How to apply for a credit card

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Who’d have thought that a rectangular piece of plastic could be so handy? And a credit card (used wisely) is very handy indeed. For starters, it can be safer than carrying around wads of cash because, if it gets lost or stolen, you can cancel and replace it. It’s also a way of giving you some breathing space until pay day, but remember you need to pay it off at the end of each month.  So if you’re not sure if you can make the repayments, then credit cards should be avoided. But if you can you may want to know how you can get your hands on one?

Before you apply

Firstly, work out why you need the card in the first place because this might influence the type of card that you go for. Balance transfer cards are useful if you want to offload an existing debt onto a new card with a lower interest rate. Alternatively, if you’re planning a few larger purchases and want to spread the cost, then a 0% interest on new purchases card might be for you. You might even be looking to get something back for the money you’re spending, in which case – opting for a credit card that rewards you for spending could be up your street.

Credit checks – know your history

If you’ve ever bought something on credit or taken out a loan then you’ll have a credit history. Any credit card application leaves a ‘footprint’ on this too. If you’re turned down, it could be viewed negatively when applying for credit in the future.

Ironically, if you’ve always paid for things upfront, you might have also a ‘poor’ credit score but that’s simply because you have no credit history for card companies and loan providers to go on. If that’s the case for you, then find out how to build your credit score.

There are three main credit reference agencies that all checks go through: Equifax, Callcredit and Experian. You can check your score for free at all three places so if you’re in any doubt about your credit worthiness; it’s worth a quick look before applying for any credit.

What APR% will I get?

Providers have to offer their advertised APR (annual percentage rate) to 51% of their successful applicants. However the information you provide on your application form and your credit check will influence what interest rate you get offered – so you might not get the advertised APR.  The APR is however a really good way to gauge how competitive a credit card is, as it takes into account interest and any other standard fees and charges. If it’s a little confusing, then find out more in our guide to APR

What should I do if I get declined? 

If your application is declined, then don’t start applying for loads of other cards, because lots of rejections leave ‘footprints’ on your credit report. Instead, get informed – and find out why you’ve been turned down and more about your credit score.

Golden rule of credit card spending

Rules can be boring but they’re there for a reason – and that’s to stop you getting into trouble. When it comes to using your credit card, there’s one golden rule: always pay off your card in full and on time every month, or the minimum payment at the very least. Letting one payment roll into the next will see you hit with late fees as well as interest, which can quickly spiral out of control. So, now that you know how to apply for one, why not see what’s on offer and use our comparison service for a credit card today. 

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