Home > Credit Cards > Are the Best Credit Cards Too Hard to Get?

Comments 0 Comments

On a radio interview recently I was talking about some of the best credit cards from Credit.com’s Best Credit Cards in America series, including cards with great rewards programs, 0% balance transfers and loads of perks. The host agreed they sounded great, “But they’re only for people with perfect credit, right?” he asked.

It’s a common perception that you need an excellent credit score to get the best credit cards. Yes, card issuers love to give the best deals to those with the best credit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get one if you don’t fall into that category.

“I do not believe that the best credit cards are too hard to get,” says credit card expert and Credit.com contributor Jason Steele. “Many of the best cards in every category I examine for our Best Credit Cards in America series do require that applicants have high credit scores, but many offer a range of interest rates. This is an indication that applicants with less than perfect credit are being accepted.”

In other words, lenders have the ability to adjust for risk by offering a range of interest rates. The card you’ll get will depend on the information in your credit reports and on your application. 

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect

Not that long ago, an offer for an airline miles credit card with a big sign-up offer crossed my desk. (Normally this program offers 30,000 miles when you sign up. but every once in a while they up the ante to 50,000 miles.) I was concerned about applying because I was in the midst of a credit report dispute. But I went ahead, and guess what? I got the card. My credit wasn’t perfect (the dispute involved recent late payments that shouldn’t be there) but I still qualified.

While you don’t want to waste time, or create unnecessary credit inquiries, by applying for cards you can’t qualify for, don’t automatically assume you are out of the running just because you don’t have perfect credit. Card issuers know there are plenty of profitable customers among consumers with good but not exceptional credit. 

Still, it’s wise to do your homework first. Get your free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com and review your credit scores so you can get an idea of how strong (or not) your credit is. While your score is valuable information, even more important is to look at how you compare to other consumers. Are you in the excellent, good, fair or poor category? (You can get a free credit report summary every month on Credit.com to see where you stand.)

While issuers are reluctant to spell out the exact qualifications they require, you can check Credit.com’s credit card comparison tool or a similar search engine to see what kinds of customers lard issuers are looking for. Another strategy is to call your current card issuer and see if you can switch to a program that is a better fit for you. For example, perhaps you have an airline rewards card but you never use those points. You might be able to get a cash-back card to replace that one.

If at First You Don’t Succeed… 

If you are turned down for a card you really want, you don’t have to take no for an answer. Most card issuers are willing to reconsider your application. Perhaps they will want you to close another account to get this one. Or maybe they can start you off with a lower credit line. The answer may not always be “yes” but there’s no harm in asking them to take another look. You can find a list of credit card issuers’ reconsideration hotlines here.

Keep in mind throughout this process, issuers want customers. Give them a reason to say “yes” to your application. “Having a credit card is a privilege, not a right, and card issuers are acting in their interest by only issuing their top cards to consumers who have a record of paying their bills on time and avoiding excessive debt,” says Steele. “Those who follow these two rules will be nearly guaranteed to be approved for any card they apply for.”

More on Credit Cards:

Image: Digital Vision

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team