards with a 0% ​​introductory APR. This will allow you to make big, interest-free purchases right away and pay them off over several months. 
  • Fees: Nobody wants a credit card that’s expensive to maintain. You may want to avoid cards with high annual fees. Unless the rewards pay for the annual fees and then some. Check out my other article explaining if credit cards with annual fees are worth it
  • Rewards: You typically get three types of credit card rewards; cash back, points, or miles. For instance, travel cards offer rewards in airline miles and discounted hotel rates. At the same time, cashback cards offer more money back for regular shopping like fast food or clothing stores. 

4 – Double Check The Terms 

Nobody likes surprises, especially when they involve fees and interest rates.

So before you complete your credit card application, make sure you understand these terms:

  • APR (Annual Percentage Rate): The first thing to double-check is the APR on your credit card. Check that this rate is the lowest offer you’ve received.
  • Balance transfer: A balance transfer is when you move debt from one account to another. So if you’re planning on transferring balances, understand your credit card company’s policy around this. Some charge high fees for this service. 
  • Penalties: Let’s say something unexpected pops up, and you cannot make the minimum payment. What late fee will your card issuer charge?
  • Cash back rewards rate: Your application should say how much cash back you receive per dollar spent, if any. This could also be in the form of miles or points.
  • Foreign transaction fees: Do you travel regularly? If so, find out what fee your credit card will charge if you make a purchase outside the U.S. 
  • Cash advances: If you want to withdraw cash against your credit limit, cash advances can help. But card issuers typically charge higher interest and fees for this service, so double-check any costs associated with cash advances.
  • Welcome bonus: Many credit cards have a welcome bonus. This is where they’ll give you additional cashback in the first few months of receiving your card if you complete certain account activities. 

5 – Apply and Wait for Approval

Once you’ve reviewed these terms and conditions and understand them well, it’s time to apply.

If you’re applying online, getting approved can take as little as 60 seconds. The card issuer then has 30 days to notify you of approval or denial. 

After you’re approved, your credit card company will ship the card to your doorstep, and you can start making purchases and building your credit!

Tip: If building credit is a priority to you, then signing up for autopay is helpful. It allows lenders to withdraw the minimum payment from your bank account, so you don’t have to worry! This reduces the chances of late payments.

Tips for Getting Approved for a Credit Card

Person sitting at laptop looking up how to get a credit card.
Getting a credit card can be tricky. It’s important to keep your credit utilization low to help increase your credit score. 

Part of getting a credit card is getting approved for a credit card. 

Here are some tips to improve your chances. 

Get Rid Of Outstanding Debt

Credit card companies look at your credit utilization before granting approval. 

If you carry high balances on multiple credit cards, lenders might think that you can’t handle more debt.

As a rule of thumb, you want your credit utilization ratio to stay under 30%. So, for example, if your credit limit is $10,000, your account balance shouldn’t be more than $3,000.

Settle Any Delinquencies

Accounts become delinquent when you have an overdue payment, usually for more than 30 days. 

It’s at this time when card issuers can report your account to one of the credit bureaus, negatively affecting your credit.

After 90 days, your card issuer can choose to close your account and send your outstanding debt to debt collectors.

It’s safe to say that lenders won’t look favorably upon this.

So if you have delinquent accounts, pay off these debts as soon as possible. Here’s a video to help explain why

Be Realistic When Applying For Cards

You also want to be realistic about which credit cards you can qualify for. 

With low credit, you probably won’t qualify for a platinum credit card since they are reserved for consumers with excellent credit. 

Instead, you could go for a secured credit card or something meant for rebuilding credit.

By being realistic, you increase your chances of approval. And as you make timely payments, your credit will go up. 

Then, you’ll be able to apply for credit cards with higher limits, lower interest rates, and better rewards.

Consider a Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards work like regular credit cards, as they allow you to build good credit. 

The main difference is that you pay a deposit to determine your spending limit. 

This deposit lowers the risk to the lender, which is why secured credit cards are often easier to qualify for.  

So if you’re struggling to get a credit card, go for a secured credit card, build a good credit history, and work your way up to unsecured lines of credit.

Become An Authorized User On Someone Else’s Account

If all else fails, become an authorized user on someone else’s account.

This allows you to access a credit card in your own name but by leveraging someone else’s good credit standing. It’s similar to cosigning a loan. 

Since the card is in your name, you’ll be able to build good credit.

Commonly Asked Questions About How to Get a Credit Card 

How to Get a Credit Card with No Credit?

It’s possible to get a credit card with no credit. In fact, it’s no different from getting a credit card with perfect credit. Yeah, the interest rates might not be the same, but you’ll still have to compare cards and read reviews to learn which is best for you. 

How Can Beginner Get Credit Card?

As a beginner, one of the best ways to get a credit card is to sign up for a secured credit card since it doesn’t require a credit history. You’ll pay a deposit that acts as collateral on your account. Make your payments on time and start building that credit!

How to Get a Credit Card with Bad Credit?

Although having bad credit limits your card options, there are credit cards available for consumers trying to rebuild their credit. This is perfect because you can use these cards to rebuild your credit, and after a while, you’ll bury your bad credit under good credit!

What Credit Card is Easiest to Get?

Secured credit cards are typically the easiest to get because they have easier to attain minimum requirements. Plus, you’ll deposit money onto your card, which acts as collateral. From here, you use it like a regular credit card and build a credit history.

How Much Money Do You Need For a Credit Card?

If you want to qualify for an unsecured credit card, you’ll need to meet the card issuer’s minimum income requirement. This figure varies from credit card to credit card and can typically be found in the terms of the application. 

How to Get a Credit Card For Free?

If you’re looking to get a credit card for free, you’ll be glad to know that several companies offer credit cards with no annual fees. Popular ones include Capital One and Discover It. You can apply on their websites and get pre-approved within minutes.

How to Get a Credit Card Without a Job?

A good way to get a credit card without a job is to become an authorized user on someone else’s account. This will allow you to build credit and eventually apply for a card on your own. 

How to Get a Credit Card Online? 

Most credit card companies will let you qualify online. The entire process, from start to finish, can take a few minutes, and you’ll typically receive your credit card in the mail within a few days.

How to Get a Credit Card at 18?

If you’re thinking about how to get a credit card at 18 years old, consider having a family member co-sign your credit card application. Student credit cards are also an option as they are geared toward consumers beginning their credit journey, so you won’t need a credit history. 

How to Get a Credit Card at 16? 

Unfortunately, you cannot own a credit card if you’re under 18. However, if you become an authorized user on a family member’s account, you can get your own credit card at 16. From here, you can learn good financial habits and start to build a credit history. 

How to Get a Credit Card to Build Credit?  

You can get a credit card by visiting the websites of multiple lenders, learning about their minimum requirements, and applying for a card that you can comfortably qualify for. Once approved, start making payments on time and begin building good credit.