Applying for a credit card: how do I get approved?

If you’ve never had, or applied for, a credit card before, you probably have a lot of questions about the process. Canstar takes a look at common questions around the credit card application process.

Common questions about the credit card application process

  • Do I need a good credit rating to get approved for a credit card?
  • Which credit card should I apply for?
  • How do I apply for a credit card?
  • What do I need to apply for a credit card?

We’ll answer the above questions in more detail, below.

Do I need a good credit rating to get approved for a credit card?

A credit rating summarises your payment history and includes payments for credit cards, home loans, car finance and hire purchases. It might also include information about other bills, such as electricity, gas and phone accounts. Having a strong credit report, one that shows you’re reliable with your financial commitments, puts you in a good position to borrow more money down the line.

If you’re just starting your financial journey and don’t have a mortgage or credit card repayment history, you might be wondering how this will impact on your credit card application. The good news is that if you’ve never had a line of credit before, you won’t have any skeletons in your financial closet. So, unless you’re applying for a bank’s premium card, with all the bells and whistles and a credit limit of hundreds of thousand dollars, your credit score shouldn’t be a major problem.

Remember, as well, that all credit card providers in New Zealand require you to be at least 18 years of age to get a credit card.

I want to apply for a credit card but which card should I choose?

Don’t run before you can walk. Before you start the credit card application process, take some time to research your options. Importantly, work out what type of credit card will meet your needs.

Canstar researches, rates and compares the main types of credit cards: low fee, low rate, rewards and flight rewards. Each type of credit card has different pros and cons to weigh up and are suited to different types of spenders (and debt repayers).

If this is your first credit card application, then these categories might not really mean much to you. To help,  we’ve written a guide looking at matching your financial personality to a credit card type. Click on the link below and read our story before you apply for a credit card:

Discover your credit card personality with Canstar

It’s important to note that applying for a number of credit cards at once can actually harm your credit score. That’s why it’s so beneficial to research the credit card market, to find a suitable card type. Below, is a link to our guide on credit card types. Once you are familiar with the credit card types, you can use our credit card comparison tools to filter cards by specific criteria, such as low rate or low fee.

Compare credit cards with Canstar

How do I apply for a credit card and what will I need?

The way you apply for a credit card – including what information you will need to provide – will depend on the type of credit card you are applying for.

If you are making a credit card application through a bank of which you’re already a customer, then you probably won’t need to front up with too much information, because they’ll already have all your details, and records of your income, on file.

If you’re not already a customer of the card issuer, you’ll need to provide photo ID, such as a driver’s licence or passport, to prove your identity. You’ll also need to provide recent pay slips or bank statements. This will help them figure out how much they can reasonably – and legally – lend you, based on your regular earnings.

To summarise, if you’re applying for a card face-to-face and not over the internet, take the following with you:

  • Photo ID (driver’s licence or passport).
  • Proof of income (at least two recent pay slips).

What if I want to apply for a credit card online?

The ease factor of applying for a credit card online depends on which bank card you’re applying for. If it’s your usual bank, you should be able to log into your online banking account and apply from there, which can speed the application process.

If you’re making a credit card application for the first time – and with a new bank – the application process will take a bit more time and effort. You’ll need to enter all your personal information and have digital copies of your ID and proof of income ready to upload.

In some cases, the bank won’t be able to sufficiently verify your identity online and won’t be able to process your application. In this case, you’ll need to finish your application at a branch.

Regardless of whether you apply online or in person, if your application is successful, your credit card will be mailed to you, usually within a two-week period.

Compare credit cards with Canstar

Use your credit card wisely!

If everything goes according to plan and your credit card application is approved, you may be tempted to get out and start swiping and tapping. But it’s important to exercise caution when using a line of credit product, such as a credit card, especially if you’ve never had one before.

Spending money you don’t have is never a good idea, especially large amounts of money you don’t have. So you don’t get in over your head, it’s a good idea to ease into using your credit card.

If you’re applying for a credit card for the first time, don’t forget to use Canstar’s free online credit card comparison tool, to find the card that’s right for you.

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