How to get a credit card: Apply online
Written by Robert Bester, Consumer Finance Expert Robert has been a writer for six years, specialising in consumer finance and the UK lending market. Concentrating on consumer credit products, Robert writes informative articles that help customers manage their personal finances efficiently.
13th September 2021
3 minute read
If you’re thinking about getting a credit card in the UK, it might be worth taking a look through our step-by-step guide so you know what to expect during the application process.
As much as it might be tempting to apply online straight away, there are a few steps to take before diving in, including checking your eligibility. Take a look at our in-depth guide on how to get a credit card, and ways in which to apply online safely and securely.
Decide on the right type of credit card
There are various types of credit card with different terms that could mean you pay no interest on purchases for a limited time, earn rewards every time you spend, transfer existing debts and earn cashback, amongst other things. Types of credit card include:
When comparing credit cards, you would initially decide what type of credit card would be right for you before applying, based on which one matches your requirements.
Credit card eligibility
Comparing credit cards can seem daunting at first, though once you start to learn all of the different types, it will hopefully become clear what is the right option for you. The next step is to then compare similar credit cards and judge which provider is giving you the best deal. At this stage you will need to think about eligibility.
Eligibility is important as you could actually damage your credit score by getting rejected for a financial product. That means if you can get an indication on the likelihood of being accepted, then it may be worth looking into, to avoid a potential rejection. The good news is, checking your eligibility is completely free.
Our free eligibility tool is called MoneyMatcher, and will allow you to not only check the likelihood of being accepted but also narrow down your search.
Once you enter your personal details and indicate what type of card you are looking for, you will receive personalised results and give you a score out of ten, indicating how likely you are to be accepted for that product. You can give it a go for yourself here.
Find the right credit card for you
Once you have your list of results, you can then get to work on comparing the credit cards in front of you and making the most informed decision. There are several elements you may wish to consider when making this decision, which could include details around interest rates and introductory offers. However, the things to watch out for include:
- Provider – you may already have an idea of which provider you prefer over another, but this is worth considering if you find yourself with two very similar credit cards
- Interest Rate – you may be looking for a card with a low interest rate, as this will mean you pay less on top of the balance you accumulate. In the case of 0% interest credit cards, the interest rate is what the card will default to once the 0% period has finished
- Introductory offer – for cards such as Purchase and Balance Transfer, you may be presented with a time period (such as 20 months) that indicates how long this offer will last. Ideally you are looking for the longest period so you can take advantage of your credit card for longer
- Rewards – some credit cards also come with additional perks such as cashback, points, air miles or otherwise, which could sway your decision. Make sure the listed perks align with your own spending habits
- Representative example – the representative example is required to give you an indication of how much interest you would pay in one year, based on an example balance
- Chance of approval – if you have got your results through an eligibility checker such as MoneyMatcher, you will also have a chance of approval score that will show you the cards you are most likely to be accepted for
Apply online for a credit card
Once you have started comparing credit cards and checked your eligibility, the next step is to apply for your chosen credit card.
This will usually include being directed to the provider’s website to fill out more information before you undergo a credit check. This is a known as a hard search on your credit file (as opposed to a soft search when you check your eligibility) which can have an effect on your credit score. This stage will be different depending on which provider you choose, but you will usually receive a response fairly quickly as to whether you have been accepted or not.
Find out if you have been accepted
Lastly, you will get the result from your chosen provider on whether you have been accepted for a credit card or not. This does not usually take long and you can then make a decision on what to do next.
- Accepted – congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a new credit card. Remember to bring yourself up to speed with how you can use your card using the summary box and find out how long it will take to receive the card. You can also usually find an app on your smart device that will allow you to manage your new card effectively
- Rejected – you will usually have been rejected due to not meeting the specific criteria for that credit card, set by the provider. Unfortunately, a provider does not always need to provide a reason, so it’s worth double checking your personal details and your credit report to see if there’s anything that could have affected your application
Are you ready to apply online for a credit card? Start your comparison journey using MoneyMatcher here.