How to Apply For Credit Card Offers

When you sift through your pile of mail, you may find that one of your credit card companies has a tempting offer. These offers come in the form of hefty sign-up bonuses and perks that can include cash, statement credits, frequent flyer miles, hotel points and merchandise.

Depending on your needs, these offers can save you money both in the short term and long term.

Sign-up bonuses

Many credit card issuers offer sign-up bonuses to entice new applicants. These bonuses are often in the form of cash back, points or miles, and statement credits. These bonuses typically require you to spend a certain amount on the card within a specific time frame, such as three months. Some spending may not count toward the bonus, such as balance transfers, cash advances and purchases made with cash equivalents (like gift cards).

The best credit card offers are those that align with your regular spending habits and allow you to earn a generous bonus without going over your budget. Some of these bonuses are enticing enough to drive you into a shopping flurry, so be sure to stay on track with your budget and only apply for a credit card when it makes sense for you. You can also consider the card’s other perks and benefits before choosing it. These can include waived baggage fees, purchase protection for eligible items and priority boarding privileges.

0% intro APR

Credit card issuers often use 0% intro APR offers to attract new customers. These offers provide cardholders with a period of time where they can make purchases or transfer debt without paying interest. They can also come with additional perks, like rewards or a low regular interest rate. In order to qualify for these introductory rates, cardholders must have good to excellent credit. This includes a FICO score in the 670 to 739 range. Card issuers also consider your income, debt load and other factors when determining your credit limit.

0% intro APR offers on purchases typically last between six and 21 months. Cardholders can receive this promotion upon opening a new account or as a card upgrade for existing accounts in good standing. Once the introductory period ends, cardmembers must begin paying a variable APR based on their creditworthiness, which is determined by two major factors: payment history and credit utilization. Make sure to pay your balance in full before the promotional period ends to avoid paying interest.

Balance transfer offers

Many credit card issuers offer balance transfer cards that allow you to consolidate debt onto a single card with a lower interest rate. These cards typically have a promotional interest rate that lasts for a defined period of time. They also may have a transaction fee or an annual card membership fee. However, these fees can be offset by the amount you save on interest.

Compared to the rates on other credit cards, a balance transfer card offers a lower rate and may help you pay off your debt faster. But you should consider the length of the 0% introductory rate, as well as any fees involved in transferring your debt to the new card. You should also make sure you can pay off your debt by the end of the introductory term. Otherwise, you will need to switch to a regular card with higher rates. WalletHub recommends looking for a balance transfer card with no balance transfer fees.

Pre-approved offers

If you receive offers by mail or in your email that include “preapproved” or “prequalified” language, this may be a sign that you’re close to meeting a lender’s credit criteria. These card offers don’t necessarily guarantee approval, though, and they can often come with less competitive introductory APRs than those advertised on the lender’s website.

Pre-approved offers are based on a credit issuer’s prescreening of consumers and typically don’t cause an impact on your credit score. However, if you do choose to apply, the credit issuer may then conduct a hard inquiry and this can ding your credit report.

Card issuers obtain lists of consumers who meet their initial credit criteria by purchasing information from the main consumer credit bureaus. Then, they send these consumers pre-approved offers, which don’t require a credit pull. Still, the timing and quality of a card offer may be enough to prompt you to fill out a formal application. If you do, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.