Finding the right credit card takes some upfront work and planning, and that’s especially true if you’re looking for a card that lets you earn rewards. You’ll need to start by figuring out the type of rewards you want to earn, whether you’re after flexible rewards points, travel rewards or cash back. You’ll also have to compare all the top credit card offers out there, including their sign-up bonuses, then figure out which ones you may be able to qualify for.

Fortunately, a tool exists that can help you do all the research you need in one place. This tool, known as CardMatch, can also show you the best sign-up bonus offers that may not even be available to the general public.

If you’re in the market for a new rewards credit card, consider using the CardMatch tool to find the right fit. This guide explains the steps you’ll need to take to use CardMatch to your advantage.

What is CardMatch?

CardMatch is a service from Bankrate that “matches” users with personalized credit card offers based on the information they provide. While these offers don’t guarantee your approval, the tool helps you gauge which cards you may be eligible for based on your credit profile.

Since CardMatch connects users with offers based on their personal details, consumers often see dramatically different offers from one another (sometimes even different offers on the same card). However, it’s common for people to see top rewards cards and balance transfer credit cards from issuers like Chase, American Express and Citi.

Why should you use CardMatch?

The best part about the CardMatch tool is the fact that you may see targeted introductory bonuses and prescreened offers that aren’t available to everyone. This means you could earn more bonus points or qualify for a special promotion you won’t find online or anywhere else.

Since using the platform only requires a soft pull on your credit report, your credit score won’t be impacted, either. This means you can use CardMatch with no obligation, and you shouldn’t feel pressure to move forward with a credit card application unless you see an offer you can’t refuse.

How does the CardMatch process work?

The CardMatch process only takes a few minutes. All you have to do is head to the tool and provide some basic personal information. Since CardMatch isn’t the same as a credit card application, you only have to provide a minimal amount of personal details to get started.

Meanwhile, the CardMatch tool is working behind the scenes to match you with credit card offers based on your profile. Within a few seconds of entering your information in the tool, you’ll be shown credit card offers you may be eligible for.

How to use CardMatch

Bankrate’s CardMatch tool is easy to use regardless of how credit savvy you are. You can follow these steps to see which credit cards you’re prequalified for and whether you’re eligible for bonus offers that are higher than what the general public sees.

Step 1: Provide your name

Visit the Bankrate website and head to the CardMatch tool. The first piece of information they’ll ask for is your first and last name.

Step 2: Provide your ZIP code

Once you have provided your first and last name, the CardMatch tool will ask you to list the ZIP code where you reside.

Step 3: Share your home address

Bankrate also needs to have access to your home address, which they will use to confirm your identity and gauge your eligibility for preapproved credit card offers.

Step 4: List your email address

You can share any email address you want with the CardMatch tool, whether you prefer to list your main email address or one you use for new accounts and promotional materials.

Step 5: Create a password

Bankrate asks you to create a password for your account. This password must have at least eight characters, one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number and a special character.

Step 6: Share a phone number

Bankrate’s CardMatch tool also asks you to share your phone number.

Step 7: Share the last 4 digits of your Social Security number

Finally, Bankrate needs to know the last four digits of your Social Security number. This information helps them confirm your identity so they know they have the right person.

What you can expect from CardMatch

Once you follow the steps outlined above, you’ll see an array of credit card offers that are tailored to your credit profile. From here, you’ll get a combination of prequalified or preapproved offers.

Typically, you’re presented with prequalified offers when you submit basic information like income, monthly housing payment and your Social Security number for a soft pull on your credit. If you are prequalified for an offer based on this initial information, this just means that you may meet the issuer’s approval requirements based on this data. There’s still a chance that you could be declined for the offer after they’ve looked more into your credit profile, income and other debt obligations.

A preapproved offer, as those seen from American Express, means that there’s been more in-depth pre-screening done on the issuer’s side. This process costs more for issuers because they collect more data points to find cardholders most likely to meet their approval requirements. Consequently, card offers that come from this pre-screening process, which uses preapproval language, require a firm offer of credit because of provisions in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Your prequalified or preapproved offers could include some of the top rewards credit cards, cash back credit cards, balance transfer cards and more. You may even be shown debit card offers you’re eligible for.

In some cases, you could even see unusually high bonus offers on select rewards and travel credit card offers. If this is the case, you’ll need to apply for the card using the CardMatch tool to be eligible.

CardMatch Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is CardMatch safe?

CardMatch is completely safe to use. This tool uses bank-level security to protect your information.

Does CardMatch affect your credit score?

The CardMatch tool only places a “soft pull” on your credit report, which is different from a hard inquiry. As a result, using the CardMatch tool won’t affect your credit at all.

The bottom line

If you want to see the best credit card offers out there, Bankrate’s CardMatch tool can save you time and hassle. All you have to do is enter some basic information to see prescreened offers that may be better than what you can find online. Since these offers are matched to your credit profile, they are generally much easier to get qualified for.

You can use the CardMatch tool with no obligation and no pressure to apply, and since it’s free, there’s no reason not to use it.