Are you in the process of comparing credit cards? Are you obsessed with the idea of securing the best offer? Do you understand what credit card issuers look at when reviewing your application?
Your FICO score plays a big role when applying for a credit card. For example, if you have an excellent score, you’ll qualify for almost every offer you come across.
Conversely, if you have a poor credit score, your options are a bit limited, thus forcing you to spend more time on your search.
It’s important to do two things before you begin your search for the best credit card:
- Review your FICO score
- Request a copy of your credit report.
Requesting a copy of your credit report is critical, as it gives you a clear idea of where you can make up ground with hope of boosting your score.
Generally speaking, there are five factors that determine your FICO score:
- Payment history: Making up 35 percent of your score, it’s important that you pay your bills on time, every time. A late payment – even one that’s only 30 days past due – will ding your score.
- Available credit: This is the amount of debt in relation to your credit limits. Generally speaking, the more available credit you have, the better it is for your credit score. Available credit accounts for 30 percent of your score, so don’t take this lightly.
- Age of credit: Often overlooked, the age of your credit makes up 15 percent of your FICO score. This is why it’s a good idea to leave credit card accounts open, as opposed to closing them. Unfortunately, there’s only one way to secure older credit accounts: wait for the years to pass.
- Recent applications for credit: It’s okay to apply for credit when necessary, but don’t go over board. Too many hard inquiries can drag down your score, often for as long as six months. For instance, if you’re applying for a car loan with multiple lenders, do so as close together as possible. This way you don’t get hit with multiple hard inquiries. Note: this accounts for 10 percent of your score.
- Type of credit: Also accounting for 10 percent, the type of credit you have will impact your FICO score. It’s ideal to have a mix of installment loans, such as a mortgage and car loan, and revolving credit, such as a credit card and home equity line of credit.
If you have an excellent FICO score, you’re in good position to forge ahead and secure a credit card with all the features you’re looking for.
However, if your FICO score could use some improving, focus on the steps you can take to boost it before you apply for a credit card. Not only will this give you access to a greater number of offers, but it’ll also improve the likelihood of an approval.