What affects a credit card application?

What affects a credit card application?

author: Bryony Pearce

By Bryony Pearce

There are a number of different factors that work for – or against – you during credit card applications. In this article, we’ll delve into each.


If you’re looking to get your hands on a credit card, then you’re probably wondering whether you’re going to be accepted or not. It’s a good idea to consider what might affect your chances before starting to apply.

There are a handful of factors that all lenders will take into account when deciding whether or not to accept your credit card application. So, in this blog, we’ll go through each of them and explain what you can do to boost your chances. Let’s start…

Track record of lending

If you’ve borrowed money in the past, or taken out any form of credit (including things like a phone contract or store card) and struggled to keep up with your repayments, this could show on your credit report.

Your credit report is a record of all your financial agreements past and present. It shows lenders what you’ve applied for, what you’ve borrowed, from who, and what you have (or have not) paid back.

So, if your track record of lending is less than perfect, it could be a red flag for any potential lenders. This is because it suggests that you’re not a ‘safe bet’ when it comes to borrowing money and paying it back on time and in full.

TIP: In order to correct a rocky past, you could start by taking steps today! Make a real effort to pay all outstanding credit repayments on time and in full. Even if you’ve struggled in the past, each payment will count towards improving your credit score and securing better financial products in the future.

Your credit history can affect your credit card application.

Number of credit applications

Not everyone realises that every time they apply for credit, this could lead to what’s called a ‘hard search’. This shows up on your credit report and could affect your credit score. So, if you’re looking to secure a credit card, it’s a good idea to do your research before applying.

A cluster of unsuccessful applications can make you look desperate to potential lenders, who’ll be able to see that you’ve already tried to secure finance on multiple occasions.

TIP: Think before you apply and make sure you’ve done all you can to boost your credit score beforehand. It’s a good idea to do your homework, as there are lenders who specialise in lending to people with bad credit – so by applying wisely with these kinds of lenders, you’ll increase your chances of being accepted straightaway.

Ocean offers a QuickCheck service which lets you see how likely it is that you’ll be accepted for the Ocean Credit Card before you apply. Eligibility checkers like these won’t impact your credit score as they only perform a soft search – this will show up on your credit history but will only be visible to you.

Non-existent lending history

If you’ve never borrowed money or opened any lines of credit before, this doesn’t sit well with lenders – even if you’re the most financially savvy person out there. Sounds unfair, doesn’t it?

Lenders like to see proof that you’re a responsible borrower, and a non-existent lending history doesn’t give them any evidence of that. So, just to be safe, they might decide to decline your credit card application.

TIP: If you’ve got no credit history for a lender to look at, you could secure a line of credit and start paying it back straightaway. But you should only do this if you are confident you can make the repayments on time and in full each month. 

What is a soft search?

Income and employment status

Like mentioned previously, lenders like reliable borrowers. As a result, they’re much more comfortable lending money to people in full-time employment. This is because they’ll be receiving a steady income which means they’re more likely to pay back their debt on time and in full. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll get an automatic no if you’re, for example, a student, but you might find it harder to get approved.  

When you apply for credit, lenders will check how much is going out of your account, as well as in. So even if you have a good steady income but there’s not a lot left after you’ve paid your regular bills, this could concern a lender about whether you can keep up with the repayments. You should only apply for a credit card if you’re confident you can comfortably keep up with the repayments and not go over your limit.

TIP: You could minimise your monthly outgoings where possible as this can increase your disposable income. So even if your income isn’t high or even regular, you’ll show that you do have money left over to pay the balance on the credit card you’re hoping to get.

Financial associations

By this point, you’re probably wondering if your credit report also shows your shoe size! Don’t worry, it doesn’t – but yes, it’s very comprehensive and shows all your financial commitments.

Your credit report also includes a section on financial associations – so anyone you have a financial link with. This could be because of a joint loan, bank account, mortgage or anything else along the same lines.

A financial association can affect the lender’s decision to approve you for credit even if your credit score is great. Why? Because being associated to someone who has a poor history of lending could reduce your chances of being accepted for credit.

TIP: If you’re financially linked to someone who you think could be lowering your chances of getting a credit card, you could check your financial associations on your credit report and make sure they’re correct. For the associations that aren’t, or the association has ended, you could issue a notice of disassociation to get these removed from your credit file. This could improve your chances of being accepted for credit in the future.

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Bryony Pearce

By Bryony Pearce

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What affects a credit card application? What affects a credit card application?