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What does it mean to be “pre-approved”?
Every day, people open their mailboxes to find special credit card offers featuring low interest rates, exciting reward programs and 0% intro APR balance transfers. If youâ€™ve received a pre-approved credit card offer in the mail, you may be wondering how you became pre-approved and if the card is right for you. Here are some things to consider before you apply.
How do I become pre-approved for a credit card?
When you receive a â€śpre-approvedâ€ť or â€śpre-screenedâ€ť credit card offer, it typically means the credit card issuer has checked your credit, you meet certain criteria, and will be approved for the credit card if you continue to meet the issuer’s credit standards and have sufficient income when you apply.
The major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union maintain extensive databases of consumer credit information that credit card companies use to market to new customers with certain credit scores. Credit bureaus take the minimum standards for each credit card issuer and compile a list of those consumers who fit the specific requirements. Credit card companies use those lists to design specific credit card offers to a well-qualified set of consumers.Â
The benefits of pre-approved credit card offers
Pre-approved credit card offers have several benefits. They allow you to see what is available and the terms of a pre-approved offer may be better than those available to the general public.Â A pre-approved credit card offer can be valuable when, for instance, you may have a chance to take advantage of 0% APR promo rate for 12-14 months or make a no-fee balance transfer to a card with a lower interest rate.Â
Interested? You still need to apply.
Itâ€™s important to keep in mind, pre-approved status is no guarantee you will receive the credit card. When you receive a pre-approved credit card offer, you still need to complete an application and your approval is based on your credit report. Ideally, you will receive the credit card and exact terms listed in the pre-approved offer. However, depending on your credit history, you may be approved for the card, but receive a shorter introductory period or a slightly higher interest rate. It is possible to be denied for a pre-approved offer.Â If you are denied for a credit card, the issuer is required to send you a copy of your credit score used in the decision.Â You may also be entitled to a free copy of your credit report.
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Always remember to read the terms and conditions carefully. Just because you were pre-approved for the credit card offer doesnâ€™t mean the card will be a good fit. Always make sure to choose a credit card that best fits your lifestyle and financial situation. Before you apply, shop around online and compare rates and introductory periods.