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How to Get Approved for a Credit Card

Learn more about how to get approved for a credit card and when is a good time to apply for a credit card.

Continental Finance Guide to Understand Your Credit Score, Debt and Income

This guide will help you apply for an unsecured credit card that fits your profile.

The Key Topics of this guide:

  • Applying for credit cards with bad credit
  • Applying for credit cards with no credit
  • Credit card approval odds
  • Best credit cards of 2022

Continental Finance, the marketer and servicer of Surge Mastercard, strives to help searchers make sound financial decisions about their credit options and their credit history. To that end, this article is part of a series of guides that will help people on their journey to establish and build good credit.   

Let’s start with the most basic: How to apply for and get approved for a credit card.

Applying for a credit card is easy. Most times all you need do is fill out an online form and click the “apply now” button. 

But getting approved for a credit card? That can be a whole lot trickier for some people.

what is a good credit score

1. First, Know What a Good Credit Score is

A credit score is one of the single most important factors considered by companies market credit cards when they decide to approve a person’s application. There are a wide variety of credit scores and two of the most popular are FICO Score and VantageScore

When making a decision on an application, credit card marketers can use different scores or analyze the score or scores differently. But credit scores on average are classified by credit card marketers in tiers like this:

300-629Poor Credit
630-689Average Credit
690-719Good Credit
720 and upExcellent Credit

These tiers get used by card companies in their decision process. Different cards, with different features typically have a minimum credit score to qualify for the card.

Note: Rewards-based credit cards are extremely popular. People love earning rewards from their card usage. 

And most rewards credit cards require good or excellent credit. If you have struggled to maintain a good credit history, or you are just beginning to build your credit history, you might want to delay applying for those kinds of cards until your credit improves. 

Or, instead of rewards cards, you could consider secured cards or cards designed for people with bad credit.

know your own credit scores

2. Next, Know Your Credit Scores

The two most prominent scoring models used by the major credit bureaus are FICO score and VantageScore 3.0. Getting your individual score from these two sources is often very easy.

First, FICO Score

You can pay to get your FICO score from MyFICO.com, but if you already have a credit card account, you may also already have access to free FICO scores on your monthly statement or online account. 

And Discover, an issuer of credit cards, offers a free FICO score to everybody, even if you’re not a customer.

Next, VantageScore

Some personal finance websites, including Credit Karma, offer a free credit score from VantageScore. Vantage scores and FICO scores track similarly because both weigh many of the exact same factors in their calculation. Also, they tend to use the same data from the credit bureaus.

Improve your credit

3. Now, Improve Your Credit

Your credit scores will rise if you:

  • Make monthly payments on time.
  • Keep balances low on existing credit cards.
  • Avoid new debt.

You’ll notice these tips focus on debt and debt management. Approximately 30% of your credit score is determined by how much you owe. 

High credit card balances can be especially damaging.

A key factor in building good credit is your credit utilization ratio — which is your balance divided by your credit limit. To improve your credit score and boost your credit profile in the eyes of credit card marketers your credit utilization ratio should be below 30% on each credit card you have. 

That means if you have a card with a credit limit of $500, it’s recommended to keep the balance below $150.

To lower your credit utilization, create a plan to pay down an existing balance as quickly as possible. Also, consider paying off purchases more than once a month and paying more than the minimum. Taking actions like those will keep your balance lower throughout the month and send a positive signal that impacts your credit score.

One tactic to be careful of when trying to improve your credit utilization ratio is balance transfers. Make sure you only initiate a balance transfer to a different card when you know it is going to help you manage the payments. It’s better to deal with higher utilization rate than to create a situation where you can’t meet your regular monthly payments.

Pro-Tip: A Credit Rent Boost Could Improve Your Credit Score

Another tip to improve your credit is to provide the credit bureaus examples of your ability to make payments for other bills. Free Rent Reporting can provide a near instant boost to your credit score. This service could take your application from a rejection to an approval with just a few easy steps. 

how to get approved for a credit card

4. Don’t Jump at the First Offer you get

People with no credit are brand new to the game. And people with less than perfect credit may not have fully experienced what happens with credit card offers yet. But one thing to remember is you will see a lot of offers.

That means you can be picky and do not need to jump at the first offer you get.

Each credit card application you fill out will require a check of your credit history. And that means each rejection you get can temporarily ding your credit report. So be wary of the offers you get and do not jump at the first offer you are sent.

Take a moment to read the terms and conditions carefully. If you have less than perfect credit you may not be approved for offers that promise large sign-up bonuses or lucrative rewards.

