Before applying for a credit card, consumers have the option to see if they’re preapproved. A preapproved credit card means the card issuer is fairly confident the consumer can be approved for the offer that is presented.

This guide from Discover helps explain the preapproval process.

  1. Exploring what it means to be preapproved
  2. Understanding the benefits of preapproved credit cards
  3. Different credit inquiries and what they mean

Exploring what it means to be preapproved

How preapproval works

When you receive a preapproval for a credit card, you may think you’re approved without taking further action. However, this isn’t quite the case since you’ll still have to submit a formal application.

When you find out you are preapproved, it means the lender has run a soft inquiry credit check. According to Experian, a soft inquiry occurs when you check your own credit or when a lender or credit card company checks your credit to preapprove you for an offer. Soft inquiries do not impact your credit score.

The purpose of this credit check is to make sure you are qualified to receive credit.

Tips for applying for a new credit card

To reiterate, you must formally apply if you want to be considered for credit approval, even if you have already been preapproved. The reason being the lender has to confirm you are really you and that you still have a similar financial status as to when you were initially preapproved. In this sense, the sooner you apply for the preapproval offer, the more likely you are to be approved.

Online preapproval tools can make getting a credit card easier because when you provide the requested information, you’ll find out which cards may benefit you the most. Once you have your preapproval offer, applying for the credit card is easier because the lender is already familiar with your credit profile.

Understanding the benefits of preapproved credit cards

  • Fast Approval: Although you still have to go through the application process, being preapproved can help speed up the process – as long as you are still in good financial standing.
  • No Impact on Your Credit Score: When a lender conducts a soft credit inquiry, there is no impact on your credit score. Only when you formally apply a hard inquiry is placed – which will appear on your credit report and may impact the credit score.
  • Multiple Credit Card Options: With so many options available to consumers, it’s hard to know which offers fit your individual needs. Preapproved offers help you hone in on the cards that may best suit your needs and that you have a high probability of being approved for.

The fastest and easiest way to see which credit cards you are preapproved for is by checking online.

Different credit inquiries and what they mean

Now that we know a preapproval is a soft credit inquiry that won’t hurt your credit score, you might be wondering what it means when a hard inquiry is run on your credit history.

A hard inquiry is generated when you actually apply for a credit card. This may have an impact on your credit score and ultimately depends on your credit history and financial standing.

Remember, the credit check could remain on your credit report for up to 2 years, however FICO only considers inquiries posted in the last 12 months. This remains true even if your new credit request is rejected, so it’s important to apply for credit responsibly.

Hard inquiry vs. Soft inquiry

Preapproved credit card offers are a good place to start your credit card search and application. This way, you can find offers that are likely a better fit for you and your spending habits.

Check today to find out which credit cards you may be preapproved for!

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.