How to Find the Best Credit Cards Based on Your Credit Score

Credit Card Close-Up

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Part of rebuilding your credit is proving that you can pay your bills on time. If you had a bad credit situation (such as defaulting on your mortgage payment) and that left you without any credit cards, you'll have to open new ones so you can start improving your credit score.

Because your credit score is sensitive to credit report inquiries, you should avoid randomly applying for credit cards on the off chance that you'll get approved. Several credit inquiries, especially within a short period of time, will make it harder for you to get approved for a credit card. You need some kind of a plan.

For starters, if you can pinpoint the credit cards that are most likely to approve you, you’ll put in fewer credit card applications and increase your likelihood of getting approved.

Two Tools That Match Your Credit Score to the Best Credit Card Options

Financial Globe's Score Match gives you a list of credit cards based on your credit score. The site also indicates the approval rate of the credit card, giving you a better idea of whether your application will be approved.

In addition, you can always sign up for Credit Karma or Credit Sesame to get your credit score. Both of these are free credit scoring services that don’t require a credit card or a trial subscription to gain access to your credit score.

Check to See If You're Pre-Qualified Based on Your Credit Score

A few credit card issuers will let you enter your personal information so you can find out if you’ve been pre-qualified for a credit card. These issuers include such well-known banks as:

These credit card issuers do a soft pull on your credit report to figure out whether you qualify for any of their credit cards. If there are no matches, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll be denied if you choose to apply.

You Could Still Be Denied Based on Your Credit Score

Just because a credit card matches your credit score doesn’t guarantee you’ll be approved if you apply. Once you submit an application, the credit card issuer will do a much more thorough review of your credit history (and income) to decide if you meet the qualifications. If you are denied, you will receive a letter in the mail within a few days explaining the reason your application was turned down.

Other Options If You Get Denied

If there are no matches for you based on your credit score, you should consider getting a secured credit card. A secured credit card requires you to pay a deposit to secure your credit limit. After several months of responsible use, you may be able to convert your secured credit card to an unsecured credit card or your newfound credit status may be in a better position to help you qualify for another unsecured credit card.

Whether you have good credit or bad, it's always best to choose credit cards based on their features (such as interest rate, fees, and rewards) not on your need for credit.