Consider using an online tool or mobile app to see if you might pre-qualify for an offer. Pre-qualification will ensure you get a card, and avoid any negatives on your credit report just for showing interest in acquiring a card.

Checking takes only a moment, and it will not harm your credit score.

No luck pre-qualifying? 

Continental Finance is one of the leading marketers and servicers of credit cards for people with less-than-perfect credit. They market the Surge Mastercard and can help you get closer to reaching your goals through credit over time. This blog and other educational resources will help you learn how to qualify for a card and then use the card responsibly to help mend your credit.

when to apply for a credit card

5. Include all Income in Your Credit Application

Companies that review credit card applications consider your credit scores an indicator of your worthiness to be given a card. But scores don’t tell the whole story. 

Another important factor is your income. Credit card marketers use income to calculate your debt-to-income ratio. This helps determine your ability to make payments. And card marketers want to ensure they provide credit card offers to people they feel will be able to make the payments. 

To change your debt-to-income ratio you need to either increase your income or decrease your debt.

What that means is you can report other sources of income when applying for a credit card. If you earn money outside your full-time job, include that information on your application. 

You can include your household income, for example. Which means reporting income from your spouse or partner, on your credit card application.

Just remember to be careful. Resist the temptation to overstate your income. If a credit card marketer finds that you knowingly provided false information on your application, you could be charged and convicted of credit card fraud.

Also note that income is what credit card marketers consider, not employment status. So, being unemployed does not automatically disqualify you from applying for and being approved for a credit card.

Don't give up

6. Don’t Give up After a Rejection

If you think you’ve done everything right and your application is still denied, don’t give up on your quest to obtain good credit. 

First thing to do is reach out to the credit card marketer. The company can give you assistance and other options to help you get credit.

Remember to have a plan before you call. Keep these points in mind:

  • you have the right to ask the company why you were denied
  • you can also check your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com 
  • see if there are any blemishes on your history 
  • formulate a convincing argument for why you want the card
  • prepare reasons for why you are fiscally responsible
  • and most of all be polite

Customer service agents are more likely to respond positively if you have a pleasant demeanor.

Still no luck? 

If your credit history isn’t perfect, and you have had trouble getting approved for a credit card, remember you are not alone. Improving your credit scores takes time. So the final piece of advice in our guide is to be patient. Waiting between one to three months between credit card applications can increase your chances of getting approved.

when to apply for a credit card. The bottom line is approved.

The Bottom Line for Obtaining a Credit Line

Credit cards aren’t like debit cards. There is an amazing amount of potential to help your full financial profile through responsible and regular use of credit. 

But first you need to get a credit card. Fast and easy application for credit cards are everywhere. But that makes the application process very important.

Being denied for a credit card stings.

It can hurt you psychologically and it can also have a very real and negative impact on your credit score.

So remember it is very important to take stock of your credit profile and before you apply for your next card. Apply for credit with a responsible plan and take action.

  • You want to choose the best card. 
  • You want to be aware of the details like interest rates and any refundable security deposit requirements.
  • You want to provide the most accurate information possible.
  • You want to have your ducks in a row to make the best case possible.

Take your time, showcase a responsible payment history and be persistent. That’s the key to getting your credit card application approved.

People Also Read

Continental Finance is one of America’s leading marketers and servicers of credit cards for people with less-than-perfect credit. Learn more by visiting ContinentalFinance.net

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Should You Get a Second Credit Card?

Getting a second credit card can improve your credit score, diversify your credit pool, and act as a back up to your first credit card.

What are the advantages of having a second credit card?

This article will cover:

  • What the best second credit card is for you
  • Does getting a second credit card hurt credit score
  • Tips for choosing another card

You’ve finally started to rebuild your credit score. Things are going great. And then you see it in the mailbox: An offer for a brand new credit card!

You’ve been pre-approved or pre-selected to receive a whole new line of credit. But is that wise? Will it help? You immediately wonder, “Should I get another credit card?”

This educational resource starts by covering the basics of getting a second card. No matter your reason for considering another credit card, the benefits of doing so all come down to the same couple of pros:

  • According to creditcard.com, the most important reason is a second card, if managed properly, can improve your credit score and have a long term positive impact on your credit history.
  • The next most often cited reason is that another card can act as a backup to your primary card in case of an emergency.
  • And the third most common reason for getting a second card is it can diversify your credit pool.
How a second card improves your credit score

How a Second Card Improves Your Credit Score

There are potential benefits to having more cards. Having two or more cards is a strong signal to credit card marketers that you can manage your debt, personal finances and credit successfully.

Showing you can manage your finances and establishing a good payment history gives credit card servicers confidence and that may lead to favorable opportunities, such as credit limit increases.

