Not all consumers are eligible for the best credit card deals.
In fact, many credit card companies use very strict lending criteria when deciding who is eligible for their most attractive offers.
Lenders only have to offer their advertised interest rate to 51% of successful credit card applicants. Others who are deemed less creditworthy may have to pay more to borrow.
Here Which? explains the main factors that credit card companies take into account when conducting their checks – and how to improve your chances of landing the best deals.
Which? Comparison Table: Best Rate credit cards – compare the best deals on the market
How to boost your credit score
Every time you apply for a credit card, your credit report will be used to help lenders decide whether to accept your application and what interest rate to offer you.
Lenders will use one of three credit reference companies to obtain information about you – CallCredit, Equifax or Experian. This means that even if one lender declines your application, another may not.
There are many ways you can boost your credit score and improve your odds of being accepted for the best credit card deals, but it’s particularly important for you to be able to demonstrate a history of sensible borrowing in the past.
If you have never borrowed, your credit history will be very short, making it difficult for lenders to assess whether you are likely to repay what you borrow from them. Applicants with a short credit history are typically denied the best deals.
Find out more: Your credit report explained – our guide includes more tips for improving your credit score
Strict lending criteria
Some credit card companies will make certain elements of their lending criteria very clear before customers even apply.
The Capital One Aspire Elite credit card, for example, is marketed to customers with a ‘perfect credit history’. Applicants are informed they are more likely to be accepted if they are a homeowner, aged over 21, have previously held credit cards and earn more than £50,000 a year.
Many other lenders save their best credit card deals to those who already have current accounts with them. Make sure to check these terms and conditions before completing your application.
What deals are available to the best customers?
Credit cards that provide the best rewards schemes, offering cashback, airmiles or retail vouchers, are typically among the most difficult to be approved for.
For example, The Costco True Earnings American Express credit card offers cashback on virtually all restaurant dining and travel bookings, but requires applicants to have a minimum household income of £25,000.
The Which? credit card comparison tables let you search all available cards from all available providers to choose the best deals based on quality of service as well as cost and benefits.
Which? Comparison Table: Best credit cards for cashback deals – all available deals compared