Dear opening credits,
I applied for credit cards – pre-approved – but was declined three times. I have no credit history because I used my husband’s card as an authorized user. Since I now want to apply for my own card and create my own credit score, the credit card companies refuse me, even though they are the ones who send the pre-approved quote forms to me to apply on my behalf. I am confused and frustrated and wanted to know how to apply for a card in my name. Thank you. — JT
Put those pre-approved letters down!
I understand that you would like a credit card of your own (and you’ll have one), but filling out and submitting random “pre-approved” applications probably isn’t the best method. In fact, it can even hurt your chances of getting the account that’s best for you.
You would think that when the words “approved beforehand” or “prequalified” are stamped on the envelope or enclosed letter that a credit card with your name on it is waiting for you to claim it. Not so. These offers are just promotional mailings.
Here’s how it works: after some market research, the bank discovers that you meet the general requirements for a particular type of credit account they offer. It is a sensible cost-saving technique for issuers. By limiting their potential customer base to those who might be eligible for the card, they avoid wasting money by sending letters to people who absolutely don’t fit their profile.
If you meet what it’s looking for, the lender will send you the “pre-approved” letter inviting you to apply. When you do, they analyze your financial circumstances and credit history in detail. Assuming you are really the cardholder they want you to be approved and the card is yours. However, if it turns out that you are not a good match, you will be refused and the investigation will continue credit report. Too many of these investigations in a short period of time will lower your credit score, potentially making you less attractive to other creditors.
So what you need to do now is make copies of your credit report. Why? As an authorized user of your husband’s account, you have a credit history and need to know what it looks like. The report gives detailed information about how you two borrowed. If you’re not the one paying the bills, you may not know how much debt your husband has from month to month, or whether he’s getting those payments on time.
You may find that he is doing a great job, there are no debts and a perfect payment pattern. If so, great. But if not, I recommend that you immediately take one of the following two actions:
Option No. 1: Work together for a better credit history. Using credit cards responsibly isn’t complicated, but it does require dedication. From now on, pay on time and do everything possible to pay the balance.
Option No. 2: Remove yourself from the account. You don’t need to get permission from your husband or reset the balance – just call and tell the publisher you don’t want to be an authorized user anymore. In this way you can immediately stop future problems.
Sounds like you’ve been doing some hot and heavy card shopping, so I’d like you to leave it alone for a month or two and let your rapport recover a bit. In the meantime, check out all the different credit account offers available. Review the terms and conditions and see if you meet their acceptance criteria. You may want to focus on: secured cards. Since they are guaranteed by a cash deposit, they are quite easy to get. Also check out CreditCards.com’s CardMatch program. Entering your information into the system will give you a list of credit cards that you are likely to qualify for — without having to unnecessarily request your file.
See related:Important things to know about credit reports and scores, How an Authorized User Can Hurt Your Credit Score