Also, if you manage to pay down your balance on both cards, you will automatically improve your credit score by the next month it gets calculated. This improvement happens because you improve your credit utilization ratio.

How a second card helps in emergencies

How a Second Card Helps in Emergencies

This may seem obvious, but it’s still an important feature. If you have multiple cards, then you have an emergency option if something happens to your primary card. 

This really comes in handy when you travel. A lost card when you are on vacation can create a personal finance crisis. But having that other option can tide you over until your credit card servicer gets you a replacement plastic.

How a second card helps diversify your credit

How a Second Card Helps Diversify Your Credit

One benefit of a second credit card that should not be overlooked is the diversity it brings to your credit history. 

Most of the time people get caught up in the details. They’re looking at a card’s interest rate or its annual fee or its foreign transactions fees. 

But having a second card has the ability to provide diversity to your credit report. Having a variety of types of credit, including travel rewards cards, cash back rewards programs, and charge cards, shows a credit servicer that you can maintain good spending habits through a variety of different lending channels.

What are the pitfalls of a second credit card?

What are the Pitfalls of a Second Credit Card?

Now that you know how a second card can benefit you, take a moment before jumping at that credit card offer in your mailbox to consider the problems a second card can create.

The offers you receive in the mail, even with transparent advertiser disclosures, may not be telling you the whole story. There are some valid reasons you should avoid getting a second or third or even fourth credit card.

According to creditcards.com, those reasons include:

  • Another card can create problems paying your bills on time.
  • Another card can create more debt problems after you balance transfer card debt.
  • Another card can create obstacles when you are looking to make a major purchase like a car or home.
How another card creates problems with paying bills

How Another Card Creates Problems with Bills

Remember how above we spoke about how that second and third card can help with your credit utilization because it gives you more available credit? The opposite can also be true. 

Multiple credit cards can create problems for you because you have more available credit and if you use that credit up, you may sink further into debt. 

A lower credit limit means your ability to consistently pay off your credit balance is easier. Sometimes less really is more!

How another card creates problems with managing debt

How Another Card Creates Debt Problems

Some of these credit card offers you receive in the mail may contain very tempting terms, including a low introductory rate or 0 percent interest for a period of time. That’s when you start considering taking your debt on one card, and transferring the balance to this new card.

But as with the previous obstacle, if you can’t pay down that debt before that term’s period of time ends, you’re run the risk of being stuck with more debt than before.

How another card creates problems with big purchases

How Another Card Creates Purchase Problems

If you’re looking to make a big purchase, such as a new automobile or a new home, you should be wary of adding new credit cards to your finances. The bigger purchases will show up as new lines of credit on your credit report and will take up a very big chunk of your credit history moving forward.

It might work better for you if you wait a year before opening a new line of credit. That big purchase may no longer be seen as a new line of credit by that time.

What is the best second card to choose?

What is the Best Second Card to Choose?

You have a lot of options in front of you. It could be a Surge Card, or a FIT Mastercard, or a Discover It Card that you are trying to decide between.

First of all realize there’s no one single correct answer. According to U.S. News, you should choose your second credit card carefully. What you want to do is choose the card that is best for you and your personal finances. So what you can do is you take the offers, put them in a pile and start looking at what terms you are being offered.

Tips to Help You Choose a Second Card

  • Have a goal in mind. You want to know what your expectations are. Determine what you are looking to achieve by having a second card. That will help you define which offer is best.
  • Pay attention to the APR and annual fees. Fees are a big part of how credit card servicers make their money day in and day out. But if you pay attention to your terms and conditions there is a good chance you will be able to find a second card that has better fees and terms than your previous card.
  • Consider any rewards programs you were offered. If you have raised your credit score diligently over the period you had your first card, your second card could come with a variety of options including travel rewards and cash back bonus rewards. Even at 1% to 3% rates, a cash back bonus program can help you save each month on your bills including groceries, gas, and restaurant purchases.
  • Create a relationship with a new financial institution or lender. A second card can be obtained through a completely different bank or credit card servicer. And that can give you a chance to create a positive credit history with a brand new group.

In Conclusion

Getting multiple credit cards can help you build your credit and improve your score. But you need to make the decision very carefully and then use your second card wisely. Remember that you are managing your debt and your finances no matter how many pieces of plastic you have in your wallet. 

Stay diligent and be responsible with your bills and your purchases. 

If you stick to the path that you were when you started your credit building journey, then a second card will help you achieve even better results as your grow your credit score.

People Also Read

Continental Finance is one of America’s leading marketers and servicers of credit cards for people with less-than-perfect credit. Learn more by visiting ContinentalFinance.net

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