Best pre-approved credit card offers for 2020

6 min read
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Applying for a new credit card can be stressful anyway, but that’s especially true when you’re unsure if you’ll get approved. Credit card issuers are tight-lipped when it comes to the factors they give the most weight to anyway, and newer card issuer rules on approvals mean it’s more common than ever to be disqualified for reasons beyond your control.

When you do decide to submit an application for a new credit card, however, you should know that each card issuer moves forward with a “hard pull” on your credit report. This hard pull, or “hard inquiry” helps card issuers gauge your creditworthiness, but it can also have an adverse effect on your credit score for a short span of time.

With this in mind, there’s one way to gauge your ability to get approved for a credit card without a hard inquiry and without having to fill out a full credit card application. When you take steps to get pre-qualified for a credit card, you can find out if you’re likely to be approved with only a “soft inquiry” that won’t harm your score.

What is pre-approval for a credit card?

Pre-approval for a credit card is a process that allows banks to check your credit history and general information without a hard inquiry on your credit report. If you meet their credit and income requirements, the card issuer may extend a preliminary approval based on this information.

Pre-approved vs. pre-qualified

When you begin looking for pre-approved credit card offers, you’ll probably notice some that say you can get “pre-qualified” instead. As you move through this process and begin your search for a pre-approved credit card offer you want to pursue, you should know that, in this case, pre-approved and pre-qualified mean the same thing.

How to check if you pre-qualify for a credit card

Some credit card issuers offer pages on their website that show very explicitly which of their products offer the option for pre-qualification online. Other card issuers aren’t nearly as upfront, which can be a challenge when you’re trying to compare credit cards with pre-qualification potential.

In addition to checking with individual card issuers for pre-qualification offers online, you may also receive targeted pre-approval offers in the mail. This is a nice gesture on the part of credit card issuers and banks, but since you don’t know when these offers are coming, you can’t really plan for them.

If you want to make sure you find out about all pre-approved offers you can qualify for, and if you don’t want to wait to see whether you are targeted for an offer via snail mail, there is one workaround to consider. With the CreditCards.com CardMatch tool, you can see if you qualify for personalized credit card offers from issuers like Capital One, Bank of America, American Express and Chase all in one place. This tool lets you get pre-qualified, so you won’t have a hard inquiry placed on your credit report for giving it a try. Even better, you can see which cards you are pre-qualified for, including ones matched to you based on your profile, within 60 seconds.

Best pre-approved credit cards

Pre-approved credit card offers can help you determine if you’re likely to get the credit card you want. Here are some of the most popular pre-qualified offers for 2020 from all the top credit card issuers.

American Express

Online pre-approval: Yes

Mail pre-approval: Yes

Best credit cards for pre-approval:

How to check if you pre-qualify: American Express offers a page on their website that lets you enter basic information to see if you can get pre-qualified for one of their credit cards. You may also receive pre-qualified credit card offers in the mail, and American Express credit cards are included in the CreditCards.com CardMatch tool.

Bank of America

Online pre-approval: Yes

Mail pre-approval: Yes

Best credit cards for pre-approval:

How to check if you pre-qualify: Bank of America offers pre-qualified credit card offers in the mail, but you can check for customized credit card offers using this page on their website. The CreditCards.com CardMatch tool can also help you compare pre-qualified offers from Bank of America to other issuers.

Capital One

Online pre-approval: Yes

Mail pre-approval: Yes

Best credit cards for pre-approval:

How to check if you pre-qualify: Capital One offers a page on their website where you can get pre-qualified for their credit card offers. You can also wait to see if you receive a pre-qualification offer via direct mail, or you can use the CreditCards.com CardMatch tool.

Chase

Online pre-approval: Yes

Mail pre-approval: Yes

Best credit cards for pre-approval:

How to check if you pre-qualify: Chase is proactive when it comes to sending consumers pre-qualified credit card offers in the mail. However, you can also check for pre-qualified offers using this page on their website, or via the CardMatch tool.

Citi

Online pre-approval: Yes

Mail pre-approval: Yes

Best credit cards for pre-approval:

How to check if you pre-qualify: Citi also has a page on their website dedicated to credit card pre-qualification. While you can check for pre-approved offers online, you can also use this page to respond to a credit card offer sent via direct mail. In addition, you can see if you’re matched with a customized offer for Citi credit cards using the CardMatch tool.

Discover

Online pre-approval: Yes

Mail pre-approval: Yes

Best credit cards for pre-approval:

How to check if you pre-qualify: Like other card issuers, Discover makes it easy to check for pre-qualified offers on their website. You can also wait for a pre-qualified offer to arrive in the mail, or use the CreditCards.com CardMatch tool to see if you are matched with a customized offer there.

Benefits of pre-qualified credit card offers

You may be wondering why you would bother checking if you’re pre-qualified for a credit card before you apply. There are several benefits for doing so:

  • No hard inquiry. You can gauge your chances of being approved for a credit card without a hard inquiry on your credit report. If you find you’re not pre-approved, you can save yourself the time spent applying and avoid potential damage to your credit score that could result from a hard inquiry.
  • Qualify for more rewards. Many times, consumers receive better rewards or credit card terms through pre-qualified offers than those available to the public.
  • Shop around and compare credit cards. You can compare offers in one place, either by using a specific card issuer’s pre-approval page or the CardMatch tool. Either way, you may find you’re eligible for credit cards you hadn’t thought of but that might work better for your needs.

Drawbacks of pre-qualified credit card offers

While the benefits we’ve listed above are good ones, it’s important to remember that pre-approved offers have drawbacks, too. The main drawbacks you should be aware of include:

  • Pre-qualification for a credit card doesn’t guarantee approval. Having a card issuer assert that you’re pre-qualified for one of their credit cards doesn’t mean you will be granted the card you want once they do a hard pull on your credit report and see your current credit, income, and debt details.
  • If you’re later denied for the card you were pre-qualified for, you’ll still have a hard inquiry on your credit report. You will have a new hard inquiry on your credit report as a result of your application regardless of what happens with your credit card application.

How to opt out of credit card pre-approvals

If you’re tired of receiving pre-qualified credit card approvals or you don’t need the temptation to get a new credit card account, you can officially opt out of these offers as well. Head to OptOutPrescreen.com, which is a joint venture among the three credit bureaus that aims to help consumers avoid getting offers they don’t want in the mail.

This website lets you electronically opt out of pre-screened offers for five years, or even permanently, and it’s free to use. If you don’t want to apply online, you can also opt out by calling the number (888) 567-8688.