What is a credit card eligibility checker?
Our credit card eligibility check shows which credit cards you’re most likely to be accepted for, based on your credit information and the provider’s lending criteria.
Why should I use a credit card eligibility checker?
If you’re thinking of getting a new credit card, our eligibility checker gives you an indication of whether you’ll be accepted before you go through the application process – and it won’t affect your credit score.
If you apply for a credit card, the provider will carry out a hard credit search that will be added to your credit history and can be seen by other lenders. Too many hard searches over a short period of time is likely to make it harder for you to borrow money in the future, as providers see this as a sign that you’re having financial problems.
Understanding your credit score
Your credit score is a three (sometimes four) digit figure used by lenders to decide whether you’re a high or low risk – in other words, whether you’ll be able to pay back what you borrow.
It’s important to understand how to build your credit score and what can affect it.
For example, if you apply for a lot of credit cards, it can suggest that you can’t manage your finances effectively. This has a negative impact on your credit report history.
If you have no credit history – for example, if you’ve never borrowed any money – this can also have a negative impact on your credit rating as lenders won’t be able to see how you manage credit. Lenders are looking for people who can manage credit well and have a good repayment history.
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.Find a credit card
What information do I need to use the eligibility checker?
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 incomes and expenditures.
With that information, we’ll be able to tell you whether you could be eligible for a credit card before you apply.
What are the minimum requirements for applying for a credit card?
- You must be 18 years or over, although some credit cards require you to be at least 21.
- You need to be a UK resident with full rights to live in the UK.
- You need to have at least three years of UK address history.
Other criteria could apply, depending on the credit card provider. For example, you may also need to have a regular annual income or be free from any:
- County Court Judgements (CCJs) – you could get a CCJ or high court judgment if someone takes court action against you and you don’t respond.
- Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) – a legally binding agreement between you and your creditors to pay back debts over a set period of time.
- Bankruptcies – you can apply for bankruptcy if you can’t pay your debts. Your assets can be used to pay back the money owed. Various restrictions will also apply, including the fact that you can’t borrow more than £500 without telling the lender you’re bankrupt. Read more in our guide to understanding bankruptcy.
Frequently asked questions
Who can use this service?
If you’re over 18 with a UK address, you can use our credit card checker service.
If you’ve been at that address for at least three years, you may be offered a wider choice of credit cards.
Will using the credit card check impact my credit score?
No, using the eligibility checker will not impact your credit score. It’s based on what’s known as a credit card soft search. This isn’t connected to an actual card application and 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 the card provider won’t.
If you actually apply for a credit card, then the provider will perform a hard credit search. Each hard search stays on your credit file for two years.
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 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.
If you don’t get a rating for any of the cards, then you may have entered your details incorrectly.
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.
Which types of credit cards are included in the eligibility check?
We carry out eligibility checks across a range of different credit cards. These include:
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 of time. May include a transfer fee.
0% on new purchase: Allow you to spread the cost of an expensive purchase over several months without paying interest (for a set period of time). You must still pay off the minimum amount each month.
0% on balance transfers and purchases: Offer zero interest on both balance transfers and purchases for a set period of time. A transfer fee may apply.
Reward cards: Earn cashback, points, air miles or similar rewards when you spend. Ideal if you pay off your balance in full each month, otherwise you may end up paying more in interest than you gain in rewards.
Credit-building cards: Also known as bad credit cards. When used responsibily, these cards can help improve a poor credit rating. May have higher interest rates than standard credit cards.
Travel credit cards: Designed to be used when you’re on holiday or travelling. They usually have a low or 0% fees when used abroad.
Money transfer credit cards: Allow you to transfer cash from your credit card directly into your current account. You then repay the balance over a set period of time, usually without paying interest. Transfer fees may apply.
Cashback credit cards: Enjoy a cashback reward when you use the card with particular retailers or service providers. Ideal if you pay off your balance in full each month, otherwise you’re likely to see the cashback reward cancelled out by interest charges. An annual fee may apply.
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.
How long are my credit card checker results valid for?
The results should remain valid until any changes are made to your credit file. Updates usually happen on a monthly basis, although this can vary.
Does a good credit score mean I’m guaranteed to be accepted?
Our credit card check is intended to give you a good indication of the cards that you’re likely to be accepted for, based on your credit information and the provider’s lending criteria.
The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be successful in your credit card application – and gain access to the most competitive interest rates and most generous credit limits. However, the final decision is always down to the individual card provider.
Does the checker include cards for bad credit?
Yes, our eligibility checker includes cards for bad credit, 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.
How can I improve my chances of being accepted?
If you’re worried about not being accepted for a credit card, our credit card check is a good place to start. We’ll be able to tell you if you’re likely to be eligible for a credit card, before you go through the hard credit checks involved with the actual application.
If the results of your eligibility check aren’t what you were hoping for, here are five things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted in the future:
- Check your credit score and report – When you apply for a credit card, your credit score is one of the most important considerations for potential providers, so make sure it’s accurate. You have a legal right to access your credit report for free from credit reference agencies (CRAs) like Experian, Equifax or 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, you’ll need to raise a dispute by contacting the CRA directly.
- Prove you’re financially responsible – Credit card providers need to be confident you’ll be able to repay the balance on your card each month. If you have a bad credit score, or a history of financial struggles, you’ll need to prove that you’ll be able to meet the minimum repayments consistently. Reducing any outstanding debt is a great place to start, but even simple things like setting up monthly direct debits can prove that you’re able to manage regular financial responsibilities.
- Reduce your debt – Outstanding debt can very quickly impact your credit score. It signals to potential credit card providers that you aren’t a suitable applicant. Reduce your debt and you’ll prove that you can be trusted to responsibly borrow money.
- Affordability improvements – Credit providers will assess your general affordability - a calculation based on your combined incomings and outgoings. Simply put, if you spend more than you earn, you’re more likely to be refused credit.
- Start with a credit builder card – A great option if you can’t get a standard credit card. Prove to your provider that you can consistently borrow and repay credit against your credit builder card and you’ll improve your credit score. This can then boost your eligibility for a standard credit card, which may give you access to higher credit limits and lower interest rates.
Why use Compare the Market?
Check which credit cards you're eligible for in less than a minute**
93.8%*** of users would recommend Compare the Market to friends or family
Our credit card eligibility checker is provided by Runpath Regulated Services Limited, authorised and regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority.
**On average it can take less than 1 minute to complete a credit card eligibility check through Compare the Market based on data in January 2021.
***For the period 1st September to 30th November 2020, 12,477 people responded to the recommend question. 11,706 responded with a score of 6 or above, therefore 93.8% are likely to recommend.
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.
From the Money team
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."