Credit cards are a convenient way to pay for things, but not everyone can get one. You may have trouble getting approved for a credit card if you don’t meet the eligibility requirements. This guide discusses standard criteria lenders use to determine who gets approved and who doesn’t.
To be eligible for a credit card, you must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid Social Security number. You’ll also need proof of your identity in the form of an official government-issued photo ID and proof of your address.
The income source must be a regular source of income, not something like a one-time bonus or commission that you received for selling your car. The income source must also be verifiable, meaning you can prove it with documentation such as pay stubs or tax returns.
Finally, the income source must be legal. For example, if more than 50% of your income comes from illegal activities, you are ineligible for a credit card. Also, remember that while many people have multiple jobs and sources of income, they generally only list their primary job on their application form unless they’re planning to use their credit card primarily at work.
You need to be employed, and your employer needs to be willing to verify that employment. This is usually done through a letter from your boss or human resources department stating the current date, how long you’ve worked there, and how much you’re paid each month.
If you’re self-employed or don’t have an employer who can verify your income with a letter, then your bank will probably ask for tax records or other documents instead.
According to SoFi, the average credit card limit by income depends upon “Due to how credit cards work, card issuers are taking a risk when they extend credit to cardholders. If they think the applicant is a riskier customer, they may offer them a lower credit limit. A high income can indicate that you are able to repay what you borrow. Therefore, a high income can help you get a higher credit limit.”
Good to excellent credit history
If you want to apply for a credit card, your best bet is to have a good to excellent credit history. Credit history is a record of how you’ve used credit cards in the past, and it helps lenders decide whether or not you’ll be able to repay them.
To get an idea of how well you’ve been managing your finances, visit annualcreditreport.com and request a free copy of your report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Your reports will show information like whether or not you pay bills on time, how much debt you carry overall, and what types of accounts are listed on the report. You can use these reports to see where there may be room for improvement.
Valid identity proof
You’ll need to provide a government-issued photo ID as part of the application process. If you’re applying for a credit card online, your form should ask for your driver’s license number or passport number instead. Public records like birth certificates don’t count as valid proof of identity unless they have an image of the person it was issued to and their signatures.
The above requirements are for getting a credit card. However, there are other conditions, like income and credit score, which you should consider before applying for a credit card.