Even though they can be potentially dangerous debt-wise, credit cards can also be convenient and beneficial when you use them properly. When it’s time to take the plunge, follow careful steps in obtaining a credit card. With the right approach and a little preparation, you should sail through the approval process and get your hands on that little piece of plastic.
Fill out the credit card application – you might do this online through a secure application with a lender, or you could also do it over the phone with an account representative. If you have the time and opportunity, you can even walk into a financial institution (such as a bank that issues a credit card) and apply in person, too. Expect to provide your Social Security number, income verification (bank statements and income tax returns), employment information and other financial information such as bank account numbers.
Submit the application according to the method you’re using. If you’re applying for a credit card online, submission is as simple as clicking the correct button. If you’re applying over the telephone, you will provide all this information to the representative. If you’re applying in person, bring your verification documents along with you so you can provide them to the lender at the time you submit your application.
Wait during the approval process. Depending on the application process and your credit history, you may get an instant approval or you may need to wait for up to 10 business days while the financial institution reviews your application and checks your credit history. You may receive a mailed notice if an in-depth review is necessary.
Receive the credit decision from the financial institution. This may be an instantaneous message on the website if you applied online. You might also receive an email or a notification in the mail. If you received approval, you will also get information about the credit limit extended to you and the annual percentage rate you received. If you receive denial of credit, you will receive a message telling you that your credit card application was denied and an explanation of the denial.
Receive the credit card in the mail within about 10 business days of receiving approval. Accompanying the credit card, you will receive paperwork that outlines the terms of the credit card account.
Activate your new credit card by visiting the financial institution’s website or by calling the telephone number provided with the card. Sign the credit card in pen with your full, legal name.
- If you receive a credit card denial, you are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report from the three main credit-reporting bureaus. Visit the Annual Credit Report website (see Resources) to request your free report.
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