Pre-approved and pre-qualified credit card offers both indicate that a potential credit card applicant is likely to be approved. The terms are often used interchangeably, but their exact definitions are a bit different. A pre-approved credit card offer is when a credit card issuer proactively browses someone’s credit history and decides that he or she is likely meet the requirements for one of its cards. A pre-qualified credit card offer is when someone asks a credit card company to take a preliminary look at his or her credit history to gauge the likelihood of approval if an application is submitted.
Both pre-approved and pre-qualified credit card offers have no effect on your credit standing. They only use a harmless “soft pull.” But if you decide to apply after being pre-qualified or pre-approved, the issuer will do a “hard pull” of your credit, which will temporarily lower your score.
Pre-approved vs. pre-qualified credit cards:
Pre-Approved Credit Cards
Pre-Qualified Credit Cards
How to Get
Receive an offer in the mail
Top 12 issuers
9 of 12 top issuers
Pre-approved and pre-qualified offers generally provide an 80% - 90% chance of approval. On the other hand, if you get a “pre-selected” offer, it means you fit some general criteria established by the issuer and have around a 70% chance of approval. Lastly, an “invitation to apply” gets sent out based on demographics, not your credit. Such offers have lower acceptance rates because they’re sent to large groups of people and are not as targeted.
Being pre-qualified for a credit card means the issuer has done a soft pull of your credit history and concluded that you are a good fit. It also means you have an 80%+ chance of acceptance if you decide to apply for the card in question. It’s very similar to … read full answerpre-approval in those regards. The main difference is who makes the first move. If a credit card company sends you an offer, it’s probably pre-approval. But if you check yourself, on an issuer’s website or by visiting a branch, it’s pre-qualification. However, the distinction is small enough that people often use the terms interchangeably.
Some issuers let you check of pre-qualification online, while others only send offers in the mail. And if you don’t want to get offers, you can opt not to receive them at OptOutPrescreen.com But prequalification can be a big help in choosing which card to apply for, since it helps you limit applications to your most likely options.
Here’s what getting pre-qualified for a credit card means for you:
American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, and Discover all let you check for prequalification online. You’ll need to provide your full name and Social Security number. You may also have to provide your birthday and home address. You’ll then be shown which cards (if any) you prequalify for, along with an application link.
If you get a pre-approved offer in the mail, it will come with a code that you can use to respond to the offer on the credit card company’s website. But they’ll also send you a paper application that you can fill out and mail back if you prefer.
Whether you’re pre-approved or pre-qualified, you still need to apply, and you aren’t guaranteed acceptance. But you do have a very strong chance.
Getting pre-qualified for a credit card means you can apply knowing that you probably aren’t wasting a hard inquiry on a long shot. And if you sign up for WalletHub, you’ll get personalized credit analysis with card recommendations tailored to suit your circumstances as well.
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