As handy and convenient as credit cards are, the same cannot be said of credit card application forms. Here is your guide to avoiding headaches when completing credit card applications.
There is something about filling in a form, especially one that involves numbers, that can drive the sanest man or woman crazy. While tax forms probably win top prize for frustration and the use of colorful language, credit card applications have been known to cause their share of headaches.
At the risk of offending those readers who make their living developing and selling headache medication, we would like to help reduce your headaches when filling in your next credit card application.
The first step is to be prepared. As with any complicated process – and seeking credit is complicated, no matter how simple one might try to make it – it pays to be prepared. There are three key steps to being prepared.
The first step is to know your self – specifically, your financial self. Before even trying to decide what type of credit card to apply for, you should get a-hold of copies of your credit reports. This is actually a very easy thing to do – probably the easiest part of all. There are three credit agencies in the United States, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. By law, they are all required to disclose your credit report to you.
Go to this page on the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports
The second step is to decide what type of credit card you want to apply for. What features do you want? Are you looking for a rewards card? If so, do you want cash back? Travel points? Some other type of reward? Are you more focused on a low interest rate? Or a balance transfer? Depending on what is in your credit report, you might find you need to focus on cards for people with poor credit.
There are plenty of articles on this website about the various types of credit cards. Here is some suggested reading:
Which are the best credit card for your profile?
A closer look as cash-back rewards cards.
The truth about 0% APR cards
The third step is to decide which offer you wish to apply for. You will see current available offers already organized into categories in the upper left side of this page, so that makes it easy to compare similar cards. Don’t jump at too-good-to-be-true offers and teasers you read about in magazines or in your mailbox. Take the time to compare the offers. Logically. Carefully.
Believe it or not, this preparation has already helped you avoid the biggest headaches and greatly increased the chances that you will be approved for the card of your choice.
The next step is to sit down with a cup of coffee or whatever makes you feel calm and relaxed. Yes, start out calm and in control and you will probably sleep better at night and save money on headache medication . Then start at the top of the application and just keep filling in.
Three more steps to go.
Besides the actually “filling” part, there are three other important things to do with credit cards applications:
1. Read the fine print. Each card is different and each one has different terms. It is important that you know how interest is calculated and when it kicks in. It is important to know if there are annual fees or late payment penalties. Make sure you understand what you are signing up for.
2. Stop. After filling in one form, do NOT fill in multiple forms. Two is not better than one, and five is certainly not better than three. Filling in multiple credit card applications in a short period of time often sends up a red flag in your credit report. This can reduce your chances of being approved by any credit card issuer. It can increase your actual APR (interest rate) if you are approved. And it can make getting other loans in the future (car loans, for example) more difficult (and possibly at a higher interest rate).
3. Be patient. Credit card approval is rarely immediate. While you are waiting, you will have time to drink plenty of coffee, read the fine print (if you did not read it earlier) and stay away from the temptation to fill in another application.