If your credit history is not strong, applying for a credit card without a pre-application eligibility check can have a dire effect on your credit score. Not all credit cards offer eligibility checks, however, so it's important to be aware of which cards offer this feature.
The Importance of a Credit Card Eligibility Check
Being declined for a credit card can have a negative impact on your credit score. To avoid this, go through a pre-application eligibility check before you apply. Eligibility checks are "soft searches" so they won't leave a mark for other lenders to see or harm your credit score.
Here is a list of credit cards that currently offer an eligibility check. This is not a complete list of all credit cards in the market, but most credit cards now offer an eligibility check to potential applicants. Issuers are listed in alphabetical order.
Credit Card Issuers with Eligibility Checks
- American Express
- Asda Money
- Capital One
- Sainsbury's Bank
- Virgin Money
Credit Cards without Eligibility Checks
- Tesco Bank
How Credit Card Applications Work
To decide upon any new credit credit card application, lenders perform a hard search in order to learn about an applicant's credit history—for instance, how good they are at paying back borrowed money. This is a "hard search" that leaves a "mark" on your credit record, whether you are accepted or declined.
This information gathered from this hard search is used to determine if credit should be extended and, if so, at what interest rate. The credit history is also used to determine the credit limit.
Is a Hard Credit Search
If you've been accepted for your credit card, that hard mark may not be a detriment, as you probably won't be making more credit applications in the near future.
The problem arises when you are declined—assuming you still have a need for a credit card and will make another application. When you try again for another card, future lenders will see this recent search. They may assume you were declined by another issuer or that you are desperate for credit and need additional cards. Either way, the hard search from one credit card application can mean you're more likely to be rejected or, if you are accepted, pay a higher interest rate on subsequent applications.
An eligibility check is useful to avoid applying for a card for which you'll be turned down. Not only do eligibility checks give you an indication of your odds of success before you apply, but they don't leave a mark for other lenders to see. Do keep in mind that eligibility checks are not 100%—during the hard search a lender may find more information, or lack thereof, that leads them to change their decision.