What is a credit card eligibility checker and why should I use one?
A credit card eligibility check shows you which credit cards you’re most likely to be accepted for, based on your credit information and the provider’s lending criteria.
Checking your eligibility for a credit card before you apply involves a soft search on your credit history. It can’t be seen by other lenders and won’t affect your credit score.
Once you apply for a credit card, the provider will carry out a hard credit search. This will be added to your credit history and can be seen by other lenders.
Too many hard searches over a short period of time may make it harder for you to borrow money in the future. That’s because providers see this as a sign that you’re having financial problems.
Why use Compare the Market?
Check which credit cards you’re eligible for in less than 3 minutes
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Compare the Market Limited acts as a credit broker, not a lender. To apply you must be a UK resident and aged 18 or over. Credit is subject to status and eligibility.
How does the credit card eligibility checker work?
Our credit card checker finds your credit file and matches it against the lending criteria of a panel of credit card providers. To access your credit file, we need some personal details, including your date of birth and UK address history.
Credit card providers also want assurance that you can afford the card before they approve you. We’ll use the information you give us about your employment status, income and expenses to check if you fit their affordability requirements.Find a credit card
What information do I need to use the eligibility checker?
To use our credit card checker service, you’ll need to be over 18 with three years of UK address history.
When you use our credit card checker, we’ll ask for your:
- Personal details
- Date of birth
- Address and when you moved there
- Financial dependents, if you have any
- Employment status and annual salary, plus any other income and expenditure.
With that information, we’ll be able to tell you whether you could be eligible for a credit card before you apply.
Which types of credit cards are included in the eligibility check?
We carry out eligibility checks across a range of different credit cards, including:
- 0% balance transfers: allow you to move debt from existing credit cards onto a new card without having to pay interest for a set period.
- 0% on new purchase: allow you to spread the cost of an expensive purchase over several months without paying interest for a set period.
- 0% on balance transfers and purchases: offer zero interest on both balance transfers and purchases for a set period.
- Reward cards: earn cashback, points, air miles or similar rewards when you spend.
- Credit-building cards: also known as bad credit cards. When used responsibly, these cards can help improve a poor credit rating.
- Travel credit cards: designed to be used when you’re on holiday or travelling.
- Money transfer credit cards: allow you to transfer cash from your credit card directly into your current account.
- Cashback credit cards: enjoy a cashback reward when you use the card with specified retailers or service providers.
Whichever credit card you’re considering, make sure you read the full terms and conditions before applying. Fees, interest rates and minimum repayments will vary depending on the provider.
What are the minimum requirements for applying for a credit card?
To apply for a credit card, you must be:
- 18 or over, although some credit cards require you to be at least 21
- A UK resident with full rights to live in the UK.
Other criteria could apply, depending on the credit card provider. For example, you’ll probably need to have a regular annual income above a certain amount.
What credit score do I need for a credit card?
There’s no one credit score threshold you need to cross to be approved for a credit card. It depends on the credit card provider’s own eligibility criteria and other assessments of your financial stability.
Lenders use your credit score to decide whether you’re a high or low risk – in other words, whether you’ll be able to pay back what you borrow.
In general, the higher your credit score, the greater the chance of you being accepted for a credit card. That’s because a high credit score shows the lender that you’ve handled debt responsibly in the past.
Your credit score also plays a key role in what interest rates you’ll be offered by a card provider. So it’s important to understand how to build your credit score and what can affect it.
Will using the credit card eligibility check impact my credit score?
No, using the eligibility checker will not impact your credit score. It’s based on a credit card soft search and isn’t connected to a card application. You can use the eligibility checker as many times as you like, without affecting your credit score.
You’ll be able to see the eligibility check on your credit history, but card providers won’t.
How can I improve my eligibility for a credit card?
If the results of your eligibility check aren’t what you were hoping for, here’s how to improve your chances of being accepted in the future:
Check your credit score and report
You have a legal right to access your credit report for free from credit reference agencies (CRAs) like Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Correcting any mistakes may improve your score and your chances of being accepted for a credit card. If you think there’s an error on your report, you’ll need to raise a dispute by contacting the CRA directly.
Prove you’re financially responsible
Even simple actions, like setting up monthly direct debits and paying bills on time, can prove you’re able to manage your financial responsibilities.
Reduce your debt
Outstanding debt can signal to potential credit card providers that you’re not a suitable applicant. Reduce your debt and you’ll prove you can be trusted to borrow money responsibly.
Credit providers will assess your general affordability, based on your incomings and outgoings. Improve this and you’re more likely to be accepted for a card.
Start with a credit builder card
This could be a good option if you can’t get a standard credit card or you’ve never had credit before. Show your provider that you can consistently borrow and repay credit against your credit builder card, and you can improve your credit score.
What our expert says...
"It’s a good idea to check your credit report every now and then, in case there are any errors or missed payments that you’ve overlooked. You can check your credit report as often as you like. It won’t impact your credit score."
- Alex Hasty, Insurance and finance expert
Frequently asked questions
Why do you need my personal details?
The personal information you give us will be used to access your credit file, which we need to check your credit card eligibility.
How are the credit card eligibility checker results shown?
Once you’ve completed the credit card check, your results will be shown using a scale of 0-100%. The higher the score, the more likely you are to be accepted for that particular credit card.
The score is based on the assumption that the details you’ve given are correct. They may be subject to fraud checks by the provider.
Your results will also show you any cards you’re not eligible for. If you apply for them, you’re likely to be turned down.
And remember – although our credit card checker gives you an indication of whether your application is likely to be accepted – it’s the provider who makes the final decision.
How long are my credit card checker results valid for?
You should assume that your results are valid only at the time of your search, as credit card providers can adjust their eligibility criteria whenever they like.
Does a good credit score mean I’m guaranteed to be accepted?
The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be successful in your credit card application. However, the final decision is always down to the individual card provider.
Does the eligibility credit card checker include cards for bad credit?
Yes, our eligibility checker includes credit cards for fair credit, good credit and bad credit. Cards for bad credit are also known as credit-building credit cards.
These cards can help improve your credit rating – as can all credit cards – provided you use them responsibly and keep up with the monthly repayments.