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Do I qualify for a credit card offer?

By , CardRatings contributor
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Question: Do I qualify for a credit card offer?

Answer: Although this is a broad question, I think I can give you a couple of guidelines to help you decide if you can qualify for a card offer.

The CARD Act of 2009 requires that you need to be at least twenty-one years of age to qualify for a card unless you can prove that you have enough income to pay off your debts. If you're under twenty-one and you lack sufficient income, there are other ways to get a credit card. You can ask your parents to co-sign on a card or to make you an authorized user on one of their cards.

If you're over twenty-one, you need an acceptable credit history. If you have a FICO score of at least 650, you can probably qualify for a card that's targeted at consumers with fair credit. Now, with fair credit, you'll end up with a card with a fairly high APR. But if you don't revolve a balance, it's an opportunity to diligently pay your bills and improve your FICO score so you'll qualify for better offers.

Even if you have bad credit, you still have credit card options. These cards are targeted to the subprime market, so the APRs are often way too high to consider unless you're certain you won't carry a balance. If you're in a situation where you've been through a rough time and your FICO score is below 650, you can also consider getting a secured credit card so that you can begin rebuiding your credit history and boosting your score.

Another situation that could prevent you from obtaining a credit card (at least one with decent terms) is if you have a recent bankruptcy or other negative information on your credit report. So it's a good idea to check your credit report as well as know your FICO score. Card issuers will look at both your credit report and your credit score when they make a decision about a credit card application.

If you feel you meet enough of these requirements to apply for a card, you can use our easy, 3-step process to determine which card is best suited to your needs and lifestyle.

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