Should You Apply for Credit Cards Online?

With all of the “data breaches” making the news lately, nearly everyone worries about sharing personal information of any kind anywhere… so, it’s only normal to wonder if you should even apply for credit cards online?   Is it safe?  Are you putting your information at risk?  Perhaps you’re better off responding to some of those offers that pile up in your mailbox this time of year?  Maybe you should pick up an application at the bank or in the store instead?

The truth is, you’re just as safe applying online for credit cards as you are anywhere else.  In fact, you might be a little safer online.  Those offers and applications that you fill out and mail contain your information, too.  The difference is those are handwritten… and those handwritten pieces of paper are handled by so many people once you drop them in the nearest mailbox.  From the post office to the creditor themselves, you really have no idea what happens to those applications… someone has to enter your info into the computer, someone has to review your application, someone has to file it, shred it, or do something with it once it’s been entered into the system… it seems to me that if you put your own information into the computer to start with, it might actually be a little safer than that.  But, that’s just my thinking.

Still, it never hurts to follow a few basic rules when applying online for a credit card:

Know your credit score before you even start looking for credit cards!  Remember, the more credit cards you apply for, the more “inquiries” pop up on your credit report, and those inquiries can lower your credit score.  So, check your credit score, and then only look for credit cards that typically approve those with your credit level.  There is no sense in applying for a card that requires “Excellent” credit if your credit score is only “Fair.”

Have all of your options available before you actually apply for a credit card. Find a safe, secure site, like, and then carefully review every credit card offer to determine if it’s a card that you will actually benefit from having… What’s the interest rate?  Is there an annual fee?  Are there any rewards that come with the card (cash back, points, airline miles, etc.) or are there any hidden charges that aren’t immediately evident?

Once you’ve made your decision about the cards that interest you or that you feel confident that you will be approved for, it’s time to fill out the application.  Make sure that you have your personal information readily available so that you don’t have to stop and go look something up.  You’ll need your social security number, annual income, home address, employer’s name and address, etc.  Don’t risk getting halfway through an application, then have to stop and look something up, only to find that the website has “timed out” and you have to start over at the beginning – get it done right the first time.

Finally, after you’ve filled out the application in its entirety, it’s time to submit your application – some lenders will give you an instant decision while others will respond by letting you know that you either don’t qualify or they need more information.  Don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately qualify.  The lender is required to send you a letter if you are rejected, or they may simply need information that is not readily available, or they may even have another option if you don’t qualify for the first one, like the Fingerhut Fresh Start program that is offered through the Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank .  Be patient and answer any questions once you get their response.

Remember, good credit is a marathon, not a sprint!