13
Jul

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A recent Gallup survey shows that Americans, on average, own 2.6 credit cards. But the same survey shows 29% of Americans have no credit card (up from 22% in 2008), and 7% were actually turned down for a credit card.

To keep from getting rejected on your next credit card application, or to at least keep the interest rate down to a reasonable level, financial consumers need to avoid making some all-too common mistakes on their credit card applications.

Let’s take a closer look at seven of those mistakes, and how to correct them so you’ll get a big “thumbs up” on your next credit card application:

Not using your current card company – If you already have a credit card company, and are looking for a better deal or a lower rate, your best move is to stick with your current card provider. Your job here is a simple, straightforward one – study card deals that your current company is offering to new customers and see if they will extend the offer to a loyal customer like you.

Not calculating the duration of new card rate deals – 0% and low-interest rate card deals can be a great deal, but those low rates don’t last forever, even though many card applicants seem to think those rates will remain frozen in time. Trust me, they’re not. The prescription again is actually a simple one – hold back on a low-rate credit card offer until you know, for sure, how long the deal is locked in place. These days, many card offers offer low introductory rates for a year, and then they go away. Regardless of the length of the rate, cardholders need to be mindful of the term and especially aware of the interest rate once that term ends. Most likely the new rate will be upward of 15%, so you need to know this going into the deal.

Not checking the fee structure – Fees can add up with new credit cards, especially if you’re not well versed on what those fees are, and how and when they’re triggered. Your best move is to have a complete understanding of all potential fees and charges before applying for a credit card. That helps you bypass future fees and get the most out of your credit card once your approved.

Bad credit? Apply for a secured card – U.S. consumers with toxic credit can get back in the game with a secured credit card, but way too many go for an unsecured card, and suffer the indignity of an application rejection. With a secured credit card, you make a deposit into a bank account and that ‘secures’ the card for you. The card issuer gives you a credit card and you use the card just like a regular credit card. Plus, it doesn’t say ‘secured’ on the card, so there’s no stigma attached to it. A tip: make sure you get a secured card that actually reports card payments to credit agencies.

Don’t apply for too many cards. Don’t go into “panic mode” when you mount your new credit card campaign. Often, card applicants are convinced they need multiple credit cards to prove to card providers they’re a good risk. Unfortunately, that tactic often backfires because they don’t have good enough credit to get approved for the cards they’re applying for in the first place. In this instance, aim for one card and keep it simple. Also, know that every time you apply for a credit card, the process dings your credit score by between two and five points.

Fibbing on your application – You have to play it straight and true on your credit card application, but many people don’t. That’s a problem, as card companies rightfully tie in your good word to your ability to make future payments. So, if you’re stretching the truth about income and employment, among other card application requirements, you’re courting a rejection at best, and an accusation of fraud, at worst.

Not checking the fine print – Card companies often try to stash away key information on your card, like reward program limits and interest payment changes, deep in the fine print. The U.S. government has been more vigilant about making card companies become more transparent, but it’s a slow process. It’s really up to you to study the card application and agreement thoroughly, before you sign off on anything. Make a list and include key items like interest rates, annual fees and various rewards programs, and find out all you can about them – it could save you big headaches down the road.

A “bonus” mistake – not checking your credit report before you apply for a new credit card. Not knowing your credit score before you apply for anything (but especially for credit cards) is like not studying for that big math exam in college, or not preparing for a job interview. There, you just don’t know what you don’t know. But if you know your credit score, you know where you stand, and what leverage you have.

Make your credit card application a positive one by adhering to the common sense rules listed above. They’re your best shot at getting the card you want, and on the terms you want, too.


Posted in Credit