It is safe to apply for a credit card online as long as you do it through a reputable issuer’s secure website. Banks and credit unions use encryption to protect the personal information transmitted on online applications. And for added security, most will automatically log you out of the application browser if you’re inactive for a certain period of time.… read full answer
Given the threat of identity theft, online security is an understandable concern. It’s always smart to be careful with your data. But you shouldn’t let an excess of caution stop you from filling out an online application, as there’s very little risk involved.
Here’s why it’s safe to apply for a credit card online:
Applications go through the issuer’s secure site. You can find information about different credit cards on WalletHub, and when it’s time to apply, we’ll redirect you to the bank’s or credit union’s secure application page.
Banks use SSL encryption technology. A small padlock in the address bar and an address beginning with “https” both indicate that the site is encrypted. Encryption means that all the information you send is in code. SSL encryption technology generates a random decoding key that a credit card company’s computers use to decipher your application. Without the key, it’s extremely difficult to unscramble the information. WalletHub uses this same technology.
You know you’re making the right choice. Comparing credit card offers online is the easiest way to find the best card for your particular needs. You might miss out on a great deal if you simply respond to a mail offer or get whatever credit card your bank happens to offer. Plus, if you want to make sure a smaller issuer is legitimate, you can always search reviews on WalletHub or submit a question.
You can secure your own connection: For an extra layer of protection, you can set a router password, enable WAP2 encryption, and specify which devices are allowed to connect with your wireless network. Just open up your router settings by typing your IP address into a browser window and entering your username and password. You can find all that information in your router manual, or by calling your internet provider.
Your private info is probably out there anyway: There have been several major data breaches in recent years, including one involving Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus. And while it might be unsettling to realize that most people’s personal information is already exposed, it does mean that any would-be risk posed by applying online should not be a concern.
So it is safe to apply for a credit card online as long as you’re doing it on the issuer’s site. But you can also apply by calling the issuer’s customer service number, going to a branch, or returning a physical mail offer.
If you gave sensitive information to the wrong parties, make sure to change your email and online banking passwords right away. Contacting your credit card issuers and the three major credit bureaus is a wise idea as well. You can request replacement cards and even put a freeze on your credit reports to prevent new applications for credit under your name.
You should also file a report with the FTC about the incident. The sooner you alert the proper authorities about fraud, the easier it will be to contain the damage.
You can cancel a credit card application by contacting the credit card issuer’s customer service department. The sooner you contact them, the easier it will be to cancel the application. Applications usually are processed quickly once they’re submitted, especially if you’re an obvious candidate for either approval or rejection. Many credit cards will give you a near-instant decision in those cases. So if you applied online, you may have only a few minutes (or even less than a minute in some cases) to contact customer service. But you might have a window of about 7-10 business days in other cases, such as when you mail a paper credit card application. … read full answer
If you are unable to cancel a credit card application before it is processed, you will have to deal with the hard inquiry on your credit report. But depending on the issuer, it may still be possible for you to stop the account from being opened, so you don’t have to close it and damage your score further. There are a few more things you should know about the cancellation process, too.
Here’s how to cancel a credit card application:
Contact the credit card’s issuer as soon as possible. You need to stop the application from being processed to prevent a “hard inquiry” from being added to your credit report. That could temporarily hurt your credit score.
You may only have a few minutes (or even less) to cancel an online credit card application. If you mailed your application, you will have a wider window, thanks to the time it spends in transit.
If your application is approved before you can cancel it, you may still be able to avoid officially opening an account. But make sure to call customer service and ask because that's not always the case. With Chase and Discover, for example, the account is considered open once you’re approved. Quickly closing a newly opened account can hurt your credit score.
Consider waiting a few weeks or months before applying for another credit card. Multiple inquiries in a short period of time can make you seem risky in lenders’ eyes. If that’s not possible, try for a card with very high approval odds, such as a secured card or a card targeted to people who have lower credit scores than you do. You can also work on building credit without your own credit card, like becoming an authorized user on someone else’s card.
At the end of the day, it’s also worth mentioning that keeping a credit card you didn’t want could be good for your credit score. Even if you decide not to use the card, you’ll still have positive information reported to the bureaus each month. But if the card comes with an expensive annual fee, it’s better to close your account than lose money every year. Many issuers charge an annual fee when you open an account and then every 12 months on your account anniversary. Others won’t make you pay an annual fee if you cancel your account before the close of the billing cycle in which it’s charged.
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