Whether you are applying for your first credit card or your tenth, these five simple tips will help you get the best offer possible (and maximise your chances of getting the application approved):
1. DO state your actual income: ‘Inflating’ your income to impress a credit card company and get approved for a card that would otherwise be out of your range is not advised, but neither is being ‘humble’ and reporting less than you actually make — too low an income will limit your choices. The card company wants to see that you have the ability to repay your debts on time. I had a friend a while ago who didn’t include his writing and graphic design income, which was considerable, in his card applications… and then he wondered why no bank would approve him! He was only including his hourly wage-slave earnings.
2. DO take your time: The offers that come to you in your mailbox aren’t always the best offers. Frequently, you have to seek out the best deal. It won’t find you. I’ve laughed at several of the mailed card offers I’ve received recently: “Really? No 0% intro APR? And an annual fee?” They went right in the trash bin. Use Outlaw’s card offers comparison portal to find the best deal in real-time, and compare it to other credit cards in the same category.
3. DON’T forget your lifestyle: What you plan to use the card for matters a lot. If you want a good cash back credit card for groceries and dining out, for example, you’d want to choose an offer with the highest possible cash back in those spending categories. But if you’re a frequent international traveller, rather than pinching pennies over your grocery store cash back, look in the fine print to see if the card has foreign transaction fees or not. If you travel overseas a lot and use a card while travelling, you definitely want to find a card that has no foreign transaction fees — otherwise you could wind up spending 3% (or more!) extra on every purchase you make. No reason to let that happen!
4. DON’T go wild about handing out ‘authorised user’ cards: Some people hand out duplicate cards, called authorised user cards, to their spouse, children, and even employees sometimes. While responsible use of the authorised user feature is a great way to consolidate lots of household spending onto one card (and earn the maximum cash back or rewards) — and it makes it easier to keep track of employee spending — you could find these cards sapping you of money. Does your part-time employee really need access to your credit line? They might buy more than they need to. Consider giving them a debit card linked to a small business checking account instead, or offering reimbursement for their work-related expenses.
5. DO ask for expedited shipping: After your card application has been approved, call into the support number and ask if you can get expedited shipping (for free) on the credit card — otherwise you could wind up waiting a week or longer for your new piece of plastic to arrive in the mail. Some issuers won’t do this, for security reasons, but it never hurts to ask — it also never hurts to ask if they can raise your credit limit without doing a “hard pull.” If they can, it’s usually a good idea to do so — I hate cards that start you off with a stingy credit line.
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