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Home Ask Student Aid FAQ How Do I Apply for a New Credit Card

How Do I Apply for a New Credit Card

First, check your credit report and credit score. Go to to get a free copy of your credit report (federal law requires the nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, TransUnion – to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months). When reviewing your credit report(s), you want to make sure you know what is included—although a credit report from each agency will be similar, there may be differences reported. You don’t want surprises (or errors) to get in the way of getting approved for a credit card. Know your buying power. But beware: you will not get your actual credit score without paying a fee. As an alternative, you can go to one of the credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian) to request a report directly from the source.

Next, decide the type of card you want to apply for. The better your credit score, the greater your options. Your main choices will be 1) a secured card, 2) an in-store card (think department store), 3) a traditional credit card with annual fees, or 4) a card without annual fees.

Then start shopping. Go online (or better yet, stay on this site and look at our partners) to see the types of credit card offers available. Read the descriptions to get a feel for the terms, fees, and annual percentage rate (APR), plus any introductory zero interest offers and other benefits. Apply by clicking on the credit card company you like and completing an online application.

Most companies also provide toll-free numbers where they can walk you through the qualifying process over the phone. Or, you can even submit an application via the mail.

After applying, the credit card company will let you know if you are approved and what your credit limit will be. The credit information they used to make their decision will be shared with you, either by email or sent in the mail.