Check credit card eligibility: What credit cards am I eligible for?

5 min Read Published: 01 Sep 2023

Check credit card eligibility: What credit cards am I eligible for?You can find out what credit cards you are eligible for by using a credit card eligibility checker. This is a way of checking to see whether you are likely to be accepted for the card you want without going through a full application. You don't need to risk a host of credit card rejections as you try to find a suitable option, instead, you can simply check the likelihood of being accepted and apply for a card that you can expect to successfully get. In this article, we explain how checking your eligibility for a credit card works, how it can help your borrowing prospects and what to do if you don’t get the results you want.

What is a credit card eligibility checker?

A credit card eligibility checker is a way of checking to see what credit cards you are likely to be eligible for. An online tool can show the different cards you are most likely to be accepted for, including some that you may be 'pre-approved' for, though this will still require a credit check.

You will have an idea of your chances of having a successful application without having to go through the process of fully applying for the credit card. The eligibility checker will run a 'soft' search on your credit file to get information on your financial situation without leaving a mark that will show up on future checks. You can therefore use an eligibility checker as often as you like without your credit score being affected, which wouldn’t be the case if you applied for a series of different credit cards instead.

Credit card eligibility checking tool

Find out your chances of being accepted using a credit card eligibility checker

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How does a credit card eligibility checker work?

When you check your credit card eligibility online, you will be prompted to enter certain personal details – such as your date of birth and address – as well as answer questions regarding your finances. The credit card eligibility checker then assesses your details alongside the lending benchmarks of a selection of providers and runs a soft check on your credit file.

You will then see a series of scores based on the data you have provided and the criteria from the credit card companies. The scores represent the likelihood that you will be accepted for that card, based on the eligibility requirements. In some cases, when you check credit card eligibility online you will see a perfect score for a particular card. This means that you have been pre-approved for that credit credit card and your application should be successful, subject to further credit and identity checks.

Why you should check credit card eligibility

Not everyone will be able to get the very best credit cards in the UK, as lenders have strict criteria over affordability and reliability. The credit card provider will want to be confident that you earn enough money to afford repayments and that you are reliable enough to make any repayments on time. This is assessed in part through a credit check during the application process, which will be recorded on your credit file. Therefore, if the credit check shows that you are not a reliable enough borrower or you do not have consistent income, your application will be rejected.

A rejected application for credit is important because too many in a short period of time may suggest that you are struggling financially, which will make it harder to access borrowing in the future. We explain the steps you can take to get out of this cycle in our article ‘5 things to do if you’re turned down for a credit card’.

To avoid this scenario altogether, you could check your credit card eligibility online. This will not affect your credit score as there is no ‘hard’ search on your credit file. If your eligibility check shows a wide selection of cards that you have a good chance of being approved for, you can pick the best one and start an application. If you do not get the range you had hoped for, or a particular card that you wanted shows a low probability of success, you can take steps to improve your credit score and check your credit card eligibility again in the future. Either way, you are avoiding making lots of applications in search of the right credit card.

Our article 'How to apply for a credit card' guides you through the steps you need to take to get the best credit card for you. You could also check out the latest credit card deals on our 'Best credit cards in the UK' article.

The difference between a hard and soft credit check

A soft credit check will show basic information about your finances, but not your full credit report. This is enough information for a credit card eligibility checker to calculate how likely you are to be accepted for a range of cards and help you avoid a rejected application. Because it is not a full credit check, it will not leave a mark on your credit file. This means that you can run as many eligibility checks as you like without leaving a footprint for future prospective lenders to see.

The hard credit check comes when you fill out a full application for a credit card. The credit card provider will want to know how trustworthy a borrower you are, so it will check your credit report to see what information a particular credit reference agency holds on you. This will leave a mark on your credit file and will show anyone checking it in the future that you have been applying for credit. Too many checks in a short period of time could suggest that you are struggling to manage your finances, so a lender may be less willing to approve you to borrow money.

Information needed to check credit card eligibility

Using an online credit card eligibility checker will involve inputting certain details about your life and finances. These can include your:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • address (and past address or addresses to cover the last three years)
  • employment status
  • income details
  • number of financial dependants

Keep in mind that you will need to be over the age of 18 and have a current UK address to apply for a credit card.

How do you know what your credit limit and interest rate will be?

The interest rate you see on the credit card eligibility checker will not be guaranteed, as your application will be subject to additional checks. Keep in mind that a representative APR is not confirmation of what your personal rate will be. Representative APR is the minimum rate offered to at least 51% of successful applicants, so you could be in the 49% who get a higher rate or even get a lower rate than the one that is advertised. We explain more in our article ‘What is representative APR?’.

Your credit limit is not confirmed until your full application has been approved and the credit card company has run a hard credit check. If you go through with an application but do not receive the full credit limit you had hoped for, you may be able to ask your provider for a higher limit once you have used the card for a period of time.

How to improve your chances of being accepted

Using a credit card eligibility calculator will not always give you the results that you had hoped for. The best credit cards are often only available to people with good credit scores, while users with bad credit scores may be faced with a limited number of potential cards, or possibly none at all.

You can change the results you get when you check credit card eligibility by improving your credit score and building a stronger credit history. Using a credit card eligibility calculator is a great place to start because it does not impact your credit score, though applying for a credit card will. Have a look at your credit score to see if that is where the problem lies. We cover how in our article ‘The best way to check your credit score for free’. Your next step should be to look at what quick fixes you can make to ensure the information held by the major credit reference agencies (CRAs) in the UK –  Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – is up to date. We explain what to do in our article ‘How to improve your credit score quickly’.

There is also the option of building your credit score using a credit card. Read our article 'How to build your credit score with a credit card' to learn